Fuse #8

Friday, January 26, 2007

Briefly Noted

A couple points of interest, this fine and frisky Friday morn...

Ever wonder what it takes to make a Newbery Honor book? Darcy Pattison just turned me onto this posting circa 12/6/06 where author Kirby Larson discussed the various revisions it took to make Hattie Big Sky the book it is today.

And this came out a little while ago, but is only now available online. The New York Public Library's 2006 100 Books for Reading and Sharing (a.k.a. their best books list) is up and running. There may be a title or two on there that you've not seen before. Go give it a glance.

Kelly from Big A little a posted this yesterday and it's a hoot. Insofar as we consider A Christmas Carol children's fare (not SOLELY children's fare, but kid-friendly just the same) we may, by extension, claim Dickens as our own. Two points of interest then. The first is an online game where in the player is meant to survive Dickens' London. If you've little interest in that arena, you may prefer the fun encapsulation of his life as presented by pointy-nosed legless people.

And a great great debate is simmering on Roger Sutton's blog regarding the most recent Newbery books and a certain something they all had in common. I'll excuse myself from commenting, but y'all should offer your own two cents. Some good ideas are being weighed.


At 11:59 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Roger's debate is an interesting one, thanks for pointing that out. I'm still trying to prod you (Betsy) into starting a mini-discussion about whether there's an optimal number of honor awards for any given award. To me, three honor books seems much, even in a year when there are several strong contenders. My writing partners see no harm in "spreading the wealth."

At 1:35 PM , Blogger Kelly said...

I loved the pointynosed people. They made me laugh :) Glad you enjoyed it, Fuse.

At 2:15 PM , Blogger fusenumber8 said...

I think I'm in your writing partners' camp. Though if I had my way there'd be 10 Honor books at a minimum every year. As it stands, I like the sliding scale. The committees do a good job of determining what books deserved serious consideration. I was hoping for more Caldecott Honors this year, but you go with what you've got.

At 10:28 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

So set me straight: why doesn't it devalue the honor, to have several books with silver stickers on them every year? And I wonder if it implies to the outside observer (whether true or not) a lack of consensus on the part of the committees. Has there been "honor inflation" over the years -- more honor books lately than in the past? And if so, does that mean that the quality of books has gone up, so much so that there are three or more books tied for second place, where there weren't before? I agree that honors are great, because they get wonderful books read, and they keep wonderful books in print. But do we risk losing that if we hand out too many?
(This whole conversation, to me, is not a question of whether the books deserved the honor or not, just whether we should consciously [even if it pains us] limit the number of honors given to retain their market value.)

At 11:46 AM , Blogger Elaine Magliaro said...

Have there actually been more Newbery Honor Books in recent years than in the past? In 1929, 1931, 1932, 1934, and 1937--six books were awarded honor status. In 1922, 1939, 1947, 1948, 1950, 1952, 1953, 1957, 1972, 1983, 2003--five books. And there have been a number of years when four books received a Newbery Honor--including 1936, 1940, 1941, 1942, and 1949.

I don't think there has been "honor inflation" over the years. If a book is an outstanding and distinguished work of literature, it deserves to be honored--no matter how many other books receive a silver sticker that year.

At 12:49 PM , Blogger fusenumber8 said...

Ah. Thank you, Elaine. I was going to look that up myself but you've done my homework for me, I see.

Basically it comes down to the fact that any of the Honor books could have been the Newbery winner, but that the committee came to consensus over a single title. So in a way, the Award goes to the only book that everyone could agree was exemplary. The Honor books came close, so they get the Good Sport Award of an Honor.

If the Newberys worked like the Oscars or Cybils and you had five strong books in each category and THEN a winner, that would be one thing. The remaining four books would have the whole, "It's an honor just to be nominated" feel to them. But since the Newbery doesn't do it that way (thank GOD) this is another way to honor the remaining books.

At 3:44 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's an interesting analogy to the Oscars. I hadn't thought about it in terms of there being no broadcasted "nominees" for the Newbery. So honor books are a way to list the books that are really all first-place books in some sense.

Looking at the list of honors since 1922, it looks like maybe there was actually DEflation starting in 1960. Pre-1960 there are 2 years with 8 honors, 4 years with 6 honors, 9 years with 5 honors, and 11 years with 4 honors. Post-1960 there are 0 years with 8 or 6 honors, 3 years with 5 honors, and 8 years with 4 honors.

Put another way, in the first 38 years of Newbery history there were 26 years that had 4 or more honor books, and in the last 48 years there were only 10 years that had 4 or more honor books.

Fascinating stuff!

At 5:09 PM , Blogger Elaine Magliaro said...

I think one should also take into consideration the number of children's books that were published each year--from 1921 to 2006. I believe one can safely assume that more are being published today than 60, 70, or 80 years ago.

At 10:53 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, that must be true, and it would mean the "deflation" is even higher.


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