It was a dark and stormy day of meetings. Okay, that's a lie, it was clear and sunny. But it was a day of meetings. It was also the best Mock Awards I've been to since I started at BCCLS. We started off in a large group, about 20 people per session, did quick booktalks, and then split into smaller groups of about ten. Each group of ten went through the list of favorites and ranked their favorites on a scorecard. Readers gave points to a book based on theme, plot, setting, art, and other awards criteria. Here's how it shook out:
Mock Caldecott winner: The House in the Night, written by Susan Marie Swanson and illustrated by Beth Krommes (which made me happy, as this was my personal favorite of all the Mock Caldecott nominees)
Mock Caldecott honors: Tadpole Rex by Kurt Cyrus and Don't Worry Bear by Greg Foley
Mock Newbery winner: Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
Mock Newbery honors: Seer of Shadows by Avi, Lincoln Shot: A president's life remembered by Barry Denenberg, and The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Mock Printz winner: Nation by Terry Pratchett
Mock Printz honors: The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume II: The Kingdom on the Waves by M.T. Anderson, Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link, and The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
I thought the most interesting moment of the day came during the Mock Printz. The way we set it up, each person had the chance to vote for his or her top three after the small-group discussion. A first-place vote was worth three points, a second-place two points, and a third-place one point. At each small group table, the three books that received the highest number of vote points was brought back to a discussion with the entire group. During the final large-group discussion before voting, participants had the opportunity to fight for the books they deemed the most worthy. At the Caldecott and Newbery, when the small groups reconvened in a large group, they found that each group had picked the same titles for two of their three choices. At the Printz, the table I was at chose The Knife of Never Letting Go, Pretty Monsters, and Madapple. Then we sat back, looked at what the other table chose, and were very surprised! The other table chose Frankie, Nation, The Adoration of Jenna Fox, and Octavian II.
THAT was a spirited discussion, let me tell you. But it was great! I think it really goes to show that 20 different people have 20 very different ideas as to what constitutes literary excellence, and that 2008 was an embarrassment of YA literary riches. I think any of the favorite seven could be a contender, though I do have my favorites (Madapple! Pretty Monsters!), and everyone who attended will be excited to see which books take the big prizes in two weeks.