Since it's getting close to awards time, I recently decided to check my favorite Mock Newbery/Caldecott/etc groups for their reading lists. What are Mock Newbery/Caldecott/etc groups? They are groups of readers that meet at a library, school, or elsewhere (bookstore, online, etc) to read and discuss potential picks for the major children's and young adult awards that will be announced on February 2, 2015. As the Newbery and Caldecott are the oldest and most well-known awards, the mock groups tend to focus on titles for those two groups.
So, who are these groups? What are they reading? Let's take a look:
School Library Journal is one of the premier review journals for youth services librarians. Their group is actually a blog (Heavy Medal) that accepts comments from anyone invested enough in the process to discuss the books. Bloggers have served on Newbery and other book committees in the past, so discussions are thorough and thoughtful.
Goodreads's Mock Newbery group is another venue for online discussion. Members must have a Goodreads account to participate.
I'm not sure how long Anderson's Bookshop's has had mock groups, but it's been going strong for several years (at least). Their Mock Newbery list includes several strong titles!
St. Joseph County library has two Mock Newbery groups (one for children and one for adults). Their list is quite good.
The Eva Perry branch of the Wake County Public Library system has had a Mock Newbery group for many years.Their list includes some titles that I haven't heard of, so will definitely investigate further!
The Rhode Island Office of Library and Information Services posts revisions of their list, so it's interesting to see what's been dropped as the year progresses.
Allen County Public Library discusses their picks on their Pinterest board. Look for "2014 pin" for what they've read in 2014 (for the 2015 Newbery).
Mock Caldecott groups also abound:
The Horn Book Magazine is one of the most prestigious review journals of young people's literature. Their blog, Calling Caldecott, is open for all to comment (similar to Heavy Medal).
Allen County also has a dedicated Pinterest board for their Caldecott picks.
Goodreads's Mock Caldecott is another very active group.
Although the Printz Award (for YA literature) doesn't attract as many mock groups (probably for two reasons: the award is not as well known, and the award is lacking in specific criteria, unlike the Newbery and Caldecott, which means that it's harder to evaluate books that the committee might be considering), there are a few:
School Library Journal's Someday My Printz Will Come blog is an entertaining and educational blog written by former Printz committee members.
Eva Perry also runs a Mock Printz club.
Like Goodreads's other Mock groups, the Mock Printz group discusses specific titles and occasionally ruminates on issues surrounding the award.
You'll see that several titles show up in just about every list. I don't think anyone who follows children's literature closely will be surprised that Brown Girl Dreaming is one of the most named titles for the mock Newbery lists. The Fourteenth Goldfish and Rain Reign also appear on most lists.
As for Caldecott? Judging from discussions on blogs and listservs, seems like The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus is a top pick (mine too; this book is quite special), along with The Farmer and the Clown. The Farmer and the Clown has been quite a surprise for me; I didn't expect that a wordless book (not extremely popular with our patrons) about a baby clown (!) would check out as much as it has since we've received it, but it has. Even one of my colleagues, who's normally not enthusiastic about wordless books, was charmed. (I have managed to resist its charms, apparently, but will need to take another look. It is a gorgeous book.)
And the Printz? They never pick my favorites, and there's no clear cut criteria, so I am hopeless with this award.
Who will be the big winners? Watch the big broadcast online on February 2!
Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library
To learn more about Fauquier County Public Library's collection, events, and programs, visit us on Facebook, Twitter (Kiddosphere's feed is here), or on our website.