Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The wisdom of hindsight.

One thing that's difficult for account for in a Mock Newbery - and that is also incredibly frustrating to me as a reviewer on deadline for SLJ - is the way time has a sneaky way of tempering one's critical stance. I'm always glad when I can read books early in the year and then revisit them later on, because my opinion has often changed in surprising ways. Cases in point:

1. Love-love-loved Wonder when I read it, but as the emotional high has faded, the book's flaws have emerged more insistently.

2. Liked Mr. and Mrs. Bunny - Detectives Extraordinaire! just fine on initial reading, but in the last few months it has really grown on me. I keep looking back and thinking, man, that Polly Horvath is really something. (A view shared, I might add, by Jack Gantos: when he came to visit our libraries, that was the only 2012 book he specifically mentioned liking.)

And there are others that have shifted in my esteem - some falling off my Newbery radar entirely, and some creeping steadily towards my personal shortlist.

Maybe this is more of a problem for me than most people. I'll be the first to admit that I am a passionate and capricious reader - tendencies that I try to temper with good, solid, critical skills, but that still get the better of me sometimes.

If I end up on the Real Live Newbery Committee, I'll be interested to see how this plays out. I've even remarked to Sam that I almost wish we gave the award out in June instead of January, so that the committee could have time to let the initial buzz and fervor around certain titles fade away. But maybe they're really good at sequestering themselves from all of that (Moon Over Manifest, anyone?), and I imagine that the discussion, in itself, works to temper overly feverish devotion. 

Here's hoping!


  1. It's definitely not just you! (And I have the same trouble with my SLJ reviews, too.)

    I really liked Wonder, but it's been months and months and probably a hundred books since then, and I now have trouble bringing to mind exactly what it was that I loved so much. I think it's still good, but I'd need a careful reread to see if I could still defend it against others of this year.

    My current fave is Liar & Spy, but it's been weeks, not months, since I read that one, so it will be interesting to see what I think of it after a bit of a cooling period.

  2. Yes, Mr & Mrs Bunny is awesome. It's one of our books for the Mock Newbery here, but I have a feeling (from some comments on our wiki) that it is going to crash and burn come discussion time. Comedy is so hard to build consensus around; Lord knows how last year's committee came to an agreement on Norvelt!