Wednesday, January 12, 2011

To review or not to review?

So here are my two Newbery Dilemmas:

1. Should I review any Newbery-eligible books on either my blog or in School Library Journal?
We're absolutely allowed to express our own personal opinions about books, so long as we don't disclose any Newbery Committee business. However, I feel uneasy about folks reading a positive or negative review that I have written and thinking something along the lines of "Since Eva's a committee member, I bet she will (or won't) recommend/promote this book to the committee."

To avoid any possible guessing or misinterpretations, for 2011 I will try to stick to reviews of non-eligible books (non-U.S. authors; non-2011 titles; etc) and will also focus more on library services to children and teens. Some of my fellow committee members seem to feel the same, while others don't see a problem - and it's definitely a personal choice. It'll feel strange not writing about all the books I'm reading, that's for sure.

2. How will I satisfy my YA jones?? Not to mention my penchant for the occasional grown-up book...? And then there are all those 2010 books I never got to! Judging from the experiences of previous committee members, the last 6 months of the year in particular will be all Newbery, all the way, and that's fine with me (it was great not having to load up on middle-grade ARCs, knowing they'd all be coming my way). But maybe during these early months I can squeeze in some of those juicy ARCs I picked up at ALA - Judy Blundell's Strings Attached, Rachel Ward's The Chaos, Alison Goodman's Eona, Catherine Fisher's The Dark City, and many more. There will undoubtedly be guilt and plenty of it, however.

Did any of you ex-Newbery or other award committee members suffer from these dilemmas? If so, how did you solve them?


  1. Hi Eva,

    I don't know if you recall, but ALSC was considering banning blogging by Committee members the year I went on Newbery (2007). I was very upset because the rules said we were allowed to voice our own opinions and it shouldn't have mattered if it was digitally. Roger Sutton was on Caldecott and said he'd quit the Committee if they did that to us. They backed off, thank goodness, but I then was told not to blog about eligible books which is why I started my "Thoughts on Newbery" series discussing issues, but using older books as examples. Today, given how many people read blogs, I'd say you absolutely DO NOT want to post your thoughts here or on goodreads about eligible books and try to avoid them for professional reviews. (In addition to Roger, Martha Parravono of HB and Luan Toth of SLJ were on my committee. Many of the others on both were prolific reviewers. I think they all avoided eligible books that year as much as possible.)

  2. Yes, Goodreads came up, too. I think I'll continue to post what I've read on Goodreads, but I won't rate or review eligible titles. I like your Thoughts on Newbery as a lovely way to keep the discussion going while avoiding any possible problems.

  3. When I was on the Stonewall committee, we were not allowed to publish reviews of eligible books. It was a little awkward, since I had a starred review of an eligible book come out in SLJ just as I started on the committee (timing is everything!).

    So, are you saying we *shouldn't* stalk your GoodReads feed for hints on next year's winner? :)