Award committees, both real and mock, can give you extreme highs and lows. Just being on a real committee can be a high, and I remember walking on air for a few days after I learned that I’d been elected to the Caldecott committee. But there are lows as well, like when the stack of books to be read grows into a mountain of unopened packages and life isn’t giving you enough time to sit and read.
Later, there are more highs and lows. For me, the biggest highs came while making The Calls and when our awards were announced at the press conference.
But there’s nothing quite like the low when a favorite book is eliminated. You need a little time to mourn and to get over the temptation to convict your fellow committee members of bookicide.
Robin and I were talking about this recently and we think committee chairs must be trained to handle this, the way social workers are trained to help people through times of grief. Betsy Hearne, my Caldecott chair, was an expert. When the group had voted to remove a book from the table (at the beginning of deliberations) or the ballot (at the end), she held it up and said earnestly and regretfully, “This is a good book. But now we need to say good-bye to it.” Maybe those weren’t her exact words, but that was the effect. I think she might have stroked the spine, too, the way you stroke a beloved cat.
Grief is part of the award process. And — of course — the real committee might still give an award to your favorite book. There’s a huge difference between this vast group of blog commenters and lurkers and a scant fifteen people who have read and considered every book published that year AND spent hours face-to-face in a small room discussing and discussing and eating snacks and discussing some more. We tend to think that all the mock Caldecotts we’ve been hearing about give us some hint at the Committee’s decision, but there are no guarantees.
So now I’d like to open this therapy session to the whole group. Are you mourning? Would you like to share?