Picking honor books is one of the mysterious parts of the whole book committee experience. On the Caldecott committee, the manual is strangely quiet on the question of honor books.
After the winner is (finally, sometimes) chosen, ”The committee then addresses the question of whether to name honor books. The committee may name as many or as few as it chooses, or none, keeping in mind that the books should be truly distinguished, not merely general contenders. Honor books may only be chosen from among those that appeared on the final medal-winning ballot. When honor books are announced to the public, they are announced in alphabetical order, by author, so as to accord equal honor to all books.”
So, there you are in your little committee room, bathing in the happiness that you and your new best friends have chosen THE winner. You take a little break, pour a cup of tea and your chair takes a breath. “Now we will decide on honor books.”
There are a few possibilities for what might have led up to choosing the winner. The winner might have been almost unanimous, with one ballot doing the trick. OR each member might have voted for a different first place book. (I bet that’s a nightmare!) The winner and one other book could have been neck and neck, with the rest of the pack close behind or far behind. If that happens, all the first place votes probably went to the two main contenders and there are just scraps of votes left for any other title. See how sticky and tough it could get?
It can be daunting to gear up for another round of discussions when things are not crystal clear. Sometime it is perfectly clear.
And here is what we had on the Mock Caldecott here:
|Balloons Over Broadway||46||56||68||488|
|I Want My Hat Back||47||66||64||514|
With our vote, we looked at the first place votes. Me…Jane was the clear winner, even though it did not have the majority of first place votes. 89 is not shabby. Grandpa Green had 68 first place votes and 571 votes overall. Clearly people thought it was distinguished. When you look just at the first place votes, the last three books were almost tied. So, we had to decide between having just the one honor book or four. That was the only choice the vote gave us. The total votes weren’t quite as tied, but we kept coming back to the fact that an equal number of voters thought these three books were distinguished enough to be the winner. That’s it. So, we had a nice large slate of honor books.
I am a fan of honor books myself. I even think there is a perfect number of honor books. I like 3-4 honor books and feel a little ripped of with a small list. (I have served on committees with sparse honor lists and have had to accept it.) But, that’s just me. I just like to spread the wealth around a bit.
How about you?