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>Would you care?

>The legal wrangling over Project Runway has prompted the jilted network Bravo to start another fashion show:

Last week Bravo completed a four-city casting tour for a new series tentatively titled “The Fashion Show,” whose winner will be chosen by viewers rather than a panel of fashion experts, as it is on “Project Runway.”

Color me not excited. While it’s true that American Idol similarly involves its audience in choosing a winner, I don’t think anyone would tune in were it not for the hijinks of Randy, Paula and Simon, whose cutups and comments prompt as much of the voting as do the contestants themselves.

This is why no one gets as excited about children’s choice book awards as they do about those chosen by “experts.” There’s no arguing with popularity–something is or it isn’t. But when a committee of alleged authorities does its bestowing, a conversation is started, even if the opening salvo is What Were They Thinking?

Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.



  1. Teacherninja says:

    >That’s why Ive been arguing against awards all week on my blog. I’m clearly playing Devil’s Advocate, because it’s not like these awards are going away but it’s interesting that there haven’t been that many compelling argument FOR the awards so far..

  2. >I agree. Anyone can stack the deck for the People’s Choice: person with biggest rolodex or family group gets everyone phoning in multiple times.

    My vote is for experts explaining their choices, even when I don’t agree with them.

  3. >I like Jane’s idea. I’m always interested in the reasons *why* something is award-worthy, i.e. worthy of larger critical acclaim. This especially would come in handy when folks (actually, when I say “folks” I mean “me”) read said award-winning book and apparently don’t see what the judges saw. Then at least I could say, “Okay, I can see why the judges chose it.” Doesn’t mean I have to like it! But it gives me more to go on.

  4. Roger Sutton says:

    >Oh, I’m not arguing against awards at all. I think they are a great way to encourage people to pay attention to and think about books. They focus conversation. They make books news, gossip, fodder.

    Award judges DO for the most part tell us why they chose the way they did–every Newbery, NBA, BGHB award is prefaced by a spokesperson for the jury saying just why they chose the book they did. But I’ve just been struck by one big fat exception to my “people like awards from experts” argument. The Oscars–the most talked about award in this country and it has no judges, just 6,000 voters who make their decisions independently, without discussion. Do we care because we consider those 6,000 more expert than ourselves?

  5. >I think part of the appeal of the Oscars is that they, like life, have a mix of apparent merit and dumb chance. Well, I guess that’s true of all awards. Seems more opaque when it comes to the Oscars, though, and life is opaque. So the Oscars are like life, but better looking.

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