RAWing with Kings and Printzes, part two

Kings and Printzes, round two

In a comment to my post of “two heart” books, it was noted that “that’s why there are various awards and selected lists; to account for the various needs of different readers. Also, there is a different committee each year, and those committee members read hundreds of books. Yet each committee may come to a completely different decision each year. Even with criteria, there is some amount of subjectivity to it.”

logoIn my post I hadn’t meant to disrespect the Printz Award only to point out that it is just one list and one way of defining what is “best.” If memory serves, there is / was a rule that any book on the Printz list had to be named to BBYA as one year one committee choose a title to on the short list of best books of the year, while another committee didn’t think it merited inclusion at all.

So what does it mean to be a best or the best book?

It is how you define best.

51iOtZD9EHL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_This is something that baseball writer Bill James writes about a great deal as the elephant in the room of all player rankings. You need to define terms. What is the biggest elephant in the room? Depends what you mean by biggest: tallest, widest, heaviest, etc.

Can a book be the “best” for teens if it has limited appeal to teens?

I always thought the best solution would be a small team from BBYA (or now the other teams) to meet with a small team from Quick Picks, compare the two lists, and then vote from books on each list, which ones were the best. Or, better yet, do it by the number of votes each book received. It is an objective way to look at a subjective question.

0440219604I’ve played this card before way back in the day trying to use Bill James like ideas to look at the best book of 1994 (which was Jacqueline Woodson’s I Hadn’t Meant to Tell You This, which was the wrong answer because I marked it made Quick Picks, yet it did not – how, I’ll never know). The article from Voice of Youth Advocates (December 1995) looked at a series of honors which earned the book points, and also gave points for each positive review. I recall somebody else resurrected this idea for a short time.


rats2The best way, of course, to determine the best book of any year is to own a time machine. That way, we could see which books had stood the test of time. That was something else I tried, albeit not with a time machine looking back at books that SHOULD / WOULD have won the Printz Award if had existed before 2000. I summarized those finding in “Retro Mock Printz” Voice of Youth Advocates (December 2002), but that project also had an agenda: to make sure that Rats Saw God got promoted.


150131_mn-book-award-logoSo, I’ve been thinking about this for a LONG time trying to build a better mousetrap. It’s been years a since I’ve been on any of these committee, but I’m about to be a judge for the Minnesota Book Awards, so maybe being one of the “deciders” will give me a fresh perspective.

In conclusion of all the end of the year lists and awards there is one you should use among others for collection development and it is totally objective. A list of all the books stolen the year before.

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