So You Want to Win the Newbery? (Part I)
The only way to win the Newbery Medal, of course, is to write the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children and then sleep with The Story of Mankind under your pillow until the winner is announced (some people do weird things to bring good luck).
But, you know, what else?
Today and tomorrow we’ll take a look at two factors that have no bearing on which book will win, but are fun to pick apart in hindsight – publication month and starred reviews. Shout out to my co-worker Niki (@daydreamreader) for the inspiration.
First, a couple notes. Today I decided to include data from just the past 30 years of winners (1983-2013). The further you go back, the harder it is to get details on publication date. For this reason I had to go with an even more narrow window for the starred review comparison tomorrow.
When thinking about the most common publication month for Newbery winners, I had a prediction – that it would be in the fall. I wasn’t sure, but it seemed children’s publishing had a touch of the Oscars syndrome – where studios wait until fall to release their strongest award hopefuls. If true, this is something of a self-fulfilling prophecy. If publishers think fall is the best time to release a Newbery contender, more strong candidates are published in that season, resulting in more fall release winners.
Enough with the speculation – what does the data show?
Shocker! Out of nowhere, April is the month when the most Newbery winners were released (in the last 30 years). September did have a strong showing so I don’t feel totally off-base with my fall month prediction. And how about June and December, eh? Not one medal to their names. December makes sense – it’s so late in the game – but June was a surprise.
Did you have a prediction? How’d it fare?
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About Travis Jonker
Travis Jonker is an elementary school librarian in Michigan. He writes reviews (and the occasional article or two) for School Library Journal and is a member of the 2014 Caldecott committee. You can email Travis at email@example.com, or follow him on Twitter: @100scopenotes.
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