Sam Bloom, Tween Librarian, Downtown Main Library
On Monday, January 27, children’s and young adult literature lovers tuned in to the American Library Association’s Youth Media Awards, opens a new window in Philadelphia, for the announcements of the Newbery, opens a new window, Caldecott, opens a new window, Coretta Scott King, opens a new window (CSK), Printz, opens a new window, and other awards.
But in the months and weeks leading up to the announcements, Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamiton County librarians held their own Mock Award events, discussing the relative merits of books in a style meant to emulate the real committees’ deliberations. For the 2019 publishing year, our Library offered four Mock Awards: Caldecott, CSK, Newbery, and Printz. In 2020, we were excited to add a Mock Stonewall Book Award, opens a new window to the mix.
In a Mock Award discussion, the point is not to predict the books that are going to win said award; rather, participants can hone their critical thinking skills around books and hear opinions and viewpoints that they might not otherwise. This helps us as librarians in several ways: we get new books to recommend to young people; we fine-tune our critical eye to help us handpick the very best books to use in programs and displays; and it often pushes us to read outside our respective comfort zones. (And let’s be honest, it’s just really fun to get together with friends and talk about good books!)
“Mock Printz is stressful but honestly a blast,” said Sarah Rust, Teen Librarian at the Mt. Healthy branch who is, along with Monfort Heights Teen Librarian Lauren Smallwood, a Mock Printz co-founder. “I don’t always get to spend as much time talking about books as people might think a librarian would, and [the Mock Printz] is a great way to introduce our staff and participants to writers and books that might not be as buzzed about.”
The newest of our Mock Award events, our second annual Mock CSK took place on December 4. A group of around 25 librarians and local educators chose New Kid, opens a new window (Jerry Craft) as the Author Award Winner. We selected The Bell Rang , opens a new window(James E. Ransome) and Genesis Begins Again, opens a new window (Alicia D. Williams) as our Author Honors.
For the Illustrator Award, we chose The Undefeated, opens a new window (Kadir Nelson) as our winner; The Bell Rang, opens a new window, Going Down Home with Daddy, opens a new window (Daniel Minter); and What Is Given from the Heart , opens a new window(April Harrison) were our Illustrator Honors. Finally, we selected When Aidan Became a Brother, opens a new window (Kaylani Juanita) as our John Steptoe/New Talent Illustrator Award.
For year four of our Mock Printz on January 14, around 40 librarians and local editors chose Shout, opens a new window (Laurie Halse Anderson) as the winner. Brave Face, opens a new window (Shaun David Hutchinson), Lovely War, opens a new window (Julie Berry), and Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All , opens a new window(Laura Ruby) were the Mock Printz Honors.
We held our Mock Newbery and Caldecott on the same day, January 16. In the morning, we focused on the Mock Newbery (our ninth such event). Our winner was Other Words for Home, opens a new window (Jasmine Warga). (By the way, Warga is from Cincinnati and a large chunk of the book takes place in Clifton! You can read our interview with her on the blog here, opens a new window.) Our Honor books were The Lost Girl, opens a new window (Anne Ursu), New Kid, opens a new window (Jerry Craft), and We’re Not From Here, opens a new window (Geoff Rodkey).
That afternoon, we turned our attention to the Mock Caldecott. The winner of our seventh Mock Caldecott was You Are Home, opens a new window (Evan Turk); the Honor books were Fry Bread, opens a new window (Juana Martinez-Neal), My Papi Has a Motorcycle, opens a new window (Zeke Peña), and The Undefeated, opens a new window (Kwame Alexander).
As much fun as the Mock Awards are, there’s still nothing like the real thing. With that in mind, here’s a shout out to the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County staff members who served on some of the real award committees this year: Renee Roberson Tecco (Youth Services), a member of the Asian/Pacific American Library Associations’s Young Adult Literature Award selection committee; Dawn McMillan (Oakley), chair of the Margaret Edwards Award, opens a new window selection committee; and Alia Jones (Youth Services), a member of the Caldecott Award Selection Committee.
Our Mock Award teams have already started reading 2020 titles in readiness for next year’s events. As Lauren Smallwood said, “The Mock Printz is like a book club I prepare for all year.” Thanks to everyone who takes part in these (now five) year-long book clubs!