How the Newbery Medal Leads Me to Hubris and Existential Crisis*

A Quandary in Four Parts

Next week the 2014 winners of the Newbery and other ALA Youth Media Awards will be announced.  I’m becoming a bit of a geek about these awards.  I quietly follow the whole Mock Newbery / Mock Caldecott / Mock Whatever scene, and I sometimes like to make my own predictions.  I guess it’s a hobby.  I like it much more than following football or a lot of the other things that more people follow.

Lately I am becoming increasingly aware of my liminal status in the intersecting worlds of education, libraries, technology, and children’s literature.  I am kind of playing Twister** at the four corners,  and I am not completely committed to or officially endorsed by any one of these realms.  Nevertheless, I do what I hope and believe is good work here, and I enjoy it.  The school district keeps giving me a paycheck and more work to do, so that’s at least one major indication that I am in the right place for now.  But  I recognize that at some point I probably need to make some kind of decisive step and throw in with one of the clans, or risk becoming an exile.

Should I go to graduate school to become a “real” librarian, then engage in a calculated series of questionable political maneuvers to place myself within the circles of power in the library world, all to ultimately weasel my way onto the Newbery Committee and help pick the winner one year?


Should I work my butt off writing, with the aim to one day write a book that all those sucker librarians on the Newbery committee will have no choice but to read, talk about, and maybe even slap with a shiny sticker?***  (I’d be perfectly okay with just the silvery one the first time, thanks.)

*But it’s no big deal.  All kinds of things have been known to lead me into existential crises.  Mowing the lawn led me to them on a consistent basis, more consistent than my actual mowing of the lawn.  That’s why it is good I moved to a townhouse.

**I’ve never actually played Twister, and I hate the very idea of playing that game.

***That of course wouldn’t be the primary aim. The primary aim would be writing books that young people will love and that they will beg their parents, teachers, and librarians to purchase in huge quantities.

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