Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Booker Prize

The announcement of the Booker Prize makes me think about the relative circumspection with which we promote children's book awards in the U.S. The fact that the chair announced that he had cast the deciding vote for the winner is in such contrast to our well-bred Newbery and Caldecott committees, which pledge confidentiality unto death. What you get instead, though, is gossip: x won because the committee was torn between y and z (an outcome that is in fact mathematically very difficult, given the way the balloting works); a Caldecott garnered on the strength of clever endpapers; a "Butterfield 8" Newbery, in which the winner is being recompensed for not having won for an earlier, better book (the term comes from Elizabeth Taylor's first Oscar). So which is better publicity: a relatively forthright explanation of how the voting went, or the inevitable whispers which will surround a confidential debate?

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