November 20, 2008

Questioning Awards

Before the comment challenge ends, I thought I'd throw out a controversial idea--giving up on awards.

Anita Silvey had a great shot across the bow early last month with her "Has the Newbery Lost Its Way?" article in the School Library Journal.

I agree to an extent, but then I started thinking about the books she calls "good" picks. Bud, Not Buddy; A Single Shard; The Tale of Desperdeaux; Out of the Dust; Number the Stars; Holes; Maniac McGee; The Giver.

Excellent and popular books all. But wouldn't they be just as popular without that shiny sticker? She bemoans the jilting of Charlotte's Web in 1952. That thing is always selling.

So who needs the Newbery, anyway? Who needs any award anyway?

Yes, there are popular, good books with awards. Yes there are unpopular, good books with awards. There are also popular crappy books with awards...

Sorry. And remember those nutty "Children's Choice Awards" in the spring? Who put those out? They were either no duh picks like Diary of a Wimpy Kid or they were complete head-scratchers.

I'm not seeing the point of these or any awards, frankly. Think about those goofy Oscars. Alfred Hitchcock never won one. He's considered by many to be one of the best and his film are continually popular. It's not sad that he never got one--it was never needed.

I guess that's the only good thing about these awards. It's great for arguments. Someone should do a book like Alternate Oscars for the Newberys. Show the winners and other worthy books from each year with alternate picks when needed. It'd be fun.

Many will say there is a bump in sales due to these awards. That may be true on occasion, but Silvey's article points out the lackluster sales for many winners with little popular appeal.

No, I say we don't need them at all. Lord of the Rings and Titaninc would be doing just as well, thank you very much, and Cimarron would still only be rented out by film students.

How to tell the good books from the bad ones? That's what we have critics and bloggers and reviewers like Anita Silvey for! Oh, and don't forget the kids. They have something to say about this stuff as well...