This afternoon, Linda Sue Park spoke about children’s book awards and the process of picking winners. The audience was captivated.
In addition to being an award-winning author herself (she’s won more than 100 awards and counting), she has served on various award committees, including SCBWI grants, Golden Kite, Kirkus Prize, and the National Book Award.
Park delivered her talk with no visuals or props. Her vibrant personality and wonderful storytelling was the only thing needed to capture her audience’s attention. She explained the very complex process of reading and culling several hundred books, and balancing committees (race, sex, geography). She broke down some of the criteria of various awards.
Park is a true champion of good books. She fought hard for books she believed should win. But sometimes her choices did not. She spoke about some of Monday morning quarterbacking that always follows the announcement of an award. Why didn’t this book win? Or why didn’t that book win? “Kibitzing is a good thing, though,” she said, “but no one out out there goes over these books like the awards committees do.”