1. If you’re interested in children’s literature and not already following New York Public Librarian Elizabeth Bird’s Top 100 Children’s Novels countdown, I highly recommend you head on over there and check it out. She recently conducted a poll with her readers of their top 10 middle grade books of all time (I submitted mine–prioritizing ten was no easy feat and I immediately changed my mind after I clicked send. But oh well.) This week she’s begun revealing the results, #100-91 were revealed on Monday, and then she dropped to doing five a day bringing us down to #76 today. So far the list looks to be shaping up to be a great overview of chapter books spanning titles published as far back as the 1930s and as current as one of this year’s Newbery Honor winners, a mix of both silly and serious stories, fantastical and realistic. But this isn’t your average “here’s the title and author and maybe a link to where you can buy it, now go on your merry way” countdown list. Oh no. What makes this countdown really excellent (if you’re interested in this sort of thing) is all the historical tidbits and odd trivia Elizabeth Bird has offered up about each title, along with a description and personal reflections from those who recommend the book. If you would get a kick out of learning that The Graveyard Book has inspired a perfume collection, finding out the connection between Doctor Who and The Children of Green Knowe, or seeing the range of cover art for each title, then this countdown is the place for you.
2. Do you ever wonder what goes on behind closed doors as the committees decide the winners of the ALA awards? So do I. And I don’t have any answers for you. But! One of my listservs recently directed me to this letter from the chair of the 2009 Caldecott committee to the incoming 2011 committee. It illuminates some of the hard work and preparation that goes into that final discussion. I can only imagine the heated debates that follow.