Wednesday, January 6, 2016


I used make predictions about which books would win the Newbery and Caldecott.
I even got pretty good at it.

But then, a crazy thing happened.

I got on the Caldecott committee.

To quote Into the Woods: “I know things now, many valuable things, that I hadn't known before.”

I know now that until….

-your porch has filled with boxes of books that all have to be read and evaluated carefully…

-you’ve spent a year reading during every ounce of time you have, during evenings, weekends, during time you would have spent with your family…

-you’ve read and analyzed every single book eligible for your award to the best of your ability…

-you’ve weighed and debated over and over which books should be nominated…

-you’ve carefully researched and written nominations with all the intensity of a graduate school thesis…

-you’ve sat in a room for hours and hours and hours and discussed books with people who knew them just as well as you did….

-you’ve taken a book you loved off the table…

-you’ve stared at a small piece of paper asking for your choice for the medal- and you knew that choice mattered….

-you’ve pushed aside all the stars, mock results and commentary and voted for the books you truly thought deserved to win…

-your committee has reached a consensus….

-you’ve been on a speakerphone call and heard the exact second when a person’s life changed completely….

-you’ve held the hands of the other committee members as your winners were announced and as the crowd literally gasped at your decisions…

…. there are a lot of things that are hard to know.

Now that I know what these things feel like, I find it hard to second-guess the work and decisions of someone else who knows too.

There are books I like, books I love, books I hope will win… but I haven’t done the work these committees have, and I haven’t read and studied the full field of eligible contenders.

I wish the members of all the America Library Association Youth Media award committees the best of luck as they prepare for their discussions and decisions this weekend. You’ve worked incredibly hard. Enjoy the phone calls and accolades!

And be sure to read this on Sunday. It says everything I want to tell you the night before the announcement.

I look forward to applauding your choices Monday morning. I will try not to gasp.

If you'd like to follow me as I tweet live from the press conference, join me at @susankusel 

Of all the prediction posts I wrote over the years, this one is my favorite.


  1. As usual, you will be an astonishing and most informative guide to these events!! I look forward to following your tweets.

  2. great post Susan. what a wonderful experience you've had and a beautiful way to honor those who now follow in your footsteps.

  3. Love this, Susan, and especially loved your "night before Newbery" poem! So clever!