Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword by Barry Deutsch Amulet/Abrams Keeper by Kathi Appelt Atheneum/Simon & Schuster Judged by Susan Patron
For me, the first Battle was in being assigned a book, Keeper, whose author Kathi Appelt had six months earlier provided a gorgeous blurb for my own new book. Some of her Acknowledgment read like some of my Acknowledgment; we share a much-loved editor.
I explained the dilemma and asked my Commander at SLJ for a different set of books to judge.
He wrote to me, “Actually, since the world of children’s book writers isn’t all that huge, we’ve had stuff like that happen in the past,” and he asked me to try to forge ahead, as had judges in previous years. Plus, it was too late in the process to re-assign books.
I wrestled with the problem, my inner librarian springing into action. “Oh, come on,” she said. “We are professionals at this; we judge the book, not the author. “
Yes, my inner writer shot back, but this is really difficult. It will look like I compromised myself if Appelt’s book wins and it will look base and ungenerous to her if it doesn’t.
My inner librarian flared up. “You won’t compromise yourself because you will be transparent, honest, and straightforward. And Kathi Appelt certainly expects no reciprocation for the blurb; it underestimates her to assume that.”
Well, true enough. I, too, have blurbed other authors’ books, and only when I genuinely loved the books, …