The Conundrum of The Secret River
Oh, it’s too soon to consider 2012 Caldecott/Newbery books, right? Of course it is. Far too soon. Still in the first flush of the announcements regarding the 2011 winners we should do a bit of maxin’ and relaxin’. Enjoy some adult literature. Sip a gimlet and enjoy all that Masterpiece Theater queuing up on our Netflix Watch Instantly.
Yeah. Skip that. I wanna talk eligibility.
Full credit for today’s post goes to Ms. Jennifer Schultz of the Fauquier County Public Library system. She posed the following query to me the other day and I have to admit it. I am thoroughly and entirely stumped. It may take the clever noggin of my Candlewick co-writer Peter Sieruta to adequately call upon history to answer this question. Here’s what Jennifer had to say:
“I recently ordered the new version of The Secret River (illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon) by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. I told a colleague about it, and since we had just talked about the recent Caldecott/Newbery winners, the awards were on our minds. We wondered if this new version would be eligible for a Caldecott; we looked up the manual and found this:
‘Published…in the preceding year’ means that the book has a publication date in that year, was available for purchase in that year, and has a copyright date no later than that year. A book might have a copyright date prior to the year under consideration but, for various reasons, was not published until the year under consideration. If a book is published prior to its year of copyright as stated in the book, it shall be considered in its year of copyright as stated in the book. The intent of the definition is that every book be eligible for consideration, but that no book be considered in more than one year.’
Would it be eligible? Here’s what we think:
-The new copyright date is 2011, and the illustrations will have an original copyright of 2011. Based on that, we think it would be eligible.
-We found out that it won a Newbery Honor. Don’t know if this affects it. We’re sure that this does disqualify it for any Newbery consideration, of course.
So, could this be an interesting quandary for the upcoming Caldecott committee….to consider a book that was originally published in 1955 with original illustrations, received a Newbery Honor, and was published again in 2011 with new illustrations? Or are we misunderstanding the criteria? Hope we’re not bothering you, but since we don’t personally know anyone who has served on Newbery or Caldecott and is familiar with these types of criteria, we thought we would ask you.”
Now that is an excellent question and one worth pursuing. I think the key lies in the copyright. While it’s true that the illustrations contain a 2011 copyright, the book itself is still going to have an original copyright date of 1955. Since the Caldecott criteria said that, “no book be considered in more than one year” that suggests that since the book was already eligible for a Caldecott in 1956, and in spite of its new pictures, it could not qualify again.
That said, this could be a case where the Caldecott committee gets to decide what does and does not qualify to fall under these restrictions. I could be entirely wrong! After all, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman could have been eliminated from consideration because a chapter had been previously published elsewhere. It was the interpretation of the committee that gave it the golden Newbery in the end.
So what is the answer? I assume it couldn’t qualify, but if the illustrations have a new copyright date . . . . Has this question been seriously addressed before in the past?
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About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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