For the past several years, I’ve maintained a list of the year’s starred reviews for children’s books, posting quarterly updates here in ShelfTalker. The review sources have been: the Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books (BCCB), Booklist, Horn Book, Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, and School Library Journal. The task is straightforward and sounds simple, but takes many, many, many, many hours to gather, add to a spreadsheet, standardize the listings, and make them into a printable list for readers.
I’d been gathering the 2016 stars since fall 2015, and was starting to compile my first quarter’s roundup when a random post on the Child_Lit listserv (an online children’s literature discussion list I highly recommend) led me to a miraculous discovery: someone else had started pulling together starred reviews! Woot!
Not only does this angelic soul, librarian Jennifer Jazwinski of the Algonquin Area Public Library, create the kind of spreadsheet I used to track starred reviews, she actually created a public document to share it in spreadsheet format, which means that you can sort the list any way you want. For instance, you can look at the breakdown of awards by publisher, or sort by authors and see if, say, the inimitable Steve Jenkins has earned as many stars this year as he did last year, or compare fiction to nonfiction stars. It’s a gold mine, people, and it’s all yours, courtesy of Jen J!
I can’t really think about the fact that she’s been doing this since 2011 — that’s five years of my not having needed to duplicate efforts! *sob* — but boy, am I grateful. And so will all of you wonderful teachers and librarians who write to me asking for the Stars So Far.
So, without further ado, I am delighted to direct you to Jen J’s Starred Titles for 2016! Please join me in thanking her for taking on this monumental task. And Jen, if you ever read this, let this post stand as a coupon for a thank-you feast I’m happy to treat you to whenever our paths cross at a conference someday!
*Bonus nugget: Jen’s spreadsheet also includes tabs for former years’ stars back to 2011, so the researchers and data sorters among you can have a field day tracking results and trends.
P.S. The fact that I won’t be spending all the hours compiling the starred reviews means that I will be able to write posts looking at the data itself. I’m looking forward to that.