A New Source for The Stars So Far

Elizabeth Bluemle -- March 25th, 2016

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.

4 thoughts on “A New Source for The Stars So Far

  1. Jen J.

    Hi! Thank you so much for your kind words Elizabeth – when I first started getting interested in how stars and best of lists and awards all corresponded I found your work invaluable! When you suspended collection of the stars in late 2010/2011 (temporarily it turned out!), I first started collecting them for my own enjoyment and analysis and then started sharing results from them over on Heavy Medal. And once I had that spreadsheet going…..it was too tempting to continue to collect the data where I would be able to sort it!

    So, thank you kindly for your many years of hard work and for the impetus to collect them. I look forward to any and all analysis. (Although I will have to start including the publisher info……I haven’t done that before, but I’ll try to get it added to this year’s sheet at least!) You certainly do not owe me a thank-you feast – if anything I owe you one!

    I also have spreadsheets for Best Book lists from these same six journals from 2010 through 2015. You can access all of my spreadsheets through my website – just click on my name at the heading of this comment. Thanks again!

    1. Elizabeth Bluemle

      So nice to meet you, my fellow obsessive gatherer! If you’d like, I could help you gather the publisher data for this year (I thought they were already in your file!) — I suppose umbrella publisher and publisher imprint would be two fields we’d need to have. Let me know! ebluemle at publis hers weekl y dot com.

    2. rockinlibrarian

      Holy moly Jennifer Jazwinski you are my new favorite person! Thanks, this makes my own obsessive spreadsheeting (just organizing what I’ve ordered and what I ought to order) so much easier!

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