Doesn’t it drive you crazy when someone knows a big secret, and talks on and on about it without telling you what it is? That’s how I felt tonight. I went along to a very nice restaurant, for a very nice dinner, with some very nice company to hear someone tell us all about big secret – but without telling us what it was!
We were having the special dinner because of the Children’s Book Council Book of the Year Awards. One of the judges talked to us about the shortlisted books, and explained the selection process. What I didn’t realise until tonight was that the Book of the Year has already been chosen! We don’t find out about it until about August, but the judge who spoke tonight already knows what it is! There are really five B.O.T.Y., each one in a different category, which makes this secret thing five times worse. OK, I can see why the Book Council does this: it’s a way to trick people into reading more books. If they just came out and said “This year the Book of the Year for Older Readers is Fiona Woods’ Six Impossible Things,” then everyone would rush out and buy it and read it. If they awarded 2nd, 3rd and 4th place, then some people might read a couple of those as well. Instead, they announce a shortlist, but they don’t announce the winner yet. And what do we do? We try to rush out to get all the shortlisted books! It’s trickery, it’s underhand, it’s manipulation of the masses – and it works.
The judge who talked to us was fantastic, by the way. She praised all the shortlisted books, read from most of them, and explained some of the qualities that saw the books shortlisted. But not once did she reveal any of the secrets. No winks, no subtle smiles, no telling glances gave anything away. There was simply no way of guessing which book from each category was a winner. The judge made each book sound equally enticing to read, and I’m looking forward to reading every one of them. The trick worked on me. But it was so infuriating that she knew who the winners were, and we didn’t!