The Biebs and Ivan Connection: My (Serious) 2013 Newbery Insight

For the sake of clarity: this post is about making the connection between two very talented people from different spheres (Katherine Applegate and Justin Bieber) and how social media has contributed to the buzz about those talents.  It is not a post about calling into question these people’s talents (even if Justin Bieber isn’t your cup of tea, he writes songs, plays several instruments and is a pretty dang good singer while bouncing around on stage).

I do not think Katherine Applegate won a Newbery because of Twitter.  I think she won one because she is extremely, undeniably talented.  Same thing with Bieber: I don’t think he wins awards because of Twitter.  I think he wins them because he is also talented.

While anyone can, of course, disagree with my opinions on what constitutes talent, I want to make it clear that this post is about observing a tremendously positive, exciting change in the way readers are celebrating books for young people on social media.  I think Twitter has changed the level of excitement about the Newbery in a very good way.  I do not think Twitter had anything to do with the fact that a very deserving book – The One and Only Ivan – won the Newbery.  No matter the state of technology when it was published, Ivan would have won.  I really believe that. So…

Stay with me on this one.

So in November, Oprah interviewed Justin Bieber and commented that he is like no other celebrity in history because of social media.  Essentially she says (and quite smartly, I think) that Biebs can’t really be considered on the same level as Elvis or The Beatles or even Michael Jackson because of the role that Twitter played in his rise to success.

Y’all, I think the same thing happened to The One and Only Ivan this year.  It’s a Newbery game changer.

I don’t have Photoshop. Can you tell?

To my knowledge, this is the first time there has ever been a real concentrated rallying around a particular Newbery contender on Twitter.  Sure, there have been predictions and fan favorites and things, but nothing like what Mr. Schu and Colby Sharp started; from Twitter chats to vlogging to hashtagging ’round the clock, I’d say there was a definite Ivan movement. In 2011, there certainly wasn’t a Moon Over Manifest movement as no one had read the dang thing.  And while I remember tons of buzz around When You Reach Me for the 2010 prize, I don’t think there was the kind of mobilization that there was with Ivan. And in January 2009, only the really cool kids were on Twitter.

To further my point, has a Newbery award winner ever thought of a blogger(s) immediately after hearing the news of winning the award?

And has a Newbery award winner ever thanked a Twitter community or blogger(s) in their acceptance speech?  Not that I know of, and I’ll betcha my little blue bowler hat that’s gonna happen come Chicago.

It’s the future, folks. Let’s celebrate with this song from The Jetsons movie that, when I was eight years old, considered THE MOST ROMANTIC THING OF ALL TIME.

 

4 thoughts on “The Biebs and Ivan Connection: My (Serious) 2013 Newbery Insight”

  1. This is all very true, although I think this sort of lobbying has the potential to backfire as well–resulting in a good book not being recognized at all.

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  2. Coming here via Travis’s link . . .

    Not to take anything away for the tremendous Twitter enthusiasm for THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN, but the reason this book won the Newbery Medal has more to do with Katherine Applegate and the 15 members of the Newbery committee than anything else, really.

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  3. Absolutely, Jonathan. Totally agree with you (and I hope my post doesn’t imply otherwise). I didn’t want to communicate that I thought the book won because of Twitter as I don’t think that is the case AT ALL. Rather, social media just gave fans – librarians, teachers, other authors, etc.- a place to have discussion and share the love with a new fervour that I ultimately think is a good, exciting thing.

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