Tuesday, April 13, 2010

What if the Top 100 Children's Novels Poll had....

While tabulating all the data from Fuse#8's Top 100 Children's Novels Poll I was fasinated by the way some titles accrued points by earning lots of 10th, 8th and 9th place votes while others earned their spots by earning less votes of higher value. There is an argument to be made that the more votes a title recieves, regardless of the value of the vote, signifies a certain universal acknowledgment of excellence. Alternately those books which did not earn as many votes but were placed closer to first on the top tens in which they were selected signifies a deeper affection felt by those who chose to recognize them at all. For example: Wilson Rawls' Where the Red Fern Grows was placed 46th on the list with only 11 votes. Other titles with an equal number of votes ranged between 81st and 60th. What allowed Where the Red Fern Grows to surpass all of the other titles with 11 votes and many titles with votes in the high teens? Well, of Where the Red Fern Grows' 11 votes an almost half (5) were 1st place votes! Those who placed Where the Red Fern Grows on their top 10s placed it at the top or near the top in all but one instance. The vote tally was: 5 firsts, 1 second, 2 thirds, 2 fourths and 1 tenth place vote. 91% of the title's votes were in the top 5 and 73% were in the top 3. Where the Red Fern Grows earned 90 points from its 11 votes. (5*10)+(1*9)+(2*8)+(2*7)+(1*1) = 90
I use a measure I termed 'Average Vote Rank' to assign a measure to a books "belovedness" regardless to how many votes it received. A book which only receives first place votes will have an average vote rank of 1, and a book with only tenth place votes (regardless of how many 10th place votes) will have an average vote rank of 10. Where the Red Fern Grows has an Average Vote Rank of 2.82 which is the lowest of any book in the top 100. Charlotte's Web the #1 book has an Average Vote Rank of 3.56 (the 7th best average rank on the list).

Monday, April 12, 2010

Breaking down the completed top 100

This morning Fuse#8 announced to no one's surprise that E.B. White's Charlotte's Web was indeed the #1 children's novel. With this announcement, the top 100 is finally complete. There is no longer a need to make predictions so this post will focus on breaking down the top 100 titles in a variety of ways.

When all was said and done, 73 of the titles were originally published in the United States (this includes Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory which was published on this side of the Atlantic before it was published in the UK). Twenty four of the titles on the list were first published in the United Kingdom. The remaining three titles came from: Germany (Inkheart), Sweden (Pippi Longstocking) and Canada (Anne of Green Gables). These percentages where pretty steady throughout the countdown. The final top ten included 7 American titles, 2 British titles and one Canadian title.

Series books accounted for 61 of the titles in the top 100. While titles 100-61 held at a steady 70% series books. The numbers began fluctuating pretty wildly for the rest of the countdown. Interestingly enough, titles 10-1 feature 6 series books, right on the average for the whole list. The bar graph below how the series numbers fluctuated.

Throughout the countdown the 1990s and 2000s lead in number of titles. The 1990s ended up with 19 titles and the 2000s had 17 titles. The 1960s picked up steam at towards the end of the countdown end finished with 13 titles. The bar graph below shows the full distribution of titles. The right hand side of the graph shows a dirth of older titles. Only 7 titles from the decades prior to the creation of the Newbery Medal.

Which single year had the most titles? It was a tie actually. Both 1997 and 2003 had four titles in the top 100. 1997 titles are: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (#3), Out of the Dust (#76), The Thief (#83) and Ella Enchanted (#92). 2003 titles are: The Tale of Despereaux (#22), Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (#38), Inkheart (#59) and The City of Ember (#77).

Number of titles however is only half the story. When we examine the distribution of points, votes and 1st place votes by decade, the 00s drops to fourth place behind 1990s, 1960s and 1950s. The chart below shows the points, votes, and 1st place votes as a percentage of all points or votes counted by decade.

(click on the graphs to see a larger/clearer copy)

While their are 6 more titles from the 2000s than the 1970s, the 1970s actually earned one more 1st place vote than the first decade of this century. Thanks to Charlotte's Web's 31 first place votes, the 1950s had one more first place vote (51) than the 1960s (50) and 1990s (50).

Another statistic which has remained pretty constant over the course of the countdown is the age of the author at time of publication. It seems as though an author's 40s really are his or her most productive years. 43% of the top 100 were published when the author was between the ages of 40-49. If we expand this range a mere two years in both directions we end up with nine more titles - 52 titles written by authors between the ages of 38 and 51. The pie chart below shows the entire breakdown by age decade. Louis Sachar remained the youngest author on the list. He was 24 when Sideway Stories from Wayside School was first published (he was 42 when title #6 Holes was published). Roald Dahl is our oldest author. He published Matilda at the age of 72, Matilda was also Dahl's highest ranking title (17th).

When we breakdown the titles by gender we can see that 62 titles where written by a female. The graph below shows the percentage of titles written by females by ranking group (quintile in this case).

Fifteen authors have more than one title in the top 100. J.K. Rowling led the way with 6 titles, followed by Roald Dahl with 5, and Beverly Cleary with 4.

Here's a list of all the multiple title authors: (arranged by number of titles followed by total points accumulated)

J.K. Rowling
Roald Dahl
Beverly Cleary
Kate DiCamillo
Laura Ingalls Wilder
Francis Hodgson Burnett
E.L. Konigsburg
Lois Lowry
Louis Sachar
Katherine Paterson
Jerry Spinelli
Judy Blume
Christopher Paul Curtis
Elizabeth Enright
Sharon Creech
Lloyd Alexander

This is a veritable pantheon of children's literature greatness. The tonnage of medals, honors and lifetime achievement awards encompassed by these fifteen authors is quite staggering when you stop and think about it.

Votes, first place votes and total points really skyrocketed with the top ten. Below is a graph showing the points earned by each titles.

As you can see the trend is very linear until #16 and then starting at #11 really starts increasing rapidly. Titles 9 - 5 (Anne of Green Gables, The Secret Garden, The Giver, Holes, From the Mixed Up Files...) were all quite close and then titles 4 - 1 again showed lots of separation.

751 points for Charlotte's Web is really quite astonishing. As I mentioned in the comment section of Fuse8's post, Charlotte's Web not only earned an incredible amount of points, but did so with lots of top votes. 31 of Charlotte's Web's 101 votes were 1st place votes and 75.2% were top 5 votes. Only 83 of Charlotte's Web's 751 points came from 10th - 6th place votes. In other words Charlotte's Web would have still come in 1st place even if all the 1oth-6th place votes were ignored. That's a whole lot of love for Charlotte's Web!

Looking at the bar graph below, which shows the total votes and first place votes by ranking group, you can really appreciate the remarkable amount of consensus reached by all the voters.

Well over twice as many votes were seen in titles 1-10 than 11-20!

Below is the distribution of all the votes counted in the top 100 titles. 263 1st place votes were counted. We know somewhere between 300-400 people submitted top 10s so there are lots of books that received 1st place votes but failed to make the list. Can't wait to see all the titles that didn't make the cut.

Unfortunately googledoc's spreadsheet application cannot execute all the formulas I had to employ to get my spreadsheet to work properly so I can't just post it as a viewable spreadsheet, but I will email it to anyone you would like to see all the data I've compiled. Just send me an email and I'll send it right off to you.

Tomorrow I will post some alternate Top 100s found by using different scoring methods. Check back tomorrow to see how Anne of Green Gables can make it into the top 5 and how Percy Jackson can get booted all the way down to #41!

Questions, comments and corrections are always appreciated. I will get to a breakdown by publisher eventually but that one is quite time consuming.

BoB Bracket winner (a week late)

I want to apologize for posting this so late. Spring Break is too sacred to do any blogging. Sorry.

The winner of the Battle of the Books Bracket Contest is ALYS!!!

Not a single contestant picked The Frog Scientist as the zombie choice. And no one picked Marching for Freedom as the Battle of the Books Champion. Thanks all for participating. Maybe next year we will be luckier or the judges will be less insane.

Congrats to Alys, and huge congrats to Elizabeth Partridge and her book Marching for Freedom the SLJ's Battle of the Books Champion!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

post semis Battle of the Books Leader Board

Quarterfinal and Semifinal rounds are over. The Leader Board is updated! Five points are up for grabs tomorrow when the zombie title is announced. Eight points will be awarded to those who chose the winner.

Leader Board
1. Alys - 16 points
2. Jen Baker - 15
2. Steven - 15
4. maggie - 14
4. LaughingAlegra - 14
6. DaNae - 13
7. MelodyP - 12
7. Scope Notes - 12
7. March Madness - 12
10. Erin Broderick - 10
10. Chris Spitzel - 10
10. rpsmedia - 10
13. Selin Rahawk - 9
14. Sam - 8
15. Adam G - 7
16. Norman Bee - 7

I am so glad The Lost Conspiracy was able to survive three tough battles and reach the finals! Nine contestants correctly guessed Judge Megan Whalen Turner's decision. While I'm still bitter over When You Reach Me's early exit, I do agree with Judge Walter Dean Myer's choice of Marching for Freedom which I thought was the 3rd best book on the bottom half of the bracket (behind WYRM and Marcelo). I was really hoping to see "Mr. Walter Dean Myers" opinion on WYRM since like many of his own novels, NYC plays such an important role. For the record seven contestants had Marching to Freedom reaching the finals via Judge Myers' decision, yet no one picked Marching for Freedom as the champion book, and only 4 people picked Lost Conspiracy winning it all.

Tomorrow's zombie reveal should be interesting. I hope the interwebs didn't allow the entirety of the Percy Jackson fan base to find out about the voting and use their numbers to outweigh more informed voters' picks. The bracket challenge participants' most chosen zombie title was When You Reach Me with 12 picks. Four titles: Calpurnia Tate, Fire, Marcelo and Tales of Outer Suburbia were all chosen by 6 contestants.