By Noelle, Librarian Extraordinaire
And the Winner Is….
Ah, in the dead of winter, it is the time when academies of all kinds decide to hand out their top prizes. The Grammys, the Golden Globes, the Academy Awards, the Newbery and Caldecott….
Wait! What were those last two? Well, probably the only ones that you, as parents, might actually care about in regards to your children.
Awards You Might Actually Care About
Every January, the American Library Association announces at their Midwinter Meeting the winners for the best children’s and teen literature and media of the past year. Committees are formed far in advance of each year’s awards, and spend their year reading every book a publisher sends them, then meeting multiple times with their committee to choose the winners. There are actually 10 categories of awards for children’s materials alone.
Why does this matter to you and your kids? Well, besides providing an excellent place to find great book choices for your children, odds are that your kid will also have to read a Newbery or Caldecott award winner at some point during their school years.
So what the heck are they? The most famous are the Newbery and Caldecott Awards. The Newbery is awarded to the best children’s literature of the year written by an American author. The Caldecott is awarded to the best illustrated book for children by an American illustrator. There can be only one winner, but there can be any number of runners up. Authors and illustrators are particularly thrilled by winning these awards since it guarantees sales of your book and that your book pretty much will never go out of print.
Now in some years, the choices for these awards get raised eyebrows from those of us in the profession. We, on the outside, wonder why a book that is extremely depressing and that we would never hand to a child to read won the Newbery, or why those crazy colors and that strange storyline won the Caldecott. But for the most part, librarians, publishers, authors, etc., rejoice at the winners.
And this was a pretty good year.
A Depression Era Story That Lifts Your Spirits
The Newbery Award was taken by the book Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool. I happened to have read it very recently and immediately was taken with it and thought it could be a winner. Set in the 1930’s in fictional Manifest, Kansas, a young girl named Abilene is dropped off there by her father as he pursues work elsewhere. Abilene soon finds herself uncovering the secrets of the town’s past through stories told by the local fortuneteller. It is a wonderful piece of storytelling about your family being what you make it mixed with funny tales of the inhabitants of a small town. Yes, there is a girl on the cover, but fear not! Much of the story told inside focuses on two boys, so yes, even boys might be convinced to read this book.
Runners up this year include Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer Holm (which I noted as a good choice in my article Batteries Not Required Part 2), Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus, Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night by Joyce Sidman, and One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia. The committee clearly loved historical fiction this year, as all but the poetry book are in that genre.
When Visiting the Zoo Pays Off
The Caldecott Medal was won by A Sick Day For Amos McGee, illustrated by Erin Stead and written by Philip Stead. Amos visits the zoo every day to interact with his animal friends. But on the day he is sick, the animals decide to return the favor and go to visit him at home. A charming story.
Runners up included Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave illustrated by Bryan Collier, written by Laban Carrick Hill and the amusing Interrupting Chicken illustrated and written by David Ezra Stein.
What are the other categories, you ask? You can find the full list of winners of all the different categories at the American Library Association’s website through this link. Other awards include such topics as best audiobook, best book for teens, best children’s non-fiction, best easy reader, best books written by an African-American author and illustrator, and so on.
As an aside, my article titled Batteries Not Included Part 1 featured my crush on author/illustrator Mo Willems, who I am happy to say garnered a Geisel Honor Award for his easy reader We Are In a Book! Way to go, Mo! Again.
If there any books your library or bookstore are sure to have, it will be the big winners of these awards. So check them out!
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|Noelle has been a children’s librarian for over 15 years. She’s also been a student teacher, worked as an online account manager, worked in a pet shop and as a supermarket checkout clerk, and as a dishwasher and fry cook. She is the proud mom of a beautiful daughter. You can read more of Noelle’s book reviews at Rave Reviews Log
Noelle can be reached at “Noelle @ DadDoes.Com”