Monday, January 14, 2008

ELEPHANT! PIGGIE! The American Library Association announced its annual awards for outstanding children's books today. For a recap, we turn to an expert, guest-blogger and regular commenter Christy:

The 2008 ALA literary award winners were announced today, the most famous of which being the John Newbery Medal, followed closely by the Caldecott, Printz, and Coretta Scott King awards, among many others.

Last year, while the Printz broke new ground by giving the gold to a graphic novel for the first time, the Newbery list was arguably underwhelming in that it consisted solely of quiet books with passive female protatgonists. What about boy readers? This year, the buzz has been relatively low in the kidlit world overall, but when it comes to the books people have been talking about, it's definitely been The Year of the Boy. The National Book Award for Young People's Literature went to The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie back in November. Though that title was (as tends to be tradition) shut out of this morning's awards, we also saw recognition of The Wednesday Wars (my favorite this year) by Gary Schmidt, Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis, and The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, all middle grade novels with boy protagonists. Taking everything into account, though, it was a bit of an oddball list this year. A few particulars (and forgive me the formality, but nothing I've written here reflects the opinion of my employer):

John Newbery Medal: Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village by Laura Amy Schlitz, which was very popular among the librarian bloggers this year. It's both a very unusual choice--a mix of poetry and history and illustration which strives to teach and evoke the organization and feel of a medieval village--and a bit predictable, in that it's the kind of book that would appeal to librarians more than anyone. But it's cool to see this award go to a non-fiction title, especially an unconventional one.

Michael L. Printz Award: The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean. Last year, all but one of the honorees of this award were male. This year, it's all female authors, with the possible exception of A. M. Jenkins, who seems to go out of their way to avoid revealing their gender. I must admit that none of the books on this list were on my radar. And I read a lot of YA last year.

Randolph Caldecott Medal: The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick. This unusual book, told partly in prose and partly in cinematic black and white illustrations, was probably the most talked-about kids' book of the year. Many bloggers worried that it wouldn't be considered quite right for either the Newbery (which doesn't take illustration into account) or the Caldecott (which traditionally goes to a picture book). So Hugo's fans breathed a sigh of relief when this committee also decided to do something a little different this year.

Coretta Scott King Award: Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis (author) and Let It Shine by Ashley Bryan (illustrator). Elijah of Buxton also got a Newbery Honor.

Theodore Seuss Geisel Award: There is a Bird on Your Head! by Mo Willems. An ALOTT5MA favorite, Mr. Willems also got his third Caldecott honor this morning for Knuffle Bunny Too. The relatively new Geisel award, for a distinguished book for beginning readers, is quickly becoming an interesting award that takes both text and illustration into account. Last year's winner, Not a Box by Antoinette Portis, is decidedly not a beginning reader, but is still a really interesting offering that wouldn't have been given a second look for Newbery or Caldecott awards.

I know we have many kids' book connoisseurs reading this, as well as parents of kids' book connoisseurs; thoughts on these choices? What were your favorites this year?

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