Tuesday, February 3, 2015

READING IS FUNDAMENTAL:  For an eighth straight year, Christy in NYC has the scoop from the American Library Association's annual awards for the best in children's publishing:
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Hello friends! This past weekend, nestled in among big games, groundhogs, and public-transportation-crippling winter storms, Children’s Book Christmas went on as planned in Chicago—also known as the American Library Association Midwinter Meeting. More specifically, on Monday, all the biggest awards in the children’s book industry were announced. The big three are as follows:
  • John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children's literature: “The Crossover,” written by Kwame Alexander
  • Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children: “The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend,” illustrated by Dan Santat
  • Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults: “I’ll Give You the Sun,” written by Jandy Nelson
But the full list of winners and honors is particularly fun to peruse this year. Here are my three big observations:
  • This list has diverse characters and creators—not just the whole list, but each individual award’s list as well, bringing to mind the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign that was (and continues to be) such a prominent part of the public discussion about kids’ books in 2014.
  • This list also has diversity of format, with a graphic novel appearing in the honors list for all three of the big awards. This also led to the same book ending up on the honors list for both the Printz Award for young adult books and the Caldecott list for picture books, for what I’m pretty sure is the first but far from last time.
  • And this list honors many books published by small and medium publishers—perhaps it is a little inside baseball to bring up, but in an industry where the big companies are rapidly getting bigger and fewer, it’s interesting to see some smaller ones come into the spotlight.
So let’s discuss kids’ books! Did your 2014 favorites make the lists? And what are you and your kids enjoying these days, award-winners or not?


  1. Genevieve3:27 PM

    I was excited about all three Newbery books - really terrific choices, and so glad that El Deafo wasn't eliminated from consideration due to being a graphic novel. The Crossover is wonderful, and it will be great for it to live on forever in the Newbery Medal pantheon.
    The book I missed seeing more of was The Family Romanov, which I thought was one of the best children's nonfiction I've ever read. I had thought would win the Sibert Medal for nonfiction (it won an honor) and had strong hopes would be on the Newbery or Printz honors lists. I wonder if being in the age overlap between the two (ages 12-14) was a problem, but probably not, as the Newbery Medal winning The Crossover fits those ages too (though could skew younger as well). It was interesting that the three winners (I would have loved to have seen more Honors) were all different formats from the typical middle-grade novel: one novel-in-verse, one memoir-in-verse, and one graphic novel. I think the best books this year weren't the middle-grade novels, though (and I'm one who usually prefers them).
    Other books I would've been happy to see in Newbery though I didn't really expect them: Greenglass House, a great cozy mystery with other interesting elements, which I would have loved at age 10-12; The Fourteenth Goldfish, a fun what-if book (rather than really being science fiction) in which the main character's grandfather invents a potion of youth, and turns himself into a teenager; Absolutely Almost. I would not have been surprised to see, and would have welcomed, West of the Moon or The Night Gardener. And while I definitely didn't expect to see it for Newbery, if you want a charming book, A Snicker of Magic is definitely that, and I would have liked it a lot at ages 8-10.
    Very happy with the Printz winner (I'll Give You the Sun was one of my favorites this year) and the one Honor I've read, This One Summer, the one that also got the Caldecott. Some people are bemoaning that a book with some young adult content that is definitely not for small kids (but is suitable for many kids in the top of the Caldecott age range, 13-14), may accidentally be checked out for young children now. But with a Printz sticker on it that says it has a Young Adult award, that doesn't seem likely. It's a really well-told story of tweens dealing with adolescence, with overhearing teens talking about sex etc., with overhearing parents talking about adult topics like miscarriage, and with dealing with one tween at times feeling less mature than her friend.
    Other young adult books I've really liked this year: Gabi, A Girl in Pieces (the winner of the Morris award for best debut), a really striking book with a terrific voice; Everything Leads to You, which was less heavy than most YA books this year and was delightful; How It Went Down (which got a Coretta Scott King Honor), which I thought was astoundingly good and heartrending, especially in the wake of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown; We Were Liars, which I didn't love as much as previous E. Lockhart books but still was great.
    I'm not as up on picture books anymore, but am psyched that Dan Santat won the Caldecott as I've always liked his books. I loved Shannon Hale's The Princess in Black, an early reader with a lot of humor and a princess with ninja moves.

  2. Tara Kennedy2:27 PM

    Kwame Alexander is a DC area author, so I'm thrilled to see a local author receive such wonderful kudos.