By Jan Pease
The American Library Association Midwinter Conference met this week in Philadelphia. As far as I’m concerned, the most interesting thing about the annual midwinter conference is the announcement of the big book awards, the Caldecott and Newbery medal and honor books. I follow the announcements closely, and tend to take it personally when I miss a major award-winning book. The movers and shakers of the library world get together midwinter and midsummer. The next big ALA conference will be in Las Vegas toward the end of June. Given the state of weather in Pennsylvania this winter, I wonder if the attendees wish the locations had been reversed. Really? Las Vegas in June? I digress.
Of course, the Newbery Medal is right at the top of the list. The Newbery Medal is awarded annually by the American Library Association for the most distinguished American children's book published the previous year, beginning in 1922. This year, the Newbery Medal was awarded to Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures, written by Kate DiCamillo, who also wrote Because of Winn-Dixie and The Tale of Despereaux. It's the story of a young comic book enthusiast and cynic, Flora, and a superhero squirrel named Ulysses. Ms. DiCamillo now lives in Minnesota, and is a favorite. Of course we have Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures. Honor books include Doll Bones, by Holly Black, The Year of Billy Miller, by Kevin Henkes, One Came Home, by Amy Timberlake, and Paperboy, by Vince Vawter. I missed Paperboy, which seemed to come out of nowhere. I will order it in February. So we have four out of five, but who’s counting?
The Caldecott Medal is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children. The Caldecott Medal went to Locomotive, written and illustrated by Brian Floca. The book follows family and crew traveling together on America's new transcontinental railroad in the summer of 1869. I put in on the January book order, before the announcements were made. Does that count?
The Honor books include Journey, written and illustrated by Aaron Becker. We have a copy of this lovely book. I chose not to place Flora and the Flamingo, written and illustrated by Molly Idle, in our collection. I reviewed it at Camp Read a Lot last summer, but I felt it just didn’t measure up to other contenders. And it has flaps. Oh well, sometimes you hit, sometimes you miss. The third honor book, Mr. Wuffles!, was written and illustrated by David Wiesner, and is in the book order. I waffled on Mr. Wuffles!
The Coretta Scott King Book Awards are given annually to outstanding African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values. The award commemorates the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and honors his wife, Mrs. Coretta Scott King, for her courage and determination to continue the work for peace and world brotherhood. Although there are several books honored, I usually try to concentrate on the author and illustrator awards. This year, P.S. Be Eleven, written by Rita Williams-Garcia received the author award and is on order. Knock Knock: My Dad's Dream for Me, illustrated by Bryan Collier and written by Daniel Beaty, received the illustrator award. I placed it in the Grove City collection, but probably won’t add it to Litchfield.
Another category that I follow closely is the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for beginning reader book. The award went to The Watermelon Seed, written and illustrated by Greg Pizzoli. The honor books include A Big Guy Took My Ball, written and illustrated by Mo Willems, and Penny and Her Marble, written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes. These three books are in the Litchfield collection. I missed Ball, written and illustrated by Mary Sullivan. I don’t know if we need more books about spherical items.
I was correct about 73% of the time for these major children’s awards. If I went to Litchfield High School this would probably be a C. Oh well. As I mentioned before, sometimes you hit, sometimes you miss. See you at the library!