Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Caldecott Medal 2013

The 2013 Caldecott Medal winner is This Is Not My Hat, written and illustrated by Jon Klassen, published by Candlewick Press.  In this darkly humorous tale, a tiny fish knows it’s wrong to steal a hat. It fits him just right. But the big fish wants his hat back. Klassen’s controlled palette, opposing narratives and subtle cues compel readers to follow the fish and imagine the consequence.
“With minute changes in eyes and the slightest displacement of seagrass, Klassen’s masterful illustrations tell the story the narrator doesn’t know,” Caldecott Chair Sandra Imdieke said.

The Caldecott Medal is 75 years old this year and librarians are celebrating the rich history of these award-winning books and the honor books chosen each year.  Styles, publishing, how color is reproduced now versus 75 years ago, and digital files have all brought changes to the art.  Yet, the medal means more than all of that to me.  It means incorporating storytelling with art.  It means delight upon opening the pages, sharing a book, and wide readership because of a medal.  Even my young grandson knows that having a medal on a book lends importance to it.

Looking at this year's winner, I am struck by the page turn.  A child wants and needs to turn the page to continue the story.  That makes the book a part of the story, and in this case, part of the joke.


Monday, February 04, 2013

2013 Newbery Honor Books

There are three books on the honor list.  In the buzz leading up to the announcement of the awards, only one of the three books generated online conversation, as well as "mock" awards from libraries across the country.

Laura Amy Schlitz, a former Newbery Award winner for Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village in 2008, came up with an Honor Award for her Splendors and Glooms.  Here is a very short synopsis: Lizzie Rose, Parsefall and Clara are caught in the clutches of a wicked puppeteer and a powerful witch in this deliciously dark and complex tale set in Dickensian England, where adventure and suspense are interwoven into nuanced explorations of good versus evil.  I have not read this myself, so I must wait until the library copy is sitting on the shelf again.  In the meantime, I'll be checking out...

Steve Sheinkin's Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon.  I am a HUGE fan of Steve Sheinkin's writing.  He is the author of The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism, & Treachery, last year's winner of the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction.  (Actually Bomb won this year's YALSA Award for Nonfiction, too!)

Bomb is a suspenseful combination of science and history, where Sheinkin masterfully exposes the international race to develop an atomic weapon and bring an end to World War II.  This true-life spy thriller features an international cast of characters and will keep readers on the edge of their seats.  Period photographs of key players and an abundance of primary sources bring this well-researched story to life.  Sheinkin gives readers insight into what happened with all of the major players after the end of the war.  A thought-provoking epilogue on the long term implications of atomic weaponry reminds readers that the results of scientific inquiry have long term implications for everyone.  “In readability, documentation and presentation, Bomb exemplifies the highest quality in nonfiction for young adults, and it as suspenseful as an international spy thriller,” said YALSA Nonfiction Award Chair Angela Frederick.  This is sitting on my nightstand waiting (begging) to be read next.

Lastly, in the Newbery Honor category we have Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage.  In the rich tradition of Southern storytelling, rising sixth-grader Mo LoBeau leads the eccentric residents of Tupelo Landing, North Carolina, on a rollicking journey of mystery, adventure and small-town intrigue as she investigates a murder and searches for her long-lost mother.  This didn't seem to be on anyone's radar, and I look forward to reading it, too.

Never underestimate the power of great reads.  And where will you find those great reads?  From award-winning titles, awards that are chosen by librarians.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Awards Make Memorable Reading

The American Library Association (ALA) announces awards for the best children's and young adult books and media (films and audio books) at this time of year with great fanfare. At least to librarians it feels like great fanfare! Anyone can watch a live broadcast of the announcement and listen to gasps, applause, laughter, and shouts of excitement from the crowd at the presentation. I've been lucky to have been present at a few of these announcements and it truly is a memorable experience.

Let's start with the top prize of the oldest award, the Newbery Award.  This year the gold seal has been placed on The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate.   Ivan’s transformative emergence from the “Ape at Exit 8” to “The One and Only Ivan, Mighty Silverback,” comes to life through the gorilla’s own distinct narrative voice, which is filled with wry humor, deep emotion and thought-provoking insights into the nature of friendship, hope and humanity.  This book is about compassion and empathy for all.  I hope everyone has a chance to read this beautiful book, and the Newbery Award may help make it a classic.