On Monday, January 26, the American Library Association will announce the winners of the Caldecott Award which honors the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children in that year, and the Newbery Award, which honors the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. In honor of these momentous awards, I will be devoting the next week of reviews to Newbery winning titles and maybe an honor winner.
If you are interested, you can watch the awards being announced live at 7:45 AM MT when you click here. Be forewarned, there are about 10 other awards that get announced first...
For a list of past winners, visit the ALA home page.
I will not be making any predictions since the last few winners were news to me. I had not seen the winners on the shelf in the bookstore where I work before they won the medal, and, as usual, I did not see them until about four weeks after the award was announced as the publishers rushed to print enough copies to send out to all of the bookstores that were now happy to keep this heretofore unknown title in stock as long as it had a guaranteed sale sticker on it. I'm on the fence about all of the controversy swirling around this award. While I think it is wonderful that this committee can bring to readers a previously little known title that languished on library shelves, it also feels good to a regular old reader, adult or child, to champion a book that you read and loved and see it win. Sure, I'd love to see Laurie Halse Anderson's Chains win, but I don't think it will. Whatever books do win the gold and silver medals, I will be happy for the hardworking authors who are now assured of a permanent place on the shelves of most bookstores and I will be excited to get my hands on those books and see what the fuss is all about.
For a list of predictions made in October of 08 as well as lots of other interesting, related information, check out this post at a great site I just discovered, Wizards Wireless. More predictions can be found at 100 Scope Notes and in Elizabeth Bird's article at "Mock Newberys and Mock Caldecotts: Who Is Nominated the Most?" .
And, if you really have some free time on your hands, you might be interested in looking into these articles discussing the relevancy, readability and universality of the most recent Newbery picks. Anita Silvey provides a good overview of picks since the awards were first given in 1922 in her article "Has the Newbery Lost It's Way?" In an article for the Washington Post, Valerie Strauss takes these thoughts one step further when she ponders difference between the (usually unheard of until winning) Newbery picks and the quality of more popular books in her article "Plot Twist: The Newbery May Dampen Kids' Reading".
Finally, Melita Marie Garza writing for the Contra Costa Times on December 30, 2008 discusses a study on the lack diversity in the Newbery winners.