Friday, January 27, 2012

2012 Newbery & Caldecott Medal Winners Announced

The Newbery & Caldecott awards for children's literature were announced this week (23rd January 2012). The Newbery Medal was named after the eighteenth-century British bookseller John Newbery.  It is presented to the author of the book judged to have made the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. A committee of librarians and literary experts is chosen each year to select the winner and the runners up on behalf of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC); this is a division of the American Library Association (ALA). The books can be works of fiction, non-fiction and poetry. The author must be a citizen or resident of the United States and the work written for children up to 14 years of age.

The Caldecott Medal was named in honour of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. It is awarded annually to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children. The awards commenced in 1938.

There are also a number of other specialist awards for fiction and non-fiction that were announced on the same day and are outlined at the end of the post.
1. Newbery Medal 2012

The 2012 Newbery Medal winner is 'Dead End in Norvelt' by Jack Gantos and published by Farrar Straus Giroux. This is a very funny story (not that common for Newbery winners) about two months in the life of a kid named Jack Gantos, who accidentally fired a live bullet from his dad's Japanese sniper's rifle. Jack's plans for a vacation are changed when he is "grounded for life" by his parents. But in spite of nose bleeds at every turn, there are plenty of surprises and excitement when his mum 'loans' him to help a feisty old neighbour with an unusual job, typewriting obituaries about the people who founded his town, New Deal. At its core the book is very much about the importance of story and history and the challenges of growing up.

The Newbery Committee chair commented:

Who knew obituaries and old lady death could be this funny and this tender?”

Breaking Stalin's Nose book coverTwo honour books were also announced.

'Inside Out & Back Again' by Thanhha Lai and published by Harper Collins Children's Books (a division of HarperCollins Publishers). It tells the story of Hà and her family who flee war-torn Vietnam for the American South.

'Breaking Stalin's Nose' by Eugene Yelchin and published by Henry Holt and Company. Sasha's world is turned upside down on the eve of his induction into the Young Pioneers, Stalin’s guard arrests his father.

2. Caldecott Medal 2012

A Ball for Daisy book cover imageThe 2012 Caldecott Medal winner is 'A Ball for Daisy' written and illustrated by Chris Raschka and published by Schwartz & Wade Books (an imprint of Random House Children's Books). It is a wordless book that children will love. Chris Raschka presents the story of an irrepressible little dog whose most prized possession is accidently destroyed.  The simple illustrations make wonderful use of line, colour and expressive details. Children will relate to its themes of loss and friendship. The Chair of the Medal committee commented:

“Chris Raschka’s deceptively simple paintings of watercolour, gouache and ink explore universal themes of love and loss that permit thousands of possible variants”.

The judges also announced three honour books.

'Blackout', written and illustrated by John Rocco and published by Hyperion Books (an imprint of the Disney Book Group). This tells the story of an urban family that is forced into the street by a summer power outage. Here they throw a block party that attracts many of their neighbours.

Grandpa Green book cover image'Grandpa Green', written and illustrated by Lane Smith and published by Roaring Brook Press (a division of Holtzbrinck Publishing Holdings Ltd). Smith uses elaborate topiary sculptures to visualize memories in a wild and fanciful garden tended by a child and his beloved great-grandfather.

'Me...Jane', written and illustrated by Patrick McDonnell and published by Little, Brown and Company (a division of Hachetter Book Group Inc.). A little girl is watching birds and squirrels in her yard and discovers the joy and wonder of nature.

Other major awards

a) The 'Printz Award' - This prize for the best young adult novel, was awarded to 'Where Things Come Back' by John Corey Whaley and published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers (an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing).  Seventeen-year-old Cullen Witter thinks he is beginning to understand everything about his small, dull Arkansas town, until one day all is changed when a depressed birdwatcher named John Barling thinks he has discovered a species of woodpecker once thought to be extinct. The rediscovery of the so-called Lazarus Woodpecker changes everything.

b) The 'Coretta Scott King' Award - This award recognises African American writers and illustrators of children's books. It was won by 'Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans' by author and illustrator Kadir Nelson and published by Balzer & Bray (an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers).

c) The 'Young Adult Library Services Association' (YALSA) Award - This is a prize for the best work of nonfiction for young adults aged 12-18 years. It was won by 'The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism, & Treachery' by Steve Sheinkin and published by Flash Point/Roaring Brook Press (an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group).

d) The 'Pura Belpre Award - This is an award to a Latino or Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays the Latino cultural experience in a work of literature for children or youth. The winner is 'Under the Mesquite' by Guadalupe Garcia McCall and published by Lee and Low Books Inc. Writing in engaging free verse, the author gracefully manages to convey the experience of growing up in a bicultural community in Texas. She manages to communicate authentically the experience of a child losing her mother to cancer but also of being surrounded by siblings who embrace and discard their Mexican roots to varied degrees.

e) The 'Theodor Seuss Geisel Award' - This is an award for the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished American book for beginning readers published in English. The winner is 'Tales for Very Picky Eaters', that was written and illustrated by Josh Schneider and published by Clarion Books (an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company). In spite of the outrageous food suggestions of his Dad, James, the very pick eater, turns the tables on his father

f) The Margaret A. Edwards award for lifetime achievement in young adult literature was awarded to English author Susan Cooper. Her well-known fantasy book 'The Dark is Rising' was named a Newbery Honour book in 1974. This of course was part of the wonderful series of the same name. She also won the Newbery Medal in 1976 for the fourth book in the series 'The Grey King'.

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