Saturday, February 18, 2017

Newbery & Caldecott Children's Book Awards 2017

The Newbery Medal was named for eighteenth-century British bookseller John Newbery. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association. It is presented to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.

Newbery Medal Winner 2017

The Girl Who Drank the Moon, written by Kelly Barnhill and published by Algonquin Young Readers (Newbery Medal Winner 2017)

Kelly Barnhill has already given us the wonderful story of 'The Witch’s Boy', and now she has delivered an incredible coming-of-age fairytale that is simply stunning.

Each year a baby is given as an offering to the witch who lives in the forest. Will this sacrifice keep her terror at bay? Enter Xan, a kind and gentle witch who shares her home with a Swamp Monster named Glerk and a little dragon named Fyrian. It seems Xan rescues the abandoned children each year, and delivers them to happy families on the other side of the forest.

But one year, Xan accidentally feeds a baby moonlight instead of starlight. An ordinary child now has extraordinary magic. She decides she will raise Luna herself. As Luna grows, so does her magic, where will this end?

The Newbery committee chair said of the book: 'This compassionate, hopeful novel invites children everywhere to harness their power, and ask important questions about what keeps us apart and what brings us together'.

Newbery Honour Books 2017
Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life, by Ashley Bryan, written and illustrated by Ashley Bryan and published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
(Newbery Honour Book, 2017) 
Ashley Bryan was inspired by an 1828 estate appraisement, and uses original slave auction and plantation estate documents to develop her story.  In doing so she honours the lives of eleven slaves with a book that blends poetry and collage. The author offers an insight into how slaves were given monetary value and treated badly. But he manages to hold in tension the fact that no-one can take away dreams. Using wonderful paintings and powerful poetry, he offers insight into what each person’s life might have been like on the plantation. This is a memorable picture book.

The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog, written by Adam Gidwitz, illustrated by Hatem Aly and published by Dutton Children's Book (Newbery Honour Book, 2017) 

Adam Gidwitz did six years of research before creating this wonderful book beautifully illuminated by Hatem Aly. The story is set in 13th century France. It is the tale of three 'special' friends who are on the run. Their travels see them taken captured by knights, meeting a king, and saving the land from a 'farting' dragon. They try to escape prejudice and persecution and along the way, save precious and holy texts. The story is told in multiple voices, and is reminiscent of 'The Canterbury Tales'. The illustrations of Hatem Aly work beautifully in concert with a wonderful text.

'A profound and ambitious tour de force. Gidwitz is a masterful storyteller.' —Matt de la Peña, Newbery Medallist and New York Times bestselling author 
Wolf Hollow, written by Lauren Wolk and published by Dutton Children's Books (Newbery Honour Book, 2017)

This is the story of how young girl’s kindness, compassion, and honesty in overcoming bullying.

Set during WWII in rural Pennsylvania, Annabelle has lived a largely ordinary and quiet life, until one day a new student walks into her class. Betty Glengarry soon reveals herself as cruel and manipulative. Annabelle knows only kindness, but needs to find the courage to be a voice against the injustice she is experiencing.

This is a story about America at a crossroads and it takes a young girl’s compassion and strength to act in dark times.

The Caldecott Medal Winner 2017 

The Caldecott Medal was named in honour of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. It 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.

Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, illustrated and written by Javaka Steptoe and published by Little, Brown and Company (2017 Randolph Caldecott Medal Winner and  Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award).
“Somewhere in Brooklyn, between hearts that thump, double Dutch, and hopscotch and salty mouths that slurp sweet ice, a little boy dreams of being a famous artist.”

This wonderful picture book from Javaka Steptoe is a biography that centres on the childhood experiences of the great artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. Steptoe pays tribute to Basquiat’s style with unique and intricate collage-like plates. Steptoe's excellent text and artwork that is an echo of  Basquiat's own style, introduces young readers to the message that art can be very different, and yet beautiful.

Rhonda K. Gould the Caldecott Chair said of the work:

'Steptoe’s engaging art makes Basquiat approachable for children without his complexities.'

Caldecott Medal Honour Books

Leave Me Alone! illustrated and written by Vera Brosgol, and published by Roaring Brook Press (Caldecott Honour Book, 2017).

An epic tale about one grandmother, a giant sack of yarn, and her ultimate quest to finish her knitting.

Granny is keen to finish knitting her sweaters. Some time alone is what she needs. 'Leave me alone!' she shouts and leaves for a journey to the moon to find some peace (as you do!).

Much happens along the way. There are ravenous bears, disgusting goats, and aliens! Nothing will keep her from her goal; she will knit her sweaters for all of her many grandchildren. A wonderful folktale that will work with many children.

Freedom in Congo Square, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie, written by Carole Boston Weatherford and published by Little Bee Books (Caldecott Honour Book, 2017).

This stunning book had already been chosen as New York Times Best Illustrated Book for 2016. It is a poetic work of nonfiction about an unusual and largely unknown piece of African American history. In 19th century Louisiana Congo Square in New Orleans was a place that slaves were able to and set up an open market, where they would play music, dance and sing. This was a rare place of relative freedom where they could forget their cares. As the slaves worked in the hot sun of Louisiana they counted down the days till they could once again go to Congo Square.

'Mondays, there were hogs to slop, mules to train, and logs to chop. Slavery was no ways fair. Six more days to Congo Square.'

Du Iz Tak?, illustrated and written by Carson Ellis and published by Candlewick Press (Caldecott Honour Book, 2017).

A diverse community of anthropomorphic bugs is intrigued by an unfurling sprout. Carson Ellis deftly depicts the mysteries of life in an imaginary, natural world. Through intricate details and the witty humour of a made-up language, “Du Iz Tak?” is a treasure trove of visual and linguistic literacy.

This is follow-up book by Carson Ellis to her acclaimed book 'Home'. The reader is invited to imagine the possibilities with stunning illustrations and playful language. What might we find in the natural world, even our own back garden? The illustrations are detailed and beautiful, and will appeal to children and adults alike.

They All Saw a Cat, illustrated and written by Brendan Wenzel and published by Chronicle Books LLC (Caldecott Honour Book, 2017).

A cat's walk through its everyday world is full of surprises. The cat encounters many creatures along the way. With minimal language that features repetition,  Wenzel uses his art and his words to show the essence of a cat might just be in the eye of the beholder.

It walks through its world, observing curiously. What do we see? Wenzel's work is full of surprises as he explores empathy and perspective.

'A stunning example of the art of weaving poetry and illustrations into an inextricable whole; gracefully pulling the reader into a world where an ordinary insight becomes something beautiful, delightful and profound.' Tom Lichtenheld (illustrator of the New York Times Bestsellers 'Duck! Rabbit!', 'Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site' and 'I Wish You More').

'Both simple and ingenious in concept, Wenzel’s book feels like a game changer.' The Huffington Post