On Monday, January 18, the American Library Association will announce the winners of the most prestigious awards in American children's literature -- the Newbery Medal, given for the best-written children's book, and the Caldecott Medal, given for the best-illustrated children's book.
These awards are chosen annually by selected committees of librarians and other children's book experts. The committees meet in secret and pledge never to divulge the content of their meetings.
But there's plenty of talk among librarians who aren't on the Newbery and Caldecott committees. Some libraries hold mock Newbery or Caldecott award selection events at which participants discuss a pre-selected group of books and then vote on which they think deserves a Newbery or Caldecott.
Here's a link to my Scripps Howard News Service column this week in which I round-up some of the top Newbery and Caldecott possibilities:
The winner of every mock Caldecott so far has been The Lion & the Mouse, an Aesop's fable masterfully illustrated by Jerry Pinkney. This definitely would be my pick as well. If Pinkney wins, he would be the first individual African-American to win the Caldecott Medal since it was established in 1938; an interracial couple, Leo and Diane Dillon, have won two Caldecott Medals.
In the mock Newbery events, there have been several winners. One popular favorite is When You Reach Me, a novel by Rebecca Stead. Another novel, Where the Mountain Meets the Moon by Grace Lin also has won several mock Newbery events. Two non-fiction books, Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose, and Marching For Freedom by Elizabeth Partridge, also have been running strong in the mock contests. In addition, two other books, a debut novel titled The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly and The Dunderheads, a highly-illustrated novella by Newbery Medalist Paul Fleischman also are on the short lists of many mock Newbery events.
My pick would either be Claudette Colvin or The Dunderheads, but my guess is that When You Reach Me likely will be the actual Newbery winner. Few non-fiction books have won the Newbery Medal, which generally goes to a novel, so Claudette Colvin isn't a likely choice. And The Dunderheads would be a highly unusual choice for the Newbery because it has so many illustrations. The criteria for the Newbery Medal state that illustrations can be considered only if they detract from the text in a book.
So... stayed tuned for Monday's announcement! I'll post comments on the winners then.Posted by at January 14, 2010 04:45 PM