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Every month, TAB editor Kristin will be sharing her thoughts on five titles from our… Read More

June 1, 2016

It’s Awards Season!

Right now, librarians from across the country (and around the world!) are gathering in Chicago for the annual Midwinter Meeting of the American Library Association. At the conference, behind closed doors and by invitation only, top-secret meetings of a number of awards committees are being held.

All year, committee members have been reading, writing, debating, and deciding on the best books for children and teens published in the United States during 2014. This weekend, they will make their final decisions, and early on Monday morning, they’ll share them with the world.

For those of us who work with children’s books, speculation has been a big part of our lives lately. In recent weeks, I’ve heard my colleagues discuss possible winners, received notes asking for my thoughts on one book or another, witnessed friends refuse to discuss their predictions in an effort to not jinx their favorites, and seen office bookshelves proudly display personal picks.

Today, we’re sharing our hopes for books that might just sport a shiny new sticker after Monday.

Since 1922, the Newbery Medal has been awarded to books that make a lasting contribution to children’s literature. Here are some of our favorites from 2014:

Mia’s pick is Greenglass House by Kate Milford.

I hope to see this book get some Newbery love—it’s an engaging mystery filled with charming details. A bunch of mysterious visitors, the descriptions of the inn itself and its cliff-side community, and the cozy feeling of being snowed in all create a great sense of atmosphere. The kid characters are relatable and the parents are both fun and understanding, which helps the main character’s feelings about being adopted feel nuanced and sensitively handled. The Christmas time frame of the story also makes this feel like a classic that will beg to be re-read every year.

Kristin’s favorite is Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson. (It’s also eligible for the Coretta Scott King Author Award.)

Everyone has a story to tell, and Jacqueline Woodson has hundreds. But in this absolutely lyrical novel, she shares her own story and how she came to be a teller of tales. Covering everything from racism to family relationships, this memoir paints a relatable picture of a difficult and not-so-long-ago time in American history. Brown Girl Dreaming is perfect for everyone who has ever tried to harness their creativity, struggled through school, or simply dealt with the crazy world of growing up.  

Heather’s a huge fan of Cece Bell’s El Deafo. (It’s also eligible for the Schneider Family Book Award.)

If it were possible, I’d give El Deafo all the awards. I’ve never read a memoir like this and I haven’t shut up about it since I read the last panel. The accessibility of the graphic novel format makes it easy to learn about what life is like for hearing-impaired students, but it also reminds readers that the general growing pains of being a kid are universal—whether you have a Phonic Ear or not.

Nicole is campaigning for Jonathan Auxier’s The Night Gardener.

I’m no chicken, but Jonathan Auxier’s spooky, eerie The Night Gardener kept me up way past my bedtime! From the very first page, it offers thrills and chills, reading like a dark fairy tale—familiar elements (a haunted house, for example, and a super-creepy boogeyman) twist in totally terrifying ways. But what really keeps this story from being just a thrill-a-minute horror are the interwoven themes of storytelling and family relationships and a narrative that asks us to consider just how far we’d go for our heart’s desire.

 

The Caldecott Award is given for illustration in honor of the “most distinguished American picture book for children.” 

Catherine and Mariel would both choose Viva Frida by Yuyi Morales. (It’s also eligible for the Pura Belpré Illustrator Award.)

Catherine: Bright, colorful, and engaging—I think Yuyi Morales created some stunning mixed-media artwork. The book itself is also a really great introduction to the spirit of Frida Kahlo.

Mariel: It feels like part movie/part dream. I love how Yuyi Morales uses light and color. She captures the complexity of Frida’s life and her character in bold, colorful, dreamy images. The poetry in Spanish and English creates an intimate dialogue between the reader and Mexico’s most important female painter. Viva Frida is a celebration of strength in the face of difficulty and art as a universal voice.

 Darcy and Caroline both favor Three Bears in a Boat by David Soman.

Darcy: It has some of the most stunning watercolor seascapes I’ve ever seen.

Caroline: I think this book should win because it is beautifully illustrated (especially the pictures of the bears sailing) and Soman provides a clever spin on the Three Bears story. It is adventurous, charming, and makes a wonderful read-aloud. 

Laura is also a big fan of Three Bears in a Boat but also thinks that Jason Chin’s Gravity could win an award. (It’s also eligible for a Sibert Medal for Nonfiction.)

In Gravity, Chin introduces readers to the rather difficult concept of gravity. His stunningly beautiful full-spread illustrations not only make gravity understandable to the youngest learners but highly entertaining as well. Is “float-worthy” a word? Because that’s how I want to describe this book.

Kate is campaigning for DRAW! by Raúl Colón. (It’s also eligible for the Pura Belpré Illustrator Award.)

In the wordless picture book Draw!, a boy suffering from asthma uses the pages in his sketchbook to journey to Africa. Raúl Colón’s illustrations convey two unique settings by altering the style of drawing. Readers will connect with the character and each page will ignite the imagination and send them on a wonderful journey.

 

What books from 2014 would you like to hear announced on Monday morning? You can watch the announcements at 9 a.m. ET on the ALA website!

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January 31, 2015