I recently listened to a discussion on MPR with Kurt Anderson about this Vanity Fair article on American culture. He observed that things haven’t changed much in the last 25 years or so, and one of the reasons he cites is a cultural nostalgia. He writes,
“Ironically, new technology has reinforced the nostalgic cultural gaze: now that we have instant universal access to every old image and recorded sound, the future has arrived and it’s all about dreaming of the past.”
Perhaps he’s right. He certainly makes an interesting case. Looking at the area of pop culture I know best–children’s books, obviously–he certainly seems on the mark. Look at last year’s Caldecott Award winner: A Sick Day for Amos McGee has a vintage look to it that make it seem like it could have been a book from my childhood rather than the newly published picture book that it is. Not to mention, last year was clearly a historical fiction year for the Newbery.
If nostalgia is still at play in this year’s awards (announced tomorrow morning, for anyone not eagerly anticipating them like myself!), my predictions are Grandpa Green by Lane Smith for the Caldecott and Okay for Now by Gary Schmidt for the Newbery.
I wouldn’t complain if those were the books that took the awards this year, but I have to admit, there is a part of me that really wants this to be the year for humor. Mostly, I just want I Want My Hat Back to win. It’s kind of dark and cynical in a way that children’s just aren’t usually, and I love it. I’d be surprised if it won, but I’m pulling for it.
In any case, I’m excited! I’ll be up early tomorrow morning to hear the announcements live from the conference in Dallas. Happy awards Monday, everyone! :)