My Newbery & Caldecott Award Picks

I may say this every year, but it always seems true: It has been a good year for children’s books.  As usual, I am more excited about the Youth Media Awards announcement on Monday than I am about the Academy Awards or the Grammy’s or any other honor. Newbery, Caldecott, Printz, etc. These are the awards that matter in my world.

drumdreamgirlmarketstreet_bgThere are so many great picture books this year, but there are two, in particular, that I really want to be honored in some way on Monday.  Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña and illustrated by Christian Robinson, which I blogged about here, is a personal favorite. It’s a quiet story, but full of warmth.  Dream Drum Girl by Margarita Engle and illustrated by Rafael López is a book for dreamers of any age. I am rooting for both of these to pick up a Caldecott Medal or Honor.  But I realize that the competition is tough.

thingaboutjellyfishechowarthatsavedThe Newbery is a harder to predict for me as I haven’t been able to read as many of the eligible titles this year.  Of what I have read, three stand out: Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan, The Thing about Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin, and The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley.  I think all three of these might make you cry a little, if you’re like me anyway, but they all offer a bit of hope too.  No matter how the awards shake out on Monday, I hope you’ll read them and share them.

I’ll decline to mention any Printz hopefuls due to potential overlap with the Walter Award (my service on the Walter Award committee means that my opinions on these books are confidential), but I am looking forward to returning to my usual endless chatter about teen fiction in 2016.  Stay tuned! ;)

Thoughts on Awards Eve

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! :)