Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Academy Awards for Book Nerds

I love the American Library Association Awards. They don't air on Sunday nights. There's no pre-show, no red carpet fashion at the Kodak Theater, and no hungry paparazzi. I appreciate the other kind of award shows too, don't get me wrong, but the ALA awards are a different kind of beast. A whispering subdued beast who is completely unaware of her attire, but her horn-rimmed glasses scream "Momma's gonna knock you out!" Did I mention that I love ALAS?

The awards air stream on the ALA website on a Monday morning (pre-dawn) in mid-January (day 4 of the librarians' conference) from a random hotel conference room in anywhere USA with paneled tapestry carpet on the walls and coughing in the background. When the video first starts, someone is always frantically pouring water from the metal hotel pitcher into their tiny little glass. The whole production is delicious.

The librarians start with the lesser known awards: the Theodore Geisel, the Coretta Scott King, the Schneider and slowly make their way to the Prinz (Young Adult), the Caldecott (Picture Book) and finally the John Newbery.

I like the Newbery the best.

I thought I'd read the middle grade book of 2010 that was set to take the Newbery Gold. One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams Garcia. It has incredible voice, great setting, a historical backdrop (not necessary for a Newbery but helps make it *distinguished* which is oh so Newbery). But I was wrong. One Crazy Summer took one of the four slots for a Newbery Honor spots- a silver sticker! Instead a wildcard one the gold- Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool. It just debuted in October. I can't wait to read it!

One Crazy Summer just picked up the Scott O'Dell award for best Historical Fiction and the Coretta Scott King, so there will be plenty of stickers on Rita's cover.

Here is a summary of the Newbery winners:

2011 John Newbery Medal Award Winner:

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool Delacorte/Random House, 2010ISBN 978-0385738835
Abilene Tucker feels abandoned. Her father has put her on a train, sending her off to live with an old friend for the summer while he works a railroad job. Armed only with a few possessions and her list of universals, Abilene jumps off the train in Manifest, Kansas, aiming to learn about the boy her father once was.
Having heard stories about Manifest, Abilene is disappointed to find that it’s just a dried-up, worn-out old town. But her disappointment quickly turns to excitement when she discovers a hidden cigar box full of mementos, including some old letters that mention a spy known as the Rattler. These mysterious letters send Abilene and her new friends, Lettie and Ruthanne, on an honest-to-goodness spy hunt, even though they are warned to “Leave Well Enough Alone.”
Abilene throws all caution aside when she heads down the mysterious Path to Perdition to pay a debt to the reclusive Miss Sadie, a diviner who only tells stories from the past. It seems that Manifest’s history is full of colorful and shadowy characters—and long-held secrets. The more Abilene hears, the more determined she is to learn just what role her father played in that history. And as Manifest’s secrets are laid bare one by one, Abilene begins to weave her own story into the fabric of the town.

Honor Medal:

Dark Emporer and Other Poems of the Night by Joyce Sidman illustrated by Rick Allen Houghton Mifflin, 2010ISBN 978-0547152288
Welcome to the night, where mice stir and furry moths flutter. Where snails spiral into shells as orb spiders circle in silk. Where the roots of oak trees recover and repair from their time in the light. Where the porcupette eats delicacies—raspberry leaves!—and coos and sings.Come out to the cool, night wood, and buzz and hoot and howl—but do beware of the great horned owl—for it’s wild and it’s windy way out in the woods!

Honor Medal:

Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus Amulet/Abrams Books, 2010ISBN 978-0810989818
In 1841, a Japanese fishing vessel sinks. Its crew is forced to swim to a small, unknown island, where they are rescued by a passing American ship. Japan’s borders remain closed to all Western nations, so the crew sets off to America, learning English on the way.
Manjiro, a fourteen-year-old boy, is curious and eager to learn everything he can about this new culture. Eventually the captain adopts Manjiro and takes him to his home in New England. The boy lives for some time in New England, and then heads to San Francisco to pan for gold. After many years, he makes it back to Japan, only to be imprisoned as an outsider. With his hard-won knowledge of the West, Manjiro is in a unique position to persuade the shogun to ease open the boundaries around Japan; he may even achieve his unlikely dream of becoming a samurai.

Honor Medal:

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia Amistad/HarperCollins, 2010ISBN 978-0060760885
Eleven-year-old Delphine has it together. Even though her mother, Cecile, abandoned her and her younger sisters, Vonetta and Fern, seven years ago. Even though her father and Big Ma will send them from Brooklyn to Oakland, California, to stay with Cecile for the summer. And even though Delphine will have to take care of her sisters, as usual, and learn the truth about the missing pieces of the past.
When the girls arrive in Oakland in the summer of 1968, Cecile wants nothing to do with them. She makes them eat Chinese takeout dinners, forbids them to enter her kitchen, and never explains the strange visitors with Afros and black berets who knock on her door. Rather than spend time with them, Cecile sends Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern to a summer camp sponsored by a revolutionary group, the Black Panthers, where the girls get a radical new education.
Set during one of the most tumultuous years in recent American history, one crazy summer is the heartbreaking, funny tale of three girls in search of the mother who abandoned them—an unforgettable story told by a distinguished author of books for children and teens, Rita Williams-Garcia.

Honor Medal:

Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. HolmRandom House, 2010ISBN 978-0375836886
Inspired by family stories, two-time Newbery Honor winner and New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Holm beautifully blends family lore with America's past in this charming gem of a novel, rich in historical detail, humor, and the unique flavors of Key West.Life isn't like the movies, and eleven-year-old Turtle is no Shirley Temple. She's smart and tough and has seen enough of the world not to expect a Hollywood ending. After all, it's 1935, and jobs and money and sometimes even dreams are scarce. So when Turtle's mama gets a job housekeeping for a lady who doesn't like kids, Turtle says goodbye without a tear and heads off to Key West, Florida, to stay with relatives she's never met.Florida's like nothing Turtle has ever seen. It's hot and strange, full of wild green peeping out between houses, ragtag boy cousins, and secret treasure. Before she knows what's happened, Turtle finds herself coming out of the shell she has spent her life building, and as she does, her world opens up in the most unexpected ways.
If you would like more juice on the Caldecotts, this is the best picture book website I know!
Make sure a take a look.

I've read the Collier book and Interrupting Chicken and love them both. I haven't read Amos McGee but I know many people in the picture book world who predicted it's Caldecott win weeks ago. I was at Vroman's this morning, and asked my favorite bookseller her opinion of the Caldecott winners. She thinks the judges were all bribed and all the wrong books won. Funny how subjective it all can be!