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1. Downtown San Diego’s expansion of the Marriot Marquis; Impact on Comic-Con International and more

Left to right: Marshall Merrifield, Tuni Kyi, and Mayor Kevin FaulconerBy Nicholas Eskey As the world’s largest comic convention, one that celebrates all forms of popular culture in film, television, video games and of course print, San Diego Comic-Con is also well known also for its grand physical scale. You’d be hard pressed to find a corner of downtown that isn’t affected by it. This […]

1 Comments on Downtown San Diego’s expansion of the Marriot Marquis; Impact on Comic-Con International and more, last added: 6/29/2016
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2. Does the “Ultimate Cut” make BATMAN v SUPERMAN a better film?

batman-vs-superman-trailer-cap-9.jpgKyle Pinion takes in the new 3 hour cut of the much maligned superhero clash.

8 Comments on Does the “Ultimate Cut” make BATMAN v SUPERMAN a better film?, last added: 7/1/2016
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3. Oh, What a Time It Was: The ALA Annual 2016 Conference Floor

Sweaty, sticky, moist Orlando edition.

So here’s a new way to experience the American Library Association Conference.  We’re going to tackle it in a visual way.  Which is to say, if I took a picture of it, it’s going into this post.  Here then is a look at what caught my eye on the conference floor, where the booths are plentiful, the alcohol oddly prevalent, and the carpets super sproingy.

First up, a slew of diverse picture books I hadn’t heard of before that I encountered for the first time at ALA.  In no particular order:

TheirGreatGift

This is such a cool book.  It’s the children and possibly grandchildren of modern immigrants talking about how much they owe to their forebears.  This is the perfect book to combat immigration studies in schools that begin and end with Ellis Island.  The text is shockingly simple, but very well done.  Look for it!

Other cool looking books included:

WhoIsHappy

SamSorts

BoyBindi

15Things

Police

NotOpposites

LoveTruck

LittleArtists

LibbyPearl

ItsGreatDad

GrowRaiseCatch

FriendsInFur

EarlySunday

Cici

Next up, titles that aren’t necessarily picture books that caught my eye for different reasons.  All of these look interesting to me in some way.  Without comment:

SwanLake

MidnightWar

ForgottenBones

Now for some of the more useful items from the floor.

When you walk past the booths at ALA you may find yourself avoiding eye contact with anyone aside from a large publisher.  This act has some problematic repercussions, particularly when the person at the conference is new.  Honestly, if the rep from Vox Books hadn’t called me by name I might have missed what is clearly a super cool new innovation in audio picture books.  And please bear in mind, if I’m enthusiastic about this it’s because I liked what I heard.  I haven’t tried out this product myself yet.

Meet Vox Books.  Better yet, take a gander at it.

Vox1

Okay, so what you’re seeing here is going to be a little unclear at first.  Basically, this is a picture book, normal as can be, but with a little, thin, audio component on the left.  Do you see it?  Right there.  It really doesn’t affect the closing of the book at all and it can’t be removed.

Now if you’re library is anything like the ones I’ve worked in, you may have an area where book and CD sets hang off to the side.  And as we all know, when they’re returned, half the time the book and CD don’t even match.  One library system I worked for tried just creating little pockets for the CDs within the books, but then you couldn’t tell them from the other picture books on the shelves.  And then the CDs would get lost.

In this case you have the audio right there, with a headphone jack, the ability to skip ahead or adjust the pages, and some seriously good books.  Check ’em out:

Vox2

Really quite good.  You should hear the background music they create as well. The readers are also excellent.

They’ve even covered their bases and done nonfiction books too:

Vox3

And let me tell you, that hardcore voice reading the Earth Movers book was great to listen too.

I know what you children’s librarians out there are thinking.  You’re considering the noise these could create in the library.  You aren’t wrong.  Remember The Very Quiet Cricket?  Ever have the batteries in one of those puppies die on you?  You get a sick sounding duck quack emanating from your shelves, randomly, for days.  This could be much worse, except you can actually charge these books up.  They even ding when you’re supposed to turn the page.

So yeah.  Looked neat.  Worth exploring, anyway.

Less useful items from the floor?  You got it:

First up, it seems that Ripley’s Believe It Or Not is committing hardcore to the children’s book scene.  They have early chapter books, nonfiction, board books, you name it coming out.  And they had one of their fellas doing caricatures on the floor.  Vain critter I am, I couldn’t resist:

Betsy RipleyYup.

Then there was a station set up to help people with copyright advice.  I approved of the look of the place:

Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 11.54.41 PM

Have I any regrets from the weekend?  Well, I would have liked to have known about this beforehand.  I didn’t have any ideas of what to read, but it would have been really fun.

BannedBooks

And finally, some good old-fashioned liquid nitrogen.

I’ve seen some fun gimmicks at a conference before, but dipping carmel corn into liquid nitrogen so that when you eat it you look like a dragon spitting smoke . . . well that’s pretty original.

Screen Shot 2016-06-28 at 11.58.49 PM

What did the rest of you guys who went see?

Tomorrow – Actual panels n’ stuff!

 

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4 Comments on Oh, What a Time It Was: The ALA Annual 2016 Conference Floor, last added: 6/29/2016
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4. AMC renews PREACHER for a second season

preacher amcPreacher will return in 2017

3 Comments on AMC renews PREACHER for a second season, last added: 7/1/2016
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5. Marvel Now: Putting together the pieces of what we know

  For the last few weeks Marvel has been rolling out teaser images for Fall’s Marvel Now event/promotion/whatchamadoodle.  Today’s reveal included the above puzzle which I’m sure the internet is busily assembling right this minute. Previous piece included a bunch of images by Mike Deodate with a “shattered” motif, and it all seems to point […]

2 Comments on Marvel Now: Putting together the pieces of what we know, last added: 7/1/2016
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6. Ch-changes at Stēla: new Stēla Unlimited branding and editor Ryan Yount departs

Earlier this year we told you about Stēla, an app for phones that featured all new, mobile-native comics by some of the top creators in the business and up and comers alike, including Ron Wimberley, Evan. Dorkin and Sarah Dyer, Jen Bartel, Irone Koh, Louise SImonson, Stuart Moore, Brian Wood and many more. . Late […]

2 Comments on Ch-changes at Stēla: new Stēla Unlimited branding and editor Ryan Yount departs, last added: 6/29/2016
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7. The shocking truth about the shocking truth about Captain America, Hydra Agent revealed

201606281541.jpgLast month’s Captain America :Steve Rogers #1 caused an uproar when it purported to reveal that Cap is actually a Hydra agent and has been since his mom was recruited into the racist organization back in the WWII day. While the transience of comic book storylines and shocking character changes is so common is to […]

10 Comments on The shocking truth about the shocking truth about Captain America, Hydra Agent revealed, last added: 6/29/2016
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8. Raina Telgemeier’s ‘Ghosts’ has a 500,000 copy first printing

According to publisher promotional materials, Ghosts, the new graphic novel by Raina Telgemeier will have a 500,000 copy first printing. I believe this is the biggest first printing ever for a pure graphic novel. (not counting Wimpy Kid this time.) In other words, Raina rules! We finally have a legit home grown best selling cartoonist […]

3 Comments on Raina Telgemeier’s ‘Ghosts’ has a 500,000 copy first printing, last added: 7/1/2016
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9. E3 2016: The Year of Comic Book Video Gaming

WIN_20160616_16_16_39_ProKeep your Master Chiefs, bearded Kratos, fancy flux capacitor powered hardware. E3 2016 had one of the best line ups for those of us who love big comic book experiences in gaming. Batman, Spider-Man, Walking Dead just to name a few. Here’s the games based on comic book characters we’re most excited for from E3 2016: Spider-Man […]

2 Comments on E3 2016: The Year of Comic Book Video Gaming, last added: 6/26/2016
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10. SDCC ’16: John Barrowman to host the Eisner Awards

By Eva Rinaldi – http://www.flickr.com/photos/evarinaldiphotography/14413533001/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=33412380 In an email about Comic-Con HQ’s activities at this year’s SDCC, this little nugget was revealed: John Barrowman will be hosting the Eisner Awards. Barrowman is of course a much loved cult fan figure, currently starring on Arrow, who previously made a splash at whe Eisners […]

1 Comments on SDCC ’16: John Barrowman to host the Eisner Awards, last added: 6/30/2016
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11. INTERVIEW: Simon Hanselmann on MEGG AND MOGG IN AMSTERDAM – “I’m Love and Rockets-ing this xxxx.”

megg&mogg"This is a classy toilet book, a 'Paris Review toilet book.'"

2 Comments on INTERVIEW: Simon Hanselmann on MEGG AND MOGG IN AMSTERDAM – “I’m Love and Rockets-ing this xxxx.”, last added: 6/27/2016
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12. Game of Thrones started being a fantasy the minute the women started taking over

“The Winds of Winter,” the finale to the sixth season of HBO’s Game of Thrones was one of the most thrilling episodes of television ever. It was triumphant, revelatory, sad, powerful – all the feels. Ramin Djawadi’s score was extraordinary, and brought a tear to my eye. And after six years we started to see […]

4 Comments on Game of Thrones started being a fantasy the minute the women started taking over, last added: 7/1/2016
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13. 25 Books From 25 Years: Confetti: Poems For Children

Lee_Low_25th_Anniversary_Poster_2_LEE & LOW BOOKS celebrates its 25th anniversary this year! To recognize how far the company has come, we are featuring one title a week to see how it is being used in classrooms today and hear from the authors and illustrators.

Today, we’re celebrating one of our favorite poetry titles: Confetti: Poems for Children. This book celebrates the vivid Southwestern landscape of the United States through poems about the natural world. Featuring words from award-winning author Pat Mora and fine artist Enrique O. Sanchez, Confetti is an anthem to the power of a child’s imagination and pride.

confettiFeatured title: Confetti: Poems for Children

Author: Pat Mora

Illustrator:Enrique O. Sanchez

Synopsis: In this joyful and spirited collection, award-winning poet Pat Mora and fine artist Enrique O. Sanchez celebrate the vivid landscape of the Southwest and the delightful rapport that children share with the natural world.

Awards and honors:

  • Children’s Books Mean Business, Children’s Book Council (CBC)
  • Choices, Cooperative Children’s Book Center (CCBC)

Other Editions: Did you know that Confetti: Poems for Children also comes in a Spanish edition?

Confeti: Poemas para niños

 

 

 

 

 

Confeti: Poemas para niños

Purchase a copy of Confetti: Poems for Children here.

Resources for teaching with Confetti: Poems for Children:

Other Recommended Picture Books for Teaching About Poetry:

water rolls water rises

 

 

 

 

 

Water Rolls, Water Rises/El agua rueda, el agua subeby Pat Mora, illus. by Meilo So

Lend a Hand

Lend a Hand: Poems About Giving by John Frank, illus. by London Ladd

the palm of my heart

 

 

 

 

 

The Palm of My Heart: Poetry by African American Children, by Davida Adedjoua, illus. by R. Gregory Christie

in daddy's arms i am tall

 

 

 

 

In Daddy’s Arms I Am Tall: African Americans Celebrating Fathers, by various poets, illus. by Javaka Steptoe

Have you used Confetti: Poems for Children? Let us know!

Celebrate with us! Check out our 25 Years Anniversary Collection.

1 Comments on 25 Books From 25 Years: Confetti: Poems For Children, last added: 6/30/2016
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14. Marvel reveals “Divided we Stand” promo with Boomers/Gen x vs MIllenniels

Last night we showed you Marvel’s new “puzzle style” promo for their Fall event. Given the powers of crowd sourcing on the internet, we figured it’d be put together long before we went to sleep, but, shockingly, when we turned in at 3:30 am, Reddit was still chugging along. That’s more than 12 hours to […]

4 Comments on Marvel reveals “Divided we Stand” promo with Boomers/Gen x vs MIllenniels, last added: 7/1/2016
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15. Marvel Now releases a new “shattered” poster

So Marvel Now, last seen give years ago, is coming back, because, as Morrisey reminds us, it’s always now. I’ll have to do a round-up of what we’ve seen so far but it’s all pretty cryptic. A primer arrives on July 13th with all the bean spilling. This promo features the original bro Thor on […]

1 Comments on Marvel Now releases a new “shattered” poster, last added: 6/27/2016
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16. MIDNIGHTER & APOLLO coming from DC this Fall

Midnighter and ApolloA much-loved title from the DC You era will return in October

4 Comments on MIDNIGHTER & APOLLO coming from DC this Fall, last added: 7/1/2016
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17. Exclusive: More on Cerebus in Hell? and The Beat’s very own personalized Cerebus comic strip

Last week we told you about Cerebus in Hell #0, a new “fumetti” style comic strip by Dave Sim and Sandeep Atwal that uses Gustave Dore’s art and Sim’s captions to reveal the earthpig’s descent into the afterlife in a darkly humorous fashion. There will be a one shot, available in October, daily Cerebus in […]

4 Comments on Exclusive: More on Cerebus in Hell? and The Beat’s very own personalized Cerebus comic strip, last added: 6/28/2016
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18. Kibbles ‘n’ Bits 7/1/16: The Phial of Galadriel vs Dumpster Fires

§ Nice statue: I’m not a big fan of The Darkness, but this statue by XM Studios is pretty cool. Via FB. § Yesterday we introduced our new, fresh burning dumpster scale for kerfuffles, but on reflection we decided that a counterbalance for justice and mercy was needed, and we were inspired by the thoughts […]

1 Comments on Kibbles ‘n’ Bits 7/1/16: The Phial of Galadriel vs Dumpster Fires, last added: 7/1/2016
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19. New JUSTICE LEAGUE concept art released by WB

justice-league-concept-art-1The studios unveils new concept art featured on the digital release of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

1 Comments on New JUSTICE LEAGUE concept art released by WB, last added: 6/28/2016
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20. HUGE NEWS: New BISAC codes for kids and YA graphic novels

If I told you a secret cabal of the comics industry's most important players had been working behind the scenes for years to implement an important change for how comics are sold, your ears would perk up, right? But if I told you this change was to get expanded BISAC codes for kids and YA graphic novels they'd probably perk right down again, right?

1 Comments on HUGE NEWS: New BISAC codes for kids and YA graphic novels, last added: 7/1/2016
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21. Help Wanted: IDW is hiring an editor

IDW is hiring a full editor to work in their groovy San Diego office. Previous experience required and no telecommuting. Here’s the job listing: Editor, IDW Publishing IDW Publishing is seeking an experienced Editor to support the Chief Creative Officer. This is a full-time position located in our San Diego, CA offices. Essential job responsibilities […]

2 Comments on Help Wanted: IDW is hiring an editor, last added: 6/29/2016
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22. Kibbles ‘n’ Bits 6/30/16: Arguing on the internet made me lose my pants

§ Nice art: Chip Zdarsky and Ramon Perez, good Canadian citizens, have created a variant cover for Civil War II: Choosing Sides #5 starring dreamboat Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau in a fetching pose. Zdarsky and Trudeau are evidently very close friends. “I didn’t want to do a stuffy cover — just like a suit and […]

3 Comments on Kibbles ‘n’ Bits 6/30/16: Arguing on the internet made me lose my pants, last added: 7/1/2016
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23. Report: Rankled Ike call Iger before he’s even had his coffee

In a wide ranging interview with THR to reflect his being named the most powerful person in Hollywood, Disney’s CEO Bob Iger was asked about his relationship with Marvel’s Ike Perlmutter: and the state of the relationship is good, we’re told. How’s your relationship with Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter these days? My relationship with Ike […]

3 Comments on Report: Rankled Ike call Iger before he’s even had his coffee, last added: 6/26/2016
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24. Today The Beat is 12!

We celebrate the Beat’s anniversary on July 1st every year, and guess what? We’re 12! I don’t have too much to say this year, because I’ve been saying it all for a while. These are tough days for tough people but we made it this far and had a blast doing it. But the Beat […]

9 Comments on Today The Beat is 12!, last added: 7/1/2016
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25. Reflections on a Banquet: Newbery/Caldecott/Wilder 2016

While I acknowledge that the logical way to write about the ALA Annual 2016 Conference in Orlando would be to do it chronologically, on the cusp of the banquet and all that it entailed, it makes more sense to me to write that part up first and then circle back to the conference in the coming week.  Your patience with my erratic nature is appreciated.

It had been some time. Maybe just little more than a year but too long in any case. The last time I had attended a Newbery/Caldecott Banquet I had worn a tuxedo, a hat wearing a hat, tiger gloves, and had tucked a small stuffed carrot in my breast pocket. That was the year that This Is Not My Hat [hat wearing hat], One Cool Friend [tuxedo], Creepy Carrots [carrot in breast pocket], and Sleep Like a Tiger [tiger gloves] had won the Caldecott. For whatever reason, as the years have gone by, I’ve had a penchant for kooky Banquet costumes. 2016 would be no different.

It’s difficult to come up with original costuming ideas, though. For my part, it all started simply, inspired in part by incoming ALSC president Nina Lindsay’s fabulous concoctions (one year she was Martha from the George & Martha books, wearing a gray shirt, a colorful skirt, and a single red flower behind her ear) and partly by the NYPL librarians of yore who would wear thematic hats to honor the Caldecott winners. I still remember stumbling on one of their Office Buckle & Gloria police hats with furry ears in a box at work. So you see, there is a precedent.

Having already covered temporary tattoos of book covers, temporary quotes from books, Shrinky-Dink jewelry of the winners’ covers, and the aforementioned tuxedo combination, I had only the grain of an idea at hand. What if I made a dress out of old card catalog cards? It was an odd idea. Just cards? A skirt alone or a full dress? How do you go about sewing paper together? I toyed with the notion, purchasing some children’s book catalog cards off of Ebay. Then providence entered into the equation some months later when I passed a recycling bin at work and found inside a slew of fantastic children’s literature catalog cards, slated for destruction. And not just any cards either. Newbery and Caldecott winners in abundance! Snowflake Bentley. Trina Schart Hyman’s Snow White. Always Room for One More. So You Want to Be President? And then, the crème de la crème: A Visit to William Blake’s Inn. Which is to say, one of the most highly discussed past winners of the season, due to debate as to whether or not IT was the first picture book to win a Newbery or was, instead, a poetry book.

This discovery clinched the deal, as it were, so I went to my closet to figure out what already existing dress might serve to display the wares. I found an old ModCloth number with a floaty filmy veil of black transparent fabric over the stretchy dress beneath. Perfect! My hope was that the overlying fabric might obscure the cards somewhat from a distance. I like a little flash but this isn’t Library Comic Con or anything. Decorum must be maintained. Card catalog cards already come with pre-made holes, so it was just a question of sewing them on. This left the question of what to do with my hair. I had a brief notion of fanning seven or eight cards into a perfect circle, hot gluing them to a large barrette. This plan was abandoned pretty quickly when I saw just how large eight cards are when fanned together. However, if you cut a single card apart and then glue IT to smaller barrettes, you get very much the same effect. Add in an old pin featuring E. Shepard’s Winnie-the-Pooh characters which I was given years ago for working with the original Pooh toys at NYPL and voila! Your outfit is complete:

Banquet2016

Note that the gorgeous Yuyi Morales behind me needs no gimmick to look beautiful.

God help my soul, what I do next year is unclear.  I worry I might get a little crazy. Shave the names of the winners into my hair or something. Hmm….

Because I’m not a complete fool, I changed in to this dress in a restroom that was near to the reception for the event.  I was also invited in for a little pre-dinner mix n’ mash n’ nosh in a room secured by Little, Brown & Co. After this we proceeded to the dinner where I found myself not far from the high table of winners, seated beside Nina Lindsay (the aforementioned incoming ALSC president), Jonda McNair (three-year term as chair of the Coretta Scott King Book Awards Committee), some Caldecott committee members, Horn Book’s Editor-in-Chief Roger Sutton, and John Schumacher. Immediately to my left was Lindsay Mattick, the author of this year’s Caldecott Award winning book. She had the somewhat eerie experience of knowing that every single place, at every single table, was set with a program featuring Sophie’s illustrations of Lindsay and her son Cole. At some point I yelled across the table to Roger a question about whether or not a Caldecott Award winner (or Honor book, for that matter) has ever featured an illustration of the author within the story itself. Roger didn’t know, but upon further reflection I could think of one case where a Newbery Award winner did. Show Way by Jacqueline Woodson, in case you’re curious. It’s times like these I particularly miss Peter Sieruta. He would have known in a heartbeat.

Lindsay, as it turns out, was a charming dinner companion and after I subjected her to a lengthy story of the sordid history of the Winnie-the-Pooh toys (something I should turn into a blog post one of these days) she told me about her own history of writing the book. As it turns out, this is a very rare case of an author of a picture book being allowed to help select her own illustrator. It was Lindsay’s idea to reach out to Sophie in the first place. That Sophie accepted is due in large part to a series of remarkable coincidences. It appears this book was meant to be.

If you’ve never been to a Newbery/Caldecott/Wilder Banquet I should explain that there are a couple givens. First off, the food is awful. This is not a slight against the organizers in any way. You walk in expecting the food to be bad and, when some aspect of it is particularly nice, you are pleasantly surprised. To sit at a table you have to buy a ticket, but that’s only if you want to eat. In the back of the room is a series of chairs. You are more than free to eat your own dinner beforehand and then sit in the chairs to listen to the speeches. Many do, as it turns out.

Between each course of the meal you may stare up adoringly at the winners and the Chairs of their committees at a high table. It’s sort of like a triple wedding, only the brides and grooms are required to give speeches that will set the world on fire. No pressure or anything, though. No pressure. So you eat, and between courses you amble over to tables where your friends are. Then you mosey back for more food. Amble. Food. I don’t know how long this particular format has been in existence. It’s nice not to masticate during the speeches, which are only given after everyone has had ample time to devour their desserts. Knowing the friendly nature of the children’s literary world, the organizers probably learned years ago that you may as well just allow folks to mix and mingle at length early on.

When at last the speeches did begin they were kicked off by outgoing President, and all around superhuman/fellow Chicago-area resident, Andrew Medlar. In the event of my death I would like to request that Andrew conduct my funeral services. He seems capable of moderating in every situation with apparent ease and wit.

Now the order of the speeches is Caldecott chair, Caldecott winner, Wilder chair, Wilder winner, Newbery chair, Newbery winner. You get a recording of each speech, since they do formally record them beforehand. In the past this has taken the form of CDs, but this year there was a code to access it online. We were also informed that past speeches are going to be digitized for easy access in the future. One wonders how many will be available! I have visions of librarians trading bootleg tapes of early impossible-to-find speeches like Madeline L’Engle’s or Ezra Jack Keats or, the rarest gem of all, Stephen Gammell’s.

Rachel Payne (an old BPL buddy) was the Caldecott Chair who introduced Sophie Blackall. Now I’ve seen Sophie speak in public before. The stereotype of the artist who fears public speaking, while not without truth in some areas, has been eclipsed over the past years by remarkably loquacious illustrators. Just look at the recent winners: Floca, Klassen, Santat.  The list goes on and on, and they’re all remarkably capable of pitch perfect eloquence. Sophie was no exception. Early on she began to get choked up, and was swift to shut herself down with a hasty, “Right. More jokes now.” She thanked her shockingly attractive children, her partner, her studio mates, Lindsay Mattick, her editor, her agent, and many more folks. I particularly admired that she kept her thanks as selective as she did. A good speech doesn’t need to thank everyone and the moon. A simple “you know who you are” is sufficient to thanking the masses anyway. And yes, I did get choked up myself a little. Sophie had a hard year (in addition to the mess-which-shall-not-be-named, a close friend passed away).  You may read the speech in its entirety here.

Next up was the Wilder Award, a biennial award that for the first time has turned annual. This year it went to Jerry Pinkney, who held the distinction of being the first and only person to win a Virginia K. Hamilton Award and a Wilder Award in the same year. He may also be the first great-grandfather to win both awards, since that is precisely what he is (though you wouldn’t know it to hear or look at him). He was introduced by Chrystal Carr Jeter who wore a magnificent hat. Undeniably the best hat in the room, no question at all. After lauding the man properly, Mr. Pinkney stood up and began to tell the story of his life. Some of it I had heard once long ago when he gave a speech after being honored by the Carle Awards. Some was new. And some hit a chord for a very particular reason.

An odd digression that has a point: Each week the shelvers in my library put together a cart of damaged materials and wheel it up to my desk. There I determine whether or not to reorder, discard, and/or repair the books. One day someone included a MAD Magazine collection that mocked syndicated cartoonists (bear with me – there’s a point to all this). It always kind of depresses me when MAD Magazine collections appear because they’re often beyond repair and yet they’re also out-of-print. As I flipped through the piece (which fortunately was salvageable) I saw the usual jokes made at the expense of Dick Tracy, Dagwood, L’il Abner, etc. Then I saw one making fun of the comic strip Henry. Do you know the strip? It was a funny piece about a kid with a big round head and his small suburban adventures. The style was distinctive, sort of what you’d get if you added Peanuts to Chris Ware with a hint of Crockett Johnson thrown into the mix. The joke in the MAD Magazine bit was the Henry never grows up and has, from the start, actually been a strip about a middle aged man. Why am I telling you all of this? Well, I’d heard in Pinkney’s Carle speech lo these many years ago that as a child he befriended a syndicated comic strip artist. As Jerry tells it, he was working at a newspaper stand and, when business was slow, his boss let him sketch for fun. One day a man asked to see his art and when he saw what Jerry could do he confessed that he was an artist himself. The boy and the man became friends and the man turned out to be John Liney the LINEY HENRYsecond creator of the comic strip Henry. In the vast world of syndicated comics, I do believe that Henry has been forgotten to a certain extent. Yet Mr. Liney has gone on to be remembered by Jerry, and by extension we have many wonderful books. So, in a strange sense, Liney’s legacy lives on in his kindness to others.

Jerry talked much more than just about Mr. Liney of course. He spoke at length, and with feeling, about the limited options for African-American men when he was growing up, making it clear that there is still a long road ahead. He talked about his mentors, both the good and the bad. The ones who believed he could go far, and the ones who didn’t. He spoke of African-American art instructors who had shelved their own dreams in a time when the future seemed impossible. His was a speech that took note of the changes in the African-American landscape over a vast number of decades, using his own career to highlight the changes. It was superb, as you might imagine.  You can read it in full here.

By the way, has Mr. Pinkney ever been recorded in conversation with Ashley Bryan? Wouldn’t that be the most interesting of discussions? Just putting that out there.

After Jerry it was time for Matt de la Peña. Ernie Cox, the chair of the Newbery committee, introduced him. Not much was made of a picture book’s win of a Newbery Award and how extraordinary and unprecedented (unless you believe A Visit to William Blake’s Inn was a picture book) it was. I was curious to hear Matt speak, of course. I’ve seen him do it twice, once about Last Stop on Market Street at a librarian preview in NYC, and once to a group of librarians about his career, but only in brief. This speech was different in tone, and depth, and content, and feeling. You might not know it was the same guy.

Matt came up, took his award, and then said apologetically that this was lovely but he needed to give the award to his mom. He then proceeded to run down to the audience level, handing his mother the large heavy medal in its velvet lined case to his mom. Then he leapt back to the podium to speak in earnest. Matt talked about his youth, growing up Mexican-American and not much of a reader. He credited the teachers and librarians that fed his reading, even if it was sports magazines during a time when he was supposed to be reading books (his description of how he’d claim to be enjoying War and Peace with all that war and then all that peace is great). He spoke of how he became an author, though not at any particular length. Instead he talked about getting “the call” and how confusing it was for him. As he tells it, he wasn’t expecting to win anything, but he knew that Christian might win a Caldecott proper and that if he did their agent (they share an agent) would ring him up. So he turned on his ringer and a couple hours later a call came in. Only it wasn’t the call he was expecting exactly. Ernie Cox explained to Matt that he’d won a Newbery Award. What picture book author would ever expect such a thing? After Matt hung up he describes it this way:

As soon as we hung up, I called my wife. “Caroline,” I said, in an even voice, “I have something I need to tell you.” I paused for a long time, trying to keep myself in check. Like I have all my life.

“What?” she said. “Is everything okay?”

“I think Last Stop just won the Newbery.”

She paused. “Wait, are you sure?”

“No,” I answered.

She fired up her iPad and went onto the ALA website and looked up the 2016 award committees and asked me, “Okay, was it a man or woman on the phone?”

“A man.”

“Holy shit,” she said. “The chair of the Caldecott is a woman.”

And he could have stopped right there. Could have closed the speech with the usual congrats and approbation and thanks, but to my surprise he kept going. Discussions of “the call” often end acceptance speeches. Matt had more to say. More to say about the kids who read his books who might think that they are worthless and who can find value in themselves by reading. Amongst his stories he told one about visiting a school and giving a copy of his book to a boy who was sitting just a little to the side. And when the boy confronted him later, asking why Matt would have given the book to him, of all people, Matt just told him that he didn’t know why. There just seemed to be something special about the kid. The boy started to cry at this, and his classmates rubbed his back and comforted him, telling Matt that the boy was new to their school. Matt said that’s how he felt like when he got the call about the Newbery. That this group of people thought that there was something special about him. And that the librarians and friends and other members of the children’s literature community out there were the ones rubbing his back and propping him up and telling him it was okay. And let me tell you something, ladies and gentlemen. There was not a dry eye in the house when he said this. You can read the speech in full here.

After that it was receiving line time. The winners all trooped outside while we watched a little of the most recent Weston Woods Award winner . . . I’m sorry. The Carnegie Award winner, That Is Not a Good Idea. Sadly they only showed a little. I would have liked to have watched the whole thing again. Mo Willems, as the fox, does a delicious cackle.

But there were lots of fine and fancy people to talk to, so I lingered and spoke with various folks. And when it was very late, and I was very tired, I was still able to have a tasty root beer float with friends before drifting off to beddy-bye. It was a nice banquet this year. One of the best, really.

A thank you to Little, Brown for my nice ticket and meal.

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