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By: Darcy Pattison
Blog: Darcy Pattison's Revision Notes
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QUIZ: ARE YOU READY TO WRITE A CHILDREN'S PICTURE BOOK?
- How many pages are in a typical children’s picture book?
- Who is the audience of a children’s picture book? Hint: It's not just kids.
- Are there restrictions on the vocabulary you use in a picture book?
- Do I have to write in rhyme? Do manuscripts written in rhyme sell better?
- Do EPUB books have to the same length as printed books?
Don't start writing that picture book until you know these crucial concepts. GET THE ANSWERS HERE
The Newbery, Caldecott, Printz, Siebert and other awards for the best books of children’s/teen literature were announced recently. And every year the question of gender bias is raised. Overwhelmingly, the industry is dominated by female authors/illustrators, yet the awards go to male authors/illustrators.
This year the Caldecott went to 75% male illustrators, with the winner a male.
The Siebert is 20% male, with the winner a female.
The Newbery is 40% male, with the winner a female.
The Siebert is 20% male, with the winner a male.
Except for the Caldecott, it seems the awards are spread out.
Considering the possibility of gender bias–which is generally skewed toward male authors/illustrators, it’s interesting to read this article by Lilit Marcus, who spent 2013 only reading female authors. She was accused of being sexist, reverse sexist, and misandrist. “One Flavorwire commenter dismissed the significance of focusing on female authors and announced that he would only be reading books by authors who were tall.”
And yet, many readers are now contacting Lilit and asking for recommendations for women authors.
I wonder what it would look like to only read women’s fiction and nonfiction for a year. What picture books would emerge as winners? What middle grade novels would you champion? What YA novels would rise to the top? What if you spent the next year only reading men’s fiction and nonfiction? What would you learn from each year’s experiences?
Do you feel that the world of children and teen publishing carries gender biases? Where do you see it most?
Winner of the 2014 Newbery Medal for Distinguished Contribution to Children’s Literature.
In preparation for my year on the Caldecott Committee, I am immersing myself in picture books. One thing I really wanted to do this year was hold a Mock Caldecott with youth. I just needed a willing teacher and a classroom to play with. I happen to know the English teacher at the local high school, and one of the curriculum outcomes is “able to respond with critical awareness to various forms of the arts and be able to express themselves through the arts.” Perfect fit. All grade nines have English with this teacher, back-to-back classes, so I go over for a couple of hours. I’ll be going once a month through January, when we will do our Mock Caldecott before I head off to Philadelphia to see which book this year’s Caldecott Committee chooses.
My first class was an introduction to the award, which some knew about, but most did not. They had heard of Newbery, but not Caldecott. (Remember, I am in Canada. Not every teacher stresses the importance of these books.) So we talked about the award a bit, then I shared some information about style and media from my go-to website, Picturing Books. If you are not familiar with this website, block out some off-desk time and get yourself over there ASAP. After we looked at the slides about media and style, I gave them a homework assignment. I left 33 books in the classroom, Caldecott winners and honors from a wide range of years. I created a chart for them to fill out for at least 5 of the books: Is the medium appropriate? Is the style appropriate? Do the pictures enhance the story? Page turns- what do you notice? Overall design? Line: what do you notice? Since I can’t make it to their class in October, they have over a month to delve into these books, and the teacher is allowing them to read these books during Silent Reading Time in class (that got some whoops from the boys in the class). They will even be graded on their picture book charts.
When I go back in November, I’ll do a Visual Literacy exercise with them—we’ll look closely at a painting or two, and really start discussing art (picked up a few tips in Chicago on how to do this!). I will also take a stack of 2014 Caldecott “possibles” and we will take some time to really look closely at them we will do the same in December, and then in January, we’ll hold a Mock Caldecott.
I’m pretty excited about this little experiment, and I think the class is, too. When I got back to my office, I had an email from the teacher saying they were digging in to the box of books I left there, and that some of them had already started filling in the charts. Most of these students are 13 and 14 years old, so they ARE still officially within the Caldecott age range. How fun that I get to hear what they think about and see in the books!
This week over on Turbo Monkey Tales I'm talking about my visit to Bologna in March.
Follow this LINK
to read all about it.
Pearl is coming soon! Next time, what I got up to at ALA Chicago, 2013.
First of all, I'd like to apologize for pushing the "publish" button instead of the "save" button when I was composing this post yesterday. As a result, my weird and clearly unfinished post went out to our subscribers above Carmela's wonderful Wednesday Writing Workout (which I highly recommend reading.) Oy!
Onward...to Poetry Friday!
My poem is below. :-)
the American Library Association
is celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Caldecott Award at its annual conference!
Right now--right this very minute!
Here's one fascinating fact from the ALA's beautifully put together scrapbook
of all things Caldecott:
Until 1958, an artist could not be awarded more
than one Caldecott Medal unless the committee's vote was unanimous. In
his letter responding to the news, Robert McCloskey expresses his
surprise at winning the award a second time.
Except for his first
picture book and his last one, Robert McCloskey won either a Caldecott
Medal or a Caldecott Honor for every picture book he published.
Here's a 1:03 minute video of last year's Caldecott honor winner, John Rocco, talking about The Phone Call...the moment he learned he'd won the Caldecott honor for his book, Blackout:
and here's a funny-weird 1:49 minute video about getting ready for
this year's Newbery/Caldecott banquet...
And, yes, it's Poetry Friday! My poem was inspired by Carmela's Wednesday Writing Workout
, in which author Melanie Crowder
suggests that sounds can spark writing ideas.
But where to start--what sound? How about applause--applause for all Caldecott winners (and those hard-working Caldecott committee members)? There are so many different kinds of applause, including this
--which is the applause before
a concert begins. That's the sound that stuck with me. Here's my rough draft:
INSPIRED BY THE SOUND OF EXPECTANT APPLAUSE
by April Halprin Wayland
star in the wings.
In your seat:
Rise in your seat,
stomp on the floor,
awaken your core!
And even before his wild art starts,
poem © 2013 April Halprin Wayland. All rights reserved
TeachingAuthors will be taking a vacation from July 1-July 12, 2013. Ta-ta! Bye-bye! Take time to write! See you soon, Raccoons!
By April Halprin Wayland, who thanks you from the bottom of her little heart for reading all the way to the end.
With ALA slamming up at breakneck speed, I feel the need to make sure I connect to each and every one of you who come to Chicago. Logistics tell me I'm nuts. But then again, it's worth the try.
Although there are some great social events in the offing, I think another youth services blogger and readers of blogs and twitter -peeps gathering would be fun to do especially if you're thinking of being at the Newbery/Caldecott awards banquet
on Sunday June 30 at the Sheraton or the speeches after! It struck me that lots of us would be hanging around this premier youth services celebration, so...
....if you plan attend the banquet or just drop by the speeches after the dinner (there are chairs set up and you can listen to the speeches free and gaze upon the glitterati in the audience!), we can do a meet-up!
Traditionally, at the conclusion of the banquet, a receiving line with the honorees takes place right after the speeches outside the hall. There is always a cash bar. It's a great spot to gather and chat late night (caffeinate early to be up late!).
So consider this for your schedule and say hi!
Post N/C Youth Blogger/Blog Reader/Tweep Meet-up Sunday June 30Sheraton Chicago
banquet area10:30-11pm-ish start
(or whenever N/C speeches end)
2013 GradeReading.NET Summer Reading Lists
Keep your students reading all summer! The lists for 2nd, 3rd and 4th, include 10 recommended fiction titles and 10 recommended nonfiction titles. Printed double-sided, these one-page flyers are perfect to hand out to students, teachers, or parents. Great for PTA meetings, have on hand in the library, or to send home with students for the summer. FREE Pdf or infographic jpeg.
See the Summer Lists Now!
What are kids–your audience–reading today?
“The Accelerated Reader Real Time database includes book-reading records for more than 8.6 million students from 27,240 schools nationwide who read more than 283 million books during the 2011-2012 school year.”
Renaissance Learning, the folks who do the Accelerated Reader program and testing, has just issued the 2013 report, “What Kids are Reading: The Book-Reading Habits of Students in American Schools.” It uses the data collected from millions of AR-reading tests to report on what kids have actually read this past year. Of course, the caveat is that these are also books they tested on, and therefore may not give the clearest picture of leisure reading. An AR-test must exist and a school must have it available for a student to test on the book; students often read books that they don’t test on.
Classics. Overwhelmingly, classics rule (think Dr. Seuss), followed by high-profile books, such as Diary of a Wimpy Kid. One interesting dataset lists the Caldecott and Newberry winners and shows their ranking among 1-5 graders. The Caldecott winners languish, with only three titles breaking into the top 100: Officer Buckle and Gloria at #17; Where the Wild Things Are at #20; The Polar Express at #50; and, The Snowy Day at #62.
For the Newbery Award winners, nothing before 1960 made it into the top 100 list for 6th-8th graders. However, they fared better, with twelve Newbery titles on the list: The Giver at #11; Number the Stars at #14; Holes at #17; Maniac Magee at #41; Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry at #40; Bud, Not Buddy at #43; Bridge to Terabithia at #47; Island of Blue Dolphins at #63; The Westing Game at #65; Walk Two Moons at #72; Out of the Dust at #95; and, A Wrinkle in Time at #96.
Overall, books that receive national exposure by being made into a movie were hits: The Lorax by Dr. Seuss, rising from #210th most popular to #28 this year for third graders; The Help by Kathryn Stockett, from #1273 last year to #24 among high schoolers; and, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, which had done well in high school and middle school in previous years, but this year jumped from #1478 to #24 in fourth grade and from #92 to #4 in fifth grade.
Text complexity in early 20th century for required reading in high school was about 9.0 ATOS, but has dropped to about 6.0 ATOS.
CCSS Exemplar texts were popular. The report states “. . .examining the popularity of the CCSS exemplars revealed that, although not intended to be used as a curriculum, almost all of the Informational Texts and Stories Exemplars were read by a slightly greater proportion of students in 2011-12 than the prior school year, suggesting the new standards may be influencing both curricular choices and less formal recommendations.”
These are fascinating pieces of data. The information is broken into favorites by grade and gender. You can also download these reports:
Here’s an infographic from RenLearing.
Click to see full size. R-Click to save.
It would also be an interesting project to cross-reference this material with Scholastic’s 2013 Kids and Family Reading Report, which analyzes data from a survey of families about what kids are reading.
How Does the Top 100 List Affect Your Writing?
Backlist is your real competition. First, realize that your real competition for kids’ attention isn’t today’s books, but the backlist. In schools, it takes time for teachers to fall in love with your book, develop lesson plans and incorporate it into the culture. If you can write a book that passes that gauntlet, you’re likely to have real staying power. Winning a major award might help, but the majority of award winners, have fallen off the charts.
Humor rules. Really. If you read over the list of top 100 books for the younger grades, it’s humor all the way. From Dr. Seuss to Laura Numeroff, kids like funny books. Jeff Kinney and Dav Pilkey combined capture ten of the top 20 for fourth grade. You may not win the Newbery for a funny book, but you might find your place in the classroom.
Trade Books rule. And lest you think that means you should look to educational publishers, look again. Most of these titles are from trade publishers.
Teen Books. Write on a teen level. In 8th grade, The Outsiders still ranks #3. Maybe that’s because it gets assigned by teachers, but it’s still popular with kids.
Nonfiction Popular Books
Also available is the Top 100 list of nonfiction titles. Accelerated Reader’s strength isn’t nonfiction, but it’s still interesting to see what titles turned up.
Grades 1-3. Nature/animal books, biographies and titles related to English Language Arts (such as #12, Hairy, Scary, Ordinary: What is an Adjective? by Brian P. Cleary) were most popular. For example, Penguin Chick was #1, The Tiny Seed by Eric Carle was #2, How Much is a Million? by David M. Schwartz was #3, and Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr by Doreen Rappaport was #4.
Grades 4-5. Biography and history edges out nature/animal books. For example, Finding the Titanic by Robert D. Ballard is #4, and Nights of the Pufflingsby Bruce McMillan is #9.
Grades 6-9. Biographies (including tales of faith)and history compete well at this level. Nature/animals lose traction, except for a few true tales or a few books on predators. Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back by Todd Burpo is at #2 and Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family and Fighting to Get back on the Board by Bethany Hamilton is #3. Seymour Simon’s book, Sharks is #18.
Grades 9-12. History dominates the top 100 list here. It’s true that Snakes by Kelly L. Barth is #2, but it’s the only nature/animal book listed until Snake by Chris Mattison at #86. At #3 is An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 by Jim Murphy, followed by the #4 title, 10,000 Days of Thunder: A History of the Vietnam War, by Phillip Caputo.
This is Not My Hat
by Jon Klassen
Reading level: 3 and up
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Candlewick Press (October 9, 2012)
I first encountered this book while doing some browsing at shop at The Eric Carle Picture Book Museum this past fall, and was instantly charmed by the ingenuity of its design and storytelling smartness. Though Jon Klassen's preceding book, I Want My Hat Back, is also funny/smart in a strikingly similar fashion, This is Not My Hat far outshines its predecessor in design, concept, and attitude. It's Jon Klassen 2.0. Here's why:
In I Want My Hat Back, the hat thief is a mystery for most of the story and the hat-hunting Bear the innocent victim. But This is Not My Hat is told from the point of view of the hat thief himself---a little fish with a BIG attitude. Self-assured and cocky, Little Fish justifies his immoral swiping of Big Fish's hat for the logical reason that it's far too small for the big fish anyway. He's certain that he's committed the perfect crime and will never be found out...
Each sentence (few as there are) does exactly what it needs to do in pushing the story along. But where the simplistic and restrained writing truly soars is that he is able to give Little Fish such a snarky voice in so few words. The beauty of the writing is that Klassen says what should be said, and shows what should be shown. It results in one of the best rhythmically syncopated picture books to emerge in recent memory. It's picture book mastery at its best.
Stylistically the images are a bit dark for my personal taste--I'm not a huge fan of the muted color palette or flat back background. The flat black basically says "death" from page one and I just don't know if this was the only solution that could have worked. However I do love the texture and traditional collage-like feel achieved with digital media. Regardless of how I feel about this look, I give Klassen credit for being daring and for appropriately setting the tone of this darkly comic caper. It would not have worked as well if it were set in a typically colored ocean scene. The dark, muted colors definitely enhance the ominous atmosphere.
I love the flat matte paper Candlewick has chosen as well as the long shape of the pages. Klassen uses the page turn like a slow motion flip book where at times nothing differs from one image to the next besides the reactive eye of the big fish and an occasional gesture of secondary character. This makes it feel especially animated and demonstrates an enviable efficiency that many illustrators could learn from. It's super smart.
I reiterate that what Jon Klassen has done with the storytelling here is admirable. He's created the perfect marriage of text and image where both serve the story in the best possible combination.
Winning the Caldecott Medal proves many people acknowledge its merit as a significant contribution to children's literature. But I'm surprised by those who who jump to give it a poor review simply because its main character is an unapologetic criminal. They've missed their chance to read between the lines (kids are often better at that than adults). At its heart, this IS a morality tale. It doesn't encourage stealing, it supports the idea that doing the wrong thing just because you can is still wrong---and there will be inescapable consequences. Little Fish is not a bully, he just takes what he wants because he thinks it won't be missed. To me, it reminds me of the very same little-kid logic I myself once had--even if I ultimately never indulged myself into thieving anything... In a humorous, smart, and engaging way this book speaks to kids because it relates to the way they think. The harsh reminder about consequences of immoral actions is also a good one, for kids and adults alike.
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The news is now far and wide, but we want to officially say– yahoo! This past weekend in Seattle at the Midwinter Meeting of the American Library Association, six of our titles were honored by awards committees and we are beyond bowled over with excitement and pride. Congratulations to all– to the authors, editors, fans, and champions of these books. Every Midwinter we are so grateful to be reminded that the community we book-people live and work within is vibrant, supportive, and very, very much alive and kicking. We are all in it together.
All of our award-winning books living together in harmony.
Newbery Committee member Susannah Richards placing IVAN’s shiny sticker!
EXTRA YARN co-editor (VP and co-publisher of Balzer + Bray) Alessandra Balzer doing the honors!
Printz Committee friends giving DODGER their love.
Schneider committee and A DOG CALLED HOMELESS editor Sarah Shumway celebrating.
And Amelia Bedeila (did you celebrate AMELIA BEDELIA DAY?) wanted in on the fun, too!
Congratulations to all authors and illustrators honored with 2013 awards, and the biggest and humblest of thank you’s to the awards committees for their hard work, dedication, and the countless hours they spent this past year reading and discussing books. Now we wish we could fast-forward to June and our official ALA celebrations!
In case you missed them, the 2013 ALA Awards (Newbery, Caldecott, Printz, etc.) have been announced!
Celebrate great children’s book writing and illustration by checking out this year’s winners and honor books here: 2013 ALA Award Winners
I know that no one is breathlessly awaiting my post on the winners when the news is all over the Kidlitosphere, but for my own sake of fulfillment I'll cover the Newbery and Caldecott Awards - the "biggies" of the ALA Youth Media Awards.
The John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children's literature went to The One and Only Ivan, written by Katherine Applegate. I loved the book and thought it had a good chance at a medal. Unfortunately, I haven't read any of the three honor books Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz, Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage, or Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin. Of them, the last is first on my list to read as it was also named in other nonfiction awards. I was surprised that Wonder was not on the list, but am thinking that it may have peaked too early in the Newbery season.
The winner of the Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished picture book was This Is Not My Hat, illustrated and written by Jon Klassen. I thought it was too similar to the first book to win, but what do I know. Two of the Caldecott Honor books were also Cybils finalists, Creepy Carrots! illustrated by Peter Brown, written by Aaron Reynolds and Extra Yarn, illustrated by Jon Klassen, written by Mac Barnett. Among my personal favorites of last year was One Cool Friend, illustrated by David Small and written by Toni Buzzeo. I have never understood the buzz about Green, illustrated and written by Laura Vaccaro Seeger, but figured it would be honored. I actually don't know Sleep Like a Tiger by Mary Logue, but since I love the illustrator Pamela Zagarenski, I'm looking forward to the book. I was disappointed that Chloe and the Lion didn't appear on the list, especially with so many selections named this year. When it was announced that there would be five honor books, there was an obvious murmur from the ALA audience, and I'm glad to see a bigger list than last year.
What are your thoughts on the Newbery and Caldecott awards this year? Did they get it right?
Links to material on Amazon.com contained within this post may be affiliate links for the Amazon Associates program, for which this site may receive a referral fee.
We're feeling especially Spring-y today here in NYC, so we thought we'd share the AND THEN IT'S SPRING video with all of you!
By: Roger Sutton
Blog: Read Roger - The Horn Book editor's rants and raves
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“If this book doesn’t win the Caldecott Medal I’m going to kill myself.” I heard that from Zena Sutherland, quoting Ursula Nordstrom, while Zena and I were at Philadelphia’s Rosenbach Museum in 1982, viewing an exhibition of the complete original art for the book in question, Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are.
That book did of course win the 1964 Medal, a very nice cherry on top of Sendak’s five previous Caldecott Honors (which would be joined by two more in later years). For Sendak, the best part of Where the Wild Things Are’s success was the financial security it brought (“It bought me my house,” he told me) and the freedom to do the projects he liked: “I took good advantage of [its] popularity to illustrate books that I passionately wanted to do without having to worry if they were commercial or not.” While the publishing economy of today might have encouraged Where the Wild Things Went and Where the Wild Things Went Next, Sendak mostly left the (considerable) spinning-off to others in order to to do what he wanted in a career that would include big books and small books, color and black-and-white, books by himself and books by others, opera and ballet design. Most Caldecott Medalists can’t afford to rest on their laurels; Sendak could, and didn’t.
When I look through the roster of Caldecott winners (seventy-five as of this year), I see dozens of fine books, but only three classics: Make Way for Ducklings, The Snowy Day, and Where the Wild Things Are. And of those, only the third has made the leap from the children’s bookshelf to become, as well, a touchstone of twentieth-century American art and culture. Maurice would sometimes complain about his other work being overshadowed, but come on, I would say, that’s huge. If sometimes he knew this and sometimes he forgot, what matters most is that it didn’t make one bit of difference either way to his work.
When I was speaking at the Eric Carle Museum recently, someone asked me if I thought Where the Wild Things Are could be published today. It’s an impossible question, because that book gave artists and publishers and librarians and children a new way to read. Its belief in an audience that could compose its own music for three wordless spreads and draw its own picture on the final page was generous. Its messages—that you can imagine without restraint, yell your head off, and still be altogether worthy of love—remain.
I always appreciate it when Roger Sutton writes about Maurice Sendak. His appreciation, respect and friendship always shines through. In a recent Horn Book post
, Roger writes about what winning the Caldecott Medal for Where the Wild Things Are
meant to Maurice.
In the course of his ruminations, he mentions that in his opinion, though many Caldecotts have been awarded, only three books are ones he would truly consider "classic": Make Way for Ducklings
, The Snowy Day
and Where the Wild Things Are
. At first I was like, "Wait! What about the winner the year I served on the committee; or the year this colleague served or that colleague...?" But then I stopped and thought.
The three books mentioned are truly touchstones. When I served on the Caldecott, I used Make Way for Duckling
s to train kids and adults on how to help your eye see excellence. The warm brown lines on creamy paper were the only color, yet those illustrations were so powerful and told the story so well, the text was barely needed to convey the plot, emotions and story. This book is the quintessential Caldecott winner for me.
Re-thinking and re-reading Roger's post and going over the list of seventy-five Caldecotts draws me to the much the same conclusion as Roger. I might quibble here and there. But he has named true touchstones of children's literature. What do YOU think?
Check out this great trailer for the upcoming Bear Has a Story to Tell by Phil Stead and illustrated by Erin Stead, the team behind the A Sick Day for Amos McGee, winner of the 2011 Caldecott Medal!
Learn more about Bear Has a Story to Tell...
By: Hazel Mitchell,
Blog: Hazel Mitchell
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I got to tell you, ALA was cracking! It was my first visit to a BIG library conference and it was so much more than I expected. I expected to see a LOT of librarians, a LOT of BOOKS and SOME amazingly awesome people. What I didn't expect was to feel totally at home, surrounded by thousands of people who love books, LOVE them I tell you! If you have never attended ALA, summer or midwinter conference (and you can afford it) ... go! Just for the experience. If you're an illustrator, a writer or a reader I say GO! Get involved. Meet the librarians ... meet the publishers ... meet the famous writers and artists! (And the not so famous!) Go to panels and readings and presentations. Buy a ticket to the Newbery/Caldecott Banquet or the Coretta Scott King Awards. You won't regret it.
OK .. so my trip was fat ... got to Anaheim, CA Friday night (from Maine), back on the redeye, Sunday. My lovely roomie from last year's SCBWI summer conference (and LA resident) Charlene Ellen (MG author in waiting) collected me at the airport. (Thanks Charlene!). We stayed at the Hilton Anaheim ... excellently situated right next to the conference centre, so you could nip back and forth to the hotel during the day.
Here's our 'Disney view' room ... watched the fireworks in the evening. Here's the view:
We got upgraded after first being put in an occupied room. You know that feeling when you open the door .. and oops, there they are on the bed!! JUST KIDDING!!! But the room WAS occupied ;-)
And there's the swimming pool that the kid pooped in just after I got in. Yuk!!!! No, really, it was a great hotel. Despite the toilet blockage. (I blame Charlene).
Pretty nice to get an exhibitor's badge too! Felt like a pony at a show. (No comments from the cheap seats, thank you). I had a book signing with Kane Miller and also with Charlesbridge on Saturday .. pretty overwhelming for a first timer.
4 Comments on ALA ... just what I got up to last weekend., last added: 7/5/2012
Just as the proof of the pudding is in the eating, real appreciation of a picture book depends on more than a first taste, or a first look; truer evaluation becomes possible only after savoring every nuance. At first glance, illustrations may delight us with their beauty — their drafting, palette, forms, composition; with how they embody emotion, or childhood itself. One artist charms with humor, well-paced action, or visual harmony. Another captures the imagination with a beloved character or a story distilled to its irreducible essence.
But to seek a year’s “most distinguished” illustrations — to choose a Caldecott winner — is to look again: to tune in to rhythms, consider trajectories, discover details and connections; and to hope that such particulars will offer the kind of epiphany E. E. Cummings called “everything / which is natural which is infinite which is yes.” A detailed study of some of 2011’s best picture books, medaled and not, made me both more critical and more appreciative. It revealed limitations, missed on first reading, of some appealing titles; contrariwise, in the best ones, I now perceived finer crafting, richer meaning.
Here, then, are some books that seemed to merit serious consideration for the award, or that helped illuminate issues involved in a final choice. Several of these arrest the eye with their extraordinary simplicity. One such, I Want My Hat Back, was frequently mentioned as a Caldecott contender. In Jon Klassen’s neatly balanced compositions, a bear — still as a statue through much of the book — meets other near-immobile creatures in minimal settings. Only the animals’ alert, stylized eyes suggest the drama that will finally erupt on a revelatory solid-red page and set up the story’s sly conclusion. Klassen’s digitally created illustrations are austere. It’s those eyes that focus attention on what’s seen (and unseen) until memory triggers the bear’s retrospective vision — a clever scenario, elegantly rendered.
Patricia Intriago’s Dot, composed as it is of simple shapes and lines, is even more spare. Yet this able graphic designer telegraphs a lot with her graphic forms, using small additions and alterations in size, conformation, or color to convey motion and emotion, sound, taste, and more, including the night sky. Another virtuoso performance is Michael Hall’s exploration of the transformative possibilities of collages improvised, like tangrams, from squares. Like Dot, Hall’s Perfect Square is an exercise in graphic possibility, but Hall brings more ingenuity and a sense of story to the process. He tears, snips, or otherwise divides each square, then reassembles it in a simple scene, with a new color each weekday. On Sunday, the square — cleverly escaping its shape’s constraints — becomes a window through which the earlier scenes are recapped in a rainbow finale.
Lois Ehlert’s art, too, is rooted in graphic design. In RRRalph, she composes a dog from amusingly recognizable objects like buttons, a pop-top, and a zipper. Ralph, a character of buoyant, spread-dominating energy,enacts such pun-ready sounds as wolf, rough, and bark. Printed in handsome boldface, Ralph’s “words” and the large-type commentary by his unseen human are as intrinsic to the striking design as Ralph himself. These minimalist titles may not have the singular quality that evokes that rare sense of Cummings’s “Yes”; still, they’re entirely worthy, fine just as they are.
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Today's Picture Book Roundup features older winners of the Caldecott Medal.
The Caldecott Medal was named in honor of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.
I recently completed a class, "The Caldecott Medal: Understanding Distinguished Art in Picture Books,"
offered by the Association for Library Service to Children
(ALSC), and taught by K.T. Horning.
In addition to learning much that I didn't know about art, I had the opportunity to encounter or revisit some Caldecott Medal
winners that predate my career as a librarian. I have been working in a library since 2005, and received my masters degree and first professional librarian position in 2007. The Caldecott Medal has been awarded since 1938. Clearly, I had a lot of catching up to do.
Though I did not read them all, I did read many older winners. Here are some of my favorites from the years prior to 1990:(In order by publication date - award dates are the January following the publication year)
- Langstaff, John. 1955. Frog Went A-Courtin'. New York: Harcourt Brace. Illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky.
Richly detailed and expressive animals illustrate this favorite old folk song. (If you don't know the song, Frog Went A-Courtin',
Burl Ives' rendition was a classic) This is my favorite of all the older Caldecotts.
- Mosel, Arlene. 1972. The Funny Little Woman. New York: Dutton. Illustrated by Blair Lent.
Humorous, with inventive illustrations, the funny little woman travels to a world beneath her simple home in Japan.
- Yorinks, Arthur. 1986. Hey. Al. New York: Farrar, Strauss, and Giroux. Illustrated by Richard Egielski.
Generally disliked by most of my classmates, this quirky, surreal story about a man and his dog really grows on you.
- Yolen, Jane. 1987. Owl Moon. New York: Philomel. Illustrated by John Schoenherr.
I have been fortunate enough to hear
owls in the night many times, though the only ones I have been able to spot are the low-flying burrowing owls. In Owl Moon
, the thrill of a night-time owling expedition is captured brilliantly in both illustration and prose.
- Young, Ed. 1989. Lon Po Po:A Red-Riding Hood Story from China. New York: Philomel.
A masterpiece of danger, suspense and courage - a classic folktale. The only one of my picks written and illustrated by the same person, it's no surprise that it's a pitch-perfect pairing of text and art.A complete list of Caldecott Medal winners 1938-present, may be found here.
I've left off many other wonderful old medal winners, I know. Feel free to chime in with your favorite Caldecott winners from the 1930s-1980s.
By: Gail Maki Wilson
Blog: Through the Studio Door
(Login to Add to MyJacketFlap
100 Scope Notes
, John Rocco
, Horn Book
, Publishers Weekly
, Fuse #8
, Brian Selznick
, Add a tag
With all the Newbery and Caldecott
talk and predictions out there I thought it would be nice to take a look at not only what may be the next winner, but what has won in the past. If you have a favorite title you are rooting for post it in a comment. I would love to hear about it! Next week I will post my favorite book of the year that I think is Caldecott deserving in every facet of picture book brilliance.
From Publishers Weekly, with great interviews of winners from the past 5 years.The Call That Changes Everything- or Not.
From The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC
) a look at the past.Newbery Honor and Medal Books, 1922- PresentCaldecott Medal & Honor Books, 1938-Present2012 Newbery-Caldecott Awards Banquet
From Through the Studio door, an interesting look at what PW dubbed in 1963 "...a pointless and confusing story." Before They Were Classics
For predictions for this years award winners check out:ShelfTalkerA Fuse #8 Production100 Scope NotesThe Horn Book- Calling Caldecott Country Bookshelf Random Acts of Reading
|75th Anniversary Logo by Brian Selznick|
Mark your calendar for the Caldecott Medal 75th Anniversary!
all the awards at 8 a.m. PT
on Jan. 28 from the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle. The awards include the esteemed John Newbery Medal, Randolph Caldecott Medal, Coretta Scott King Book Awards and Michael L. Printz Award.
The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC
that John Rocco
will participate in a Caldecott 75th Anniversary Facebook Forum at 1 p.m. Eastern time on Wednesday, March 6, 2013. Rocco won a Caldecott Honor in 2012 for his picture book Blackout
Want to learn more about the logo 2008 Caldecott Medal winner Brian Selznick
created especially for the 75th Anniversary celebration and the characters in it? Just click here
And for a little more fun, read Brian's acceptance speech for The Invention of Hugo Cabret here
and watch the illustrated sequence that played on huge video screens during the speech here
It's time to VOTE! The 2013 Mock Caldecott polls are open.
Head over to The Horn Book blog before January 22nd and get your vote in. They have a link to the Calling Caldecott Ballot. It's easy! Just takes a minute. But remember, the polls close at 9am tomorrow.
Vote for Your All-time Favorite Caldecott Winner.
In honor of the 75th anniversary of the Caldecott head over to @ Your Library and vote! Your name could be drawn to
receive a copy of the 2013 winning Caldecott title and a $25 Amazon gift card! Contest will remain open until 2:00 p.m. Central time, Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013.
If you need help remembering your favorite Caldecott Medal-winning title, just follow these links from @ Your Library
, and you will find book covers, grouped by decades, of all the past award winners.
Today's tour will be all about links. So sit back, click, and follow some fun. In honor of the upcoming Caldecott Award announcement on Monday, I'm putting in my vote for favorite picture of 2012. It is The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, by William Joyce.
Take a tour studio office space and the creative team Joyce has put together at:Moonbot Studios
You'll find more Morris Lessmore here:morrislessmore.com
Here you'll find an interview
about the app.
You can read about the Academy Award winning short film version, and even watch the film's trailer here
Follow this link
to see a few thumbnails and the creators of this story.
I served on the 1995 Newbery and 2002 Caldecott committees. These remain two special moments in my career. Like dessert, it was sweet. But I can't have that diet all the time - that's why I love the meat and potatoes of the many "process" committees I serve on. I wish the experience of being on an award committee to each and every ALSC and YALSA member at least once in their careers and I hope that each member, having served once or twice on a prestigious award committee, makes room for others who wish to have the experience.
It's the night before the American Library Association's Youth Media Awards announcements. By now the discussion, the deliberation, the voting and the annotations are done. The frisson of excitement within each committee as the top honored book, recording or film has been determined is palpable. The committee members are as proud as new parents at their award titles and honorees. But it's still secret.
Roommates teasingly pry; spouses look for hints; colleagues wonder and give an extra squeeze to hands and shoulders of committee members, knowing the intense work of the past year. The committee members, though excited, appear serene. The decision that will echo through youth literature down through the ensuing years is done. It's finished. Often committee members spend some time together after the final meeting just to have people to talk with. Hearts are very full.
The ALA Public Information Office has kicked into high gear. They are reaching out to obtain phone numbers; writing press releases and press conference scripts; determining if there are immediate media opportunities for winners; scheduling committees for their Monday morning phone calls - yes, the honorees are called by the committee chairs backed by their committees prior to the press conference. In Seattle, it will be at a blessedly decent time - when at an east coast ALA midwinter, west coasters often get the call pre-dawn.
There is a little note of trepidation in many a committee person's heart on this night. How will the crowd of 500 librarians, publishers and booksellers present at the press conference and the audience of teachers, librarians, book creators, and makers and sellers around the world react to their committee's choice - with screams of approbation or the gasp of in-taken breath? I have heard both. That moment when the committee stands to face the dais, back to the audience, and have their choices announced is nerve-wracking.
But that's tomorrow. Tonight, there is the sweet feeling of a job well done; a challenge met and and the camaraderie of a group of people who have read, pored over, reflected and discussed books together in a rarefied atmosphere to winnow and seek that golden best. And that is enough.
For more insights on the award process, stop at this Nerdy Book Club post
and read Monica Edinger's outstanding post myth-busting the Newbery Committee process Image: 'Poesia' http://www.flickr.com/photos/58929717@N00/93235624 Found on flickrcc.net
Congratulations to all the winners!
Caldecott Medal Winner
Published by Candlewick Press
Caldecott Honor Books
Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Published by Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
Published by by Roaring Brook Press
Published by Dial Books for Young Readers
Published by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
Newbery Medal Winner
Published by HarperCollins Children’s Books
Newbery Honor Books
Published by Flash Point, an imprint of Roaring Brook Press
Published by Dial Books for Young Readers/Penguin
Special thanks to the American Library Association (ALA
) for the live webcast
. What a fun way to hear the results over my morning cup of coffee! Be sure to follow this link
to see the complete list of all the winners in all of the categories. Congratulations again to everyone!
The Oscars of the KidLit world, the ALA Youth Media Awards were announced today in Seattle. Here in snowy PA, I had to be content with watching them on webcast. Like all fancy award shows, the big ticket items were saved for the end.
The Caldecott went to This Is Not My Hat
by Jon Klassen.
I was surprised, since I hadn't realized it was in the running and the reviews I'd read didn't rate it as highly as his previous book, I Want My Hat Back
(which I loved).
For lovers of picture books, there were five, count 'em five, honor books: Extra Yarn
(written by Mac Barnett and again illustrated by Klassen), Creepy Carrots
(Aaron Reynolds and Peter Brown), Green
(Laura Vaccaro Seeger), One Cool Friend
(Toni Buzzeo and David Small), and Sleep Like a Tiger
(Mary Logue and Pamela Zagarenski).
Katherine Applegate's The One and Only Ivan
snagged the Newbery. I haven't read it yet (I have a hold on it), but I love the backstory. The novel is based on a silverback gorilla who spent 27 long years along in a cage, an attraction in a mall, before finally being moved to a zoo. The real Ivan died last year at the ripe old age (for a gorilla) of 50.
The honor books are Bomb: The Race to Build--and Steal--the World's Most Dangerous Weapon
(Steve Sheinkin), Splendors and Gloom
(Laura Amy Schlitz) and Three Times Lucky
The Theodore Seuss Geisel Award is given to the most distinguished beginning reader, so naturally I gripped the edge of my seat when it was announced. The winner is Up, Tall, and High
, a picture book by Ethan Long. Another title that slipped through my radar, I will read it pronto and report back. The honor books are: Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons
(Eric Litwin), Let's Go for a Drive
(Mo Willems), and Rabbit & Robot: The Sleepover
(Cece Bell). You can read my reviews for Let's Go for a Drive here
and for Rabbit & Robot here
Congrats to all the winners! Click here to see a full list.
Post ALA youth media awards scuttlebutt is ever and always the same - as are my reactions.
People swoon. People go nuclear. People swear and threaten (they clearly have had bad days for other reasons). People cheer. People go bat-shit crazy ("I knew it all along and finally everyone agrees with my superior book sense". Yeah, right...let me run and get you that mirror, oh self-regarding one). People sincerely thank the committee members. People bemoan a favorite frozen out. People question books they haven't heard of or haven't purchased. People dance. People have 20-20 hindsight or claim prescience. People insist the committee members are uncaring; nuts or craven. People sigh over how unpopular the winners or honorees will be with kids. People glow in agreement.
I'm going to tell you all what I think and know and how I react...my ten truths as it were.
1. The committee people work carefully, hard, diligently and conscienctiously.
2. There is never a moment during the year they serve that they don't take their charge extremely seriously.
3. No matter how widely and much you've read, you have NOT- and I repeat - NOT read the books like committee members have.
4. No matter how much you've discussed, tweeted or blogged about these books, you have NOT - and I repeat - NOT discussed them in the depth and defended and advocated them at the level the award committees have.
4.5 (Ok, Ok I was so hot on this topic I lost count. Dyslexia strikes again)
These awards are not for mad or even mild popularity - they are for quality literature for youth. Believe me, without awards like these we'd mostly have Barbie, fart and Star Wars books. Period.
5. Book creators truly care about being recognized for quality work. Here is Tammy Pierce's reaction
. Here is Peter Brown's
. I still keep in touch with a couple of book creators from my award committee years and each has said how much the honor or award changed their life and career. These.awards.matter.
6. If a book is honored that comes out of left field, by the goddesses, I am happy to find it, buy it for the public, read it and promote it. What is better than discovering something new and amazing?
7. I am proud of ALA and all the youth divisions for celebrating quality literature for youth. It makes my job easier and opens up the possibilities for kids and teens of having an amazing read.
8. I want everyone to have an award committee experience. It is amazing. But you must join ALA and one of the youth divisions - plus it would be great if you served on many committees and not just award committees. Share your talents.
9. I am inordinately proud of every award committee member and thankful to their families and libraries for supporting them during a very busy, very tough year.
10. They done good.
I seldom refer so quickly again to a post but I will re-point you again to Monica Edinger's post
in the Nerdy Book Club in which she helps readers understand the enormity of what committee members do. Read it again and some of these Marge-truths will make sense.
Image: 'Sad' http://www.flickr.com/photos/8830697@N08/5601369995 Found on flickrcc.net
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Franki and I had a little email conversation late last week. It went something like this:
She: "Are we ignoring the Newbery this year?"
Me: "Kinda. I'll do a 'Newbery Surprises' post on Tuesday because all the winners will be new to me.
And then the biggest surprise of all:
I've read it three times (self, aloud to fourth graders, aloud to fifth graders).
And right there on my picture book shelf were the Caldecott and several honor books!
There's a Coretta Scott King Author Honor book on my chalktray...
...and we just confirmed the Coretta Scott King Illustrator, Bryan Collier for the 2014 Dublin Literacy Conference.
I listened to the Odyssey Award winning audio book.
This Stonewall honor book is being passed through my two fifth grade classes like wildfire...
...and this one needs to be read by every high school and college student.
Pete the Cat, with his attitude ("Did he cry? Goodness NO!") and his Zen-like reminder that "Buttons come and buttons go," made the Geisel Honor list.
So the biggest surprise that came with this year's ALA Youth Media Awards? How many I know, and own, and love!
For all the winners, check out ALA's Official Press Release