Newbery/Caldecott/Etc. 2009: My Own Personal Scorecard

The big children’s and teen literature awards from the American Library Association were announced on Monday morning, and just like last year, I bounded out of bed and ran to the computer first thing to see who won. And…


Well, first I should say that the awards committees’ processes are shrouded in secrecy, and (unlike the Cybils) no short-lists of finalists are published before the big announcement, so speculation among children’s-book aficionados heats up mightily in the weeks before the awards ceremony.


What this also means is that on the big day, putatively knowledgeable children’s librarians and other kidlit people often find themselves (ourselves) abashed to realize that they haven’t read the new Newbery (children’s literature) Caldecott (children’s book illustration) or Printz (young adult/teen literature) winners, and might not even have them in their collections.


Which is all a long-winded way of admitting that, once I’d managed to find a news release with the award books listed, I discovered that once again I have read none of the three big medalists, and slunk off to breakfast, humbled.


I’d at least heard of the Newbery medalist, The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman, and in fact have read so many rave reviews of the book that I featured it in a post a few weeks ago and even went so far as to put in a reserve for it at the library (there’s going to be a long line after me now). I’d also heard good things about the Printz Award winner, Jellicoe Road, by Melina Marchetta, but my library doesn’t have it yet, so I’m still waiting to read it.


This year’s Caldecott winner, The House in the Night, illustrated by Beth Krommes, was totally off my radar, though, and I don’t think I’m alone. Elizabeth Bird of Fuse #8 called it (sort of), but there wasn’t the kind of talk about it that there’s been around, say, Wabi Sabi or We Are the Ship, neither of which showed up on the Caldecott honor list (though We are the Ship won a Coretta Scott King award). From what I’ve seen of it—so far, just the cover, online—it looks lovely and cozy and retro in a way I very much like. So The House in the Night is on my reserve list now, too.


Here’s a complete list of the ALA Youth Award winners. I did get to read some of the honor books and one winner (what have I been reading, that there are so many I didn’t get to??) and can heartily recommend the Caldecott honor books A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever, by Marla Frazee, and How I Learned Geography, by Uri Shulevitz.


Among the Printz honor titles for young adults, I read and was blown away--in different ways--by both The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart and Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan.


And soon after it showed up in my library, I managed to grab the newest Elephant and Piggie book from Mo Willems, Are You Ready to Play Outside?, and so was pleased, though not surprised, to see that it won this year’s Geisel Award for Most Distinguished Book for Beginning Readers!


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