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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

A Fuse #8 Prediction: Newbery / Caldecott 2012

When you consider the fact that whole hoards of librarians will be traipsing Texas-ward this week so as to attend the Midwinter American Library Association Conference, this post is pretty much coming in at the last possible moment.  Even as we speak committee members are girding their loins (or whatever it is committee members gird) in preparation for the debates.  Oh, the debates!  They will have to keep their wits about them.  They’ll need to prepare.  To make sure they’ve considered every possible sling against the books they adore, and to conjure up a few slings 0f their own against the ones they abhor.

But not me.  Nope.  Here in my ivory tower (slash marble edifice) I am content to just throw out a couple names here and there based entirely on my own opinion and the opinions of the countless librarians I’ve watched closely throughout the year.  I’ve peeked at the various Goodreads lists (you can find different Newbery lists here, here, here, here and a Caldecott one here), checked out blogs like Heavy Medal and Calling Caldecott.  I’ve also watched various Mock Newbery and Mock Caldecott decisions from around this great nation.  The result?

Well, last year I explained that 2011 would be The Year of the Wild Cards.  That was my not-so-subtle method of covering my butt when I got my predictions wrong (and, for the record, paved the way nicely for Moon Over Manifest to get the gold).  When it came to my predictions themselves, I did mention A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead, but I said that Dave the Potter wouldn’t get anything because it had been forgotten by the masses.  Silly me.  On the Newbery side I mentioned One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia (though I said it would get the gold) and entirely failed to even mention any of the Honors.  So as you can see, my predictions are entirely haphazard.

With that in mind . . . here’s how I see 2012′s winners shaping up:

Newbery Medal

And the gold goes to . . .

Amelia A Fuse #8 Prediction: Newbery / Caldecott 2012

Amelia Lost by Candace Fleming – The more I think about it, the more sense this makes.  Now this isn’t a surefire thing by any means.  A nonfiction book hasn’t won a Newbery Medal proper since Lincoln: A Photobiography by Russell Freedman way back in 1988.  In the intervening twenty-four years some stellar top-notch informational fare has garnered Honor after Honor, but the gold itself has proved elusive.  Now do you remember last year when I said that Newberys and Caldecotts sometimes follow specific patterns?  The pattern goes: The Year of Breaking Barriers followed by The Year of Playing It Safe followed by The Year of the Givens followed by The Year of the Wild Cards.  I’m not saying I necessarily believe these words myself even (committees are always different and don’t exactly plan on “playing it safe” or choosing a “wild card” when they join on).  But if I’m going to play devil’s advocate, let’s say I believe it.  Using my own logic, a nonfiction award winner would break down old barriers hither and yon.  It would give the nonfiction authors of children’s books hope.  It could pave the way for publishers to put out more and more great fact-based texts for kids.  Maybe it would inspire the Barnes and Nobles of the world to give their nonfiction sections some front and center attention!

As for the book itself, my opinions on it are well documented.  Here’s what I’ve really noticed about it, though.  When folks discuss the best books of the year, darned if they can come up with anything to say about this book that isn’t shining and positive.  Even the folks at Heavy Medal were hard pressed to find objections (the best they came up with: Uh . . . the sidebars are kinda distracting?).  But would that normally be enough to give it the gold right there?  Not really, but in this year there are some peculiarities that I think will yield it as the winner.

And don’t think I haven’t noticed that if this book wins it’ll give Random House a third consecutive gold three years running.  The thought occurred.

Newbery Honors

OkayforNow A Fuse #8 Prediction: Newbery / Caldecott 2012

Okay for Now by Gary Schmidt – In my last prediction selection for 2012 I wondered if this year would be The Year of the Bridesmaids.  Which is to say, folks who normally get Honors might actually take home the gold proper.  I thought Schmidt had a clear shot early in the year.  Then I served on a committee or two myself and saw what happens when folks discuss this book.  Things get heated.  Things get divided.  Things get confusing, and it’s all because of that darned ending.

Look.  I’ll level with you.  Gary has a very good chance of getting the gold this time around.  Personally, I enjoyed this book even more than his last Honor, The Wednesday Wars.  But when it comes to Newbery Award winning books, envision the following situation: It’s 2 a.m.  The committee members have been going back and forth about the books for hours upon hours.  They’re exhausted.  They’ll do anything to get a clear cut winner.  So what happens?  They find anything that will sink a book down to Honor level, anything at all, and use that problem to separate it from the pack.  That’s where Okay for Now suffers.  It has an ending that I’m sure at least one committee member, and probably more, will dislike.  When that father started discussing how pretty the flowers were, that was the moment when the book officially shot itself in the foot.  I hope that I’m wrong, but my deep and abiding suspicion is that once again Mr. Schmidt will find himself getting a phone call that makes him happy but not ecstatic.  Speaking of which . . .

MayAmelia A Fuse #8 Prediction: Newbery / Caldecott 2012

The Trouble with May Amelia by Jennifer L. Holm – Here we have a woman who has honor upon honor to her name but no goldy gold.  Man what I wouldn’t give for them to hand her the real thing for once.  In this particular case she’s written a book that has more guts than 90% of the stuff published for kids today.  I also am enjoying the idea of two books with the name “Amelia” in their titles getting medals.  If we rope in Jimmy Gownley’s Amelia series and the Amelia’s Notebook books by Marissa Moss we could have a fantastic Amelia-based reading list, don’t you think?  In any case, in spite of its cover (a new paperback jacket is on the horizon!!) this deserves all the love the committee has to spare.  The only reason it won’t win is that folks will probably bring up the fact that the number of bad things that happen to Amelia’s family move this book from merely implausible to downright bizarre.

Jefferson A Fuse #8 Prediction: Newbery / Caldecott 2012

Jefferson’s Sons by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley – I can’t tell you how pleased I am to hear the name of this book bandied about these days.  In the end, I don’t know that it’ll be an Honor.  Historical fiction often comes down to personal taste more than anything else and the heat and heart that keeps the public’s love for Okay for Now blazing may not be the same heat and heart that proposes this for the gold.  At the very least, I do hope that they committee considers it for an honor.

Wait!  Why the heck didn’t you mention . . .

Icefall A Fuse #8 Prediction: Newbery / Caldecott 2012

Icefall by Matthew Kirby – I love it too so put down your snowballs.  But he’s not quite there yet, folks.  I admit that Mr. Kirby’s writing is gaining the high ground and that soon he may have to reinforce his bookshelves so that they may hold the countless honors and awards he’s liable to stack there.  That said, Icefall is great but can it call itself one of the most distinguished of the year?  Maybe yes.  Maybe no.  It won’t really surprise me if it gets an honor, but my gut feeling is that this is not yet Mr. Kirby’s year.

InsideOut A Fuse #8 Prediction: Newbery / Caldecott 2012

Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai – Which could turn out to be the surprise dark horse in this race.  Its National Book Award win was a good example of how well it stands up when it comes to committee discussions.  However, when was the last time a National Book Award title won a Newbery gold?  It’s been a while.  Somehow I suspect this will end up on the outs when the day is done.

MonsterCalls 721x1024 A Fuse #8 Prediction: Newbery / Caldecott 2012

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness – There are too many factors working against this poor little book.  If the question of whether Ness can even be considered doesn’t sink it then the age level might.  There might be the occasional committee member who believes it’s above the 14-year-old age limit.  I personally adore it, but I can see it getting sunk and sunk good.

Wonderstruck Cover A Fuse #8 Prediction: Newbery / Caldecott 2012

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick – I know that Heavy Medal had an extended conversation about whether or not a book that tells itself partly in pictures is able to win a Newbery.  Ultimately this is a question for the committee itself and my suspicion is that they’ll ere on the side of caution.  It would be fitting for my Year of Breaking Barriers to end much as the last one did: With a Selznick win.  However, even when Hugo Cabret took home gold it was Caldecott gold.  Not quite the same thing as Newbery gold, you can be sure.

Breadcrumbs1 A Fuse #8 Prediction: Newbery / Caldecott 2012

Breadcrumbs by Anne Ursu – *sigh*  I want it to win but my heart was broken by A Tale Dark & Grimm not getting a mention and I fear Ursu is in the same little boat that Gidwitz was.  This suffers from being a bit of a divisive book, never good when you’re dealing with committee talks.  Then again, The Underneath was divisive and look how well that did.

And now for your viewing pleasure, we shall do the same darn thing with the . . .

Caldecott Medal

heartandsoul 300x299 A Fuse #8 Prediction: Newbery / Caldecott 2012

Heart and Soul: The Story of American and African Americans by Kadir Nelson – Imagine a year in which a nonfiction title won both the Newbery and the Caldecott.  Whatta scoop!  The Caldecott fares better than the Newbery when you consider when such a book last won the gold.  If we don’t count 2004′s The Man Who Walked Between the Towers (which, though a true story, is often cataloged in the fiction picture book section) then we go back to 2001′s So You Want to be President? Coincidentally that book was recently re-illustrated with new text to correct the now outdated portion that discusses how no one who isn’t male and white has ever held the post.  It was updated to show Barack Obama striding into a room.  And now we have Kadir Nelson’s book which mentions that very thing at its end.

Nelson is part of the reason I initially labeled this a Year of the Bridesmaids.  He gets an Honor every once in a while but never the proper gold.  Some folks thought he was a shoo-in the year We Are the Ship was released, but my theory as to why that book was never honored had to do with the interaction between text and image.  Often the pictures did not correspond in the least to the story going on.  Harper Collins, the publisher of Heart and Soul, may have been aware of this since his latest book takes care to reflect images that have a connection to the text.  Are they imperative to the writing itself?  That’s the committee’s call (and could potentially sink it in the end).  Not quite a picture book, not quite fiction, not quite nonfiction, this is a “not quite” book that may earn itself quite an award.

Caldecott Honors

BallforDaisy 300x300 A Fuse #8 Prediction: Newbery / Caldecott 2012

A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka – This is my I-have-no-opinion book of the year.  There’s always one. This one has seriously touched some people, and not just dog lovers either.  Raschka’s books fluctuate between being arty and kid-friendly.  This is far more of the latter, but has enough of the former to give it some serious consideration.

GrandpaGreen 300x228 A Fuse #8 Prediction: Newbery / Caldecott 2012

Grandpa Green by Lane Smith – Adults think it’s heavenly.  Indeed, this could even be a shoo-in for the gold itself.  Smith’s trouble the last few years has been connecting with kids. Adults go goofy for his work and indeed he began his career by straddling the line between adult humor and kid-friendliness.  This book about an old man’s life has cool imagery which may indeed nab the interest of child readers, but will the story be one they want to read again and again?  Whether kids like the book is not an official consideration of the Caldecott committee, but it may at least be in the very back of their minds relegating this to honor status.

AllWayAmerica 300x235 A Fuse #8 Prediction: Newbery / Caldecott 2012

All the Way to America by Dan Yaccarino – Memoirs always fare pretty well when it comes to this award and Yaccarino is long overdue for some shiny medals.  He may have struck gold with this clever family story, doling out equal parts heart and humor.  I would not be at all surprised if the committee recognized this for that very reason.

Wait!  Why the heck didn’t you mention . . .

Perfect Square hc c 300x300 A Fuse #8 Prediction: Newbery / Caldecott 2012

Perfect Square by Michael C. Hall – I’m torn (no pun intended . . . well, maybe a little intended).  On the surface it appears to have the word “Caldecott” glowing from every page.  There’s just something about it that gives me pause.  I’m hard pressed to say precisely what that is.

IWantMyHatBack A Fuse #8 Prediction: Newbery / Caldecott 2012

I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen – You could argue that if I’m calling this a year of breaking barriers, Klassen’s book would certainly do that if it won.  That said, it would take a very daring committee to give Klassen his due.  It’s not impossible.  It’s just highly unlikely.

NeverForgotten A Fuse #8 Prediction: Newbery / Caldecott 2012

Never Forgotten by Patricia McKissack, illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon – It was brought to my attention that the tribes mentioned in the book may have been portrayed as historically inaccurate.  There is also the problem of showing white slavers going into Africa to fetch slaves, a problematic image since apparently that didn’t happen.  I don’t have any of the history on hand to consult, but the nature of these questions may be enough to show that the committee will have to deal with them and will probably in the end decide that the book isn’t strong enough to fight these concerns.

QueenofFalls A Fuse #8 Prediction: Newbery / Caldecott 2012

Queen of the Falls by Chris Van Allsburg – Because when push comes to shove, little old lady adventurers suffer the same prejudices today as they did when Annie went over that waterfall.  She deserves ever honor in the book.  She won’t get a jot.

There are, naturally, other books out there that will come up.  These are just the ones that come to my mind immediately.  Come next Monday we’ll see for ourselves what we shall see.

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Elizabeth Bird About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently New York Public Library's Youth Materials Collections Specialist. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of NYPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.

Comments

  1. Isn’t GOOD MASTERS! SWEET LADIES! considered nonfiction?

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      Hmmm. Good point, Monica. Sections of it are and it tends to be shelved in the Plays section of the library according to Dewey. I always considered the monologues fiction, though, so while there are nonfic parts to it, you couldn’t call all of it nonfiction entirely. But that’s an excellent point.

  2. Brenda Kahn says:

    Thanks for your round-up. I have only been skimming the various online discussions as I haven’t been able to get to all of the “frontrunner” books, but I find it interesting that Newbery-oriented discussions have been pegging A Monster Calls older and Printz-oriented discussions have been stating it’s not YA.

    bk

  3. mhg says:

    Are there any great women illustrators recognized out there in picture book land? The Dillons share the honor. What are we teaching little girls who wish to paint?

  4. Colby Sharp says:

    I really hope The Trouble With May Amelia is recognized next week. May Amelia is one of my all-time favorite characters.

  5. Jonathan Hunt says:

    Well, GOOD MASTERS! SWEET LADIES! is shelved in nonfiction, but I wouldn’t call it an informational book any more than I would call a book of poetry an informational book.

  6. Tom Angleberger says:

    Since your blog is the “Newspaper of record” for kidllt, I set these words in stone: “The Friendship Doll is a book that belongs on the Newbery poster/shelf for library-loving kids to find again and again for the next 100 years.”

    But I argue not with the rest of your list….

  7. What a nice surprise on this wet and dreary northern Virginia morning! I planned to catch up on the Mock Newbery/Caldecott/Printz sites and lists this morning, and was just wondering if I had missed your predictions, by some chance. I cannot find fault with your predictions–I would be thrilled if Candace Fleming won the Medal. You didn’t mention my favorites for the Caldecott–Blackout, Naamah and the Ark at Night, and Me…Jane, but that’s part of the fun of reading predictions. If everyone said the same thing, reading them would get boring pretty quickly!

  8. jen bryant says:

    I always enjoy reading your posts, especially at this time of year. Not only do you provide us with an excellent (and I have to imagine, pretty accurate) list of finalists and winners, but I find myself scribbling down the titles of wonderful books I somehow missed and plan to seek out at the public library. Thank you for sharing your insights, summaries, and predictions. I look forward to seeing your “post-ALA announcements” comments, too!

  9. marjorie says:

    Oh, thank you for mentioning All the Way to America! I loved it when I read it, but it’s one of those books that really stayed with me. My esteem and fondness for it have only grown.

    And now, free-association!

    Amelia Lost is my personal top choice.

    I would definitely not call Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! non-fiction.

    Caldecotted woman illustrators (and deservedly so): Marla Frazee. Marjorie Priceman. (Who both have more than one medal or honor). Laura Vaccaro Seeger. Barbara Lehman. Betsy Lewin. Trina Schart Hyman…I know there are more. But totes, there should be LOADS more.

    I liked Wonderstruck more than Hugo Cabret (in fact, LURVED it), but I don’t see it getting rewarded for the delightful melange-itude of itselfness.

    Can I keep shrieking about Emma Dilemma, please? IT IS SO FAB. But again, with the words and pics being of equal awesomeness, I think it’s unlikely to win anything. (Also, I have not checked whether it is ELIGIBLE. ‘Cause I’m no librarian.) BUT IT IS TEH AWESOME.

    I’ve kept my mouth shut on this but I don’t think Breadcrumbs is in anywhere near the same league as A Tale Dark and Grimm. Mileage and tastes vary.

  10. Peter says:

    Here’s are some stats on female vs. male Caldecott winners I compiled in 2009. They have obviously changed slightly in the two years since, but the facts as of 2009 are quite startling:

    In the case of the Caldecott, men tend to win at about TWICE the rate of women!

    These figures are a little difficult to, er, figure because there are many cases when m-and-f teams (Leo and Diane Dillon, Maud and Miska Petersham, etc.) were honored together. When that happened, I gave them both a tick mark in the “male” column and the “female” column.

    So, as of this year, we have 52 male winners…and only 26 female winners.

    Factoring in all the Honor Books as well, we have 204 titles illustrated by men…and only 116 by women.

    The longest “run” of female winners has been three years — and it only happened once: 1983 (Marcia Brown for SHADOW) 1984 (Alice Provensen, who shared the award with husband Martin for THE GLORIOUS FLIGHT) and 1985 (Trina Schart Hyman for SAINT GEORGE AND THE DRAGON.)

    However, the longest run of male winners was nine years between Simms Taback in 2000 and Brian Selznick in 2009. There was also a seven-year span of male-only winners, from 1986 (Chris Van Allsburg) to 1992 (David Wiesner.)

    Finally, let’s also look at the years in which the Caldecott and ALL the Honors have gone to only female writers:

    It’s happened in 1945 and 1983. That’s it.

    Conversely, there have been almost fifteen occasions when the winner and ALL the Honors have gone to only male writers:

    1958, 1961, 1968, 1969, 1975, 1979, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1995, 1998, 2002, 2003, 2007. Strangely, it seems to be happening more often in the modern era than in the early days of the Caldecott Award!

  11. Peter says:

    Tom, I thought THE FRIENDSHIP DOLL screamed “Newbery Honor” from the moment I read it, but it hasn’t seemed to get much attention from most Mock Newbery groups. It will be interesting to see what happens next Monday….

  12. Erin E. Stead says:

    I think we should tell little girls who want to paint that they should paint, no matter what anyone says. I think little boys need to hear that too. That being said, we can also tell little girls who want to paint is that the first Caldecott winner in 1938 was a woman and they have been well represented ever since.

    Dorothy P. Lathrop
    Clare Turlay Newberry
    Laura Adams Armer
    Wanda Gág
    Ingri and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire
    Berta and Elmer Hader
    Maud and Miska Petersham
    Virginia Lee Burton
    Mary and Conrad Buff
    Louis Slobodkin
    Elizabeth Orton Jones
    Tasha Tudor
    Marie Hall Ets
    Marguerite de Angeli
    Kate Seredy
    Marjorie Torrey
    Ruth Gannett
    Marcia Brown
    Helen Stone
    Katherine Milhous
    Margaret Bloy Graham
    Elizabeth Olds
    Helen Sewell
    Evaline Ness
    Nonny Hogrogian
    Janina Domanska
    Nancy Ekholm Burkert
    Margot Zemach
    Susan Jeffers
    Leo and Diane Dillon
    Barbara Cooney
    Rachel Isadora
    Ilse Plume
    Molly Bang
    Anita Lobel
    Alice and Martin Provensen
    Vera B. Williams
    Diane Goode
    Trina Schart Hyman
    Nancy Tafuri
    Ann Grifalconi
    Suse MacDonald
    Lois Ehlert
    Faith Ringgold
    Emily Arnold McCully
    Carole Byard
    Denise Fleming
    Peggy Rathmann
    Marjorie Priceman
    Janet Stevens
    Holly Meade
    Mary Azarian
    Betsy Lewin
    Margaret Chodos-Irvine
    Steve Jenkins and Robin Page
    Barbara Lehman
    Laura Vaccaro Seeger
    Beth Krommes
    Marla Frazee
    Melissa Sweet
    Pamela Zagarenski

    I may have missed some. I didn’t double or triple anyone who won multiple times. Forgive me, I am typing fast because I am under a very tough deadline. I also don’t think sharing the honor takes away from anything.

    That being said, hooray books! These are all good choices! I can say from experience, you never know.

  13. I defer to BB’s psychic powers, but two more books struck me as Newbery contenders– ONE DAY AND ONE AMAZING MORNING ON ORANGE STREET by Joanne Rocklin and PIE by Sarah Weeks.

  14. Vicki Reutter says:

    Thank you, Elizabeth! I love your candid reviews and my money is also riding on Amelia Lost. I just ordered my own copy in anticipation – that’s how I do my betting! I also kept my review copy of Icefall (to savor) and while I agree Kirby is not quite ready for prime time, it is my most circulating title for my dozens of John Flanagan groupies who have finished the series (which means it runs circles around Okay For Now and all other contenders combined).
    So much fun! Can’t wait to twitter the announcements on Monday!

  15. Sharon says:

    I would be pleased as punch if either “Amelia Lost” or “Okay For Now” took away the big prize. “Okay” is actually shelved with YA books in my library, and so mostly out of my daily reach, but I’ve been shoving “Amelia Lost” into every set of hands I possibly could. And with “The Trouble with May Amelia” (another worthy winner were it to happen), I always preface my book talk by saying, “Now, please, ignore the cover”. :)

  16. MotherReader says:

    I’m curious that you’d have “Perfect Square” as a possibility, but not “Blackout” or “Me… Jane.” For me, “Perfect Square” didn’t work because it bugged me that it was one square – I think it says “a” square” – that seemingly changed color and ripped and tore and whatever each day. Yeah, I get the bigger picture of the book, but that rubbed me wrong… and honestly, I don’t see Caldecott for the illustrations.

    I’m betting on “Grandpa Green,” because unlike some awards – um, Cybils – whether or not it actually appeals to kids isn’t part of the formula. And that’s okay.

    Like your bold Newbery choice and just hope to see “Okay for Now” on the honors list.

  17. rams says:

    Yeah, you LOVE Me, Jane — whassup?

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      I do love Me… Jane, tis true. In that particular case, I suspect the book isn’t eligible for the Caldecott. Remember that some of the art is by Jane Goodall herself. I think that the committee may determine that McDonnell can’t win on that technicality. Call me kooky, but that’s my suspicion. As for poor Perfect Square, I was so enthralled with it in the beginning but since then I’ve cooled. Plus no one’s talking about it! Poor little square.

  18. Ed Spicer says:

    I don’t buy the (largely) text-oriented argument against A Nation’s Hope. Consequently, I think that Kadir has a real shot with A Nation’s Hope, which in addition to superb, absolutely superb illustrations, we have more of the page turn considerations as well. I’m also thinking that we could see Marla back on the platform somewhere for Stars. Totally agree with Grandpa Green and I am very pleased to see Jefferson’s Sons on your list, but I fear that it is too polarizing to generate committee consensus. In terms of degree of difficulty, however, Jefferson’s Sons deserves consideration.

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      I think the argument against A Nation’s Hope is definitely enough to remove it from Medal consideration, though. It might get an Honor but even if the concerns are with the text, the Caldecott is very concerned with the relationship between text and art. And if the text is deemed to be problematic, that’s just another point against it when the final voting comes in. If the writing had been a bit different I bet Nelson would have been a shoo-in. As it stands I wouldn’t be surprised if it got an Honor, but the Award itself is probably unlikely.

      I agree with you that Jefferson’s Sons may end up the wallflower at this party, but I hope there will be at least enough strong arguments for it to get it an Honor. I hope I hope.

  19. Joan Raphael says:

    I know this is off topic, but you said: “Between the Towers (which, though a true story, is often cataloged in the fiction picture book section) then we go back to 2001’s So You Want to be President? Coincidentally that book was recently re-illustrated with new text to correct the now outdated portion that discusses how no one who isn’t male and white has ever held the post. It was updated to show Barack Obama striding into a room. And now we have Kadir Nelson’s book which mentions that very thing at its end.”

    I can’t find that new edition of So you want to be a president at all!!! Can you save my sanity with an ISBN and/or date of pub.? Please?

    PS I’m rooting for Amelia Lost just for the fun of having nonfiction win the big ones for a change! And I’d love for Jefferson’s Sons to win perhaps an honor?

  20. Mary Kinser says:

    While secretly, in my heart of hearts, I hope “Okay for Now” takes it, I think your point about the ending is probably what will bump it to Honors status – sadly.

  21. Betsy, thanks for responding so promptly on Twitter to my reaction to your comment that Chris Van Allsburg’s “Queen of the Falls” “won’t get a jot” from the Caldecott committee because of prejudices against “little old lady adventurers.” A bit more on my concerns:

    As a former vice-president for awards of NBCC, I agree that all awards judges bring tastes and biases to the judging. And it’s refreshing that you deal so openly with how the Caldecott committee might respond to books. Your predictions always have the admirably straight-shooting quality of the umpire who said, “I calls ‘em like I sees ‘em.”

    But your comments on “Queen of the Falls” seem unfair both to Chris Van Allsburg and to librarians. Van Allsburg is one of our greatest living illustrators and, by my lights, deserved better than a glib comment that he’ll get nothing because he wrote about an old woman. Are librarians really so closed-minded?

    Even more troubling: I can’t imagine that you would say a book “won’t get a jot” because it’s about a “little old black/Jewish/Asian/Latino/Muslim” or other adventurer; that SLJ would post it if you did; or that librarians would penalize a book for that reason. If not, your post reflects a double standard: Prejudices against women and old people are more acceptable than those against other groups. Clearly many Americans do feel that way. In my experience, librarians are more fair-minded.

    We are living in a Golden Age of children’s nonfiction, and even by that standard, “Queen of the Falls” stands out for many reasons. To name just one: Children’s nonfiction is usually illustrated with photos or other documentary art. “Queen of the Falls” is the rare book that has the added aesthetic and emotional dimension that drawings or paintings by an artist of the first rank can bring. It has far more depth than most children’s nonfiction, because its poignant subtext about the plight of old women in America makes it much more than an exciting story about the first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel. I hope that librarians won’t slight this book, as your post suggests that they will, in part for the qualities that make it great.

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      Hi Janice,

      Thanks so much for posting your thoughts on the matter. I admit to being a bit of an agitator on this matter, and the reason is entirely personal. I actually had a librarian tell me earlier this year that a group (not an ALA committee) probably had slighted the book because of the subject. So when I write that a book will be ignored for that reason, I’ve this sneaky little hope that I make people upset. People who on some level would be able to give it its due. People who might have an extra added incentive to prove me wrong.

      Most librarians are not that closed-minded. Some are. I’m hoping the former not only outnumber the latter, but have the ability to give older women their fair due. And anger over the possibility that it won’t happen can only help.

  22. Wendy says:

    Betsy, haven’t you got any predictions for the other awards? I’ve really enjoyed those posts of yours in past years. Belpre? CSK? Schneider Family? Sibert?

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      Wendy, I didn’t cover them this year but I do have my favorites. I’ll try to conjure them up before (checks calender) tomorrow. Eep!

  23. mhg asks: Are there any great female illustrators in picture-book land? Yes! And one of them seems very much in the Caldecott-medal hunt this year: Nancy Eckholm Burkert, who won the 1972 Caldecott for “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” and whose “Lion & Mouse” was one of PW’s best children’s books of 2011 http://bit.ly/NEBLion. (Among the next generation: Carin Berger, whose “The Little Yellow Leaf” won much deserved acclaim when it appeared, is one of the best.)

    What do you think, Betsy? Does “Lion & Mouse” have a chance? Or is it too soon after Jerry Pinkney’s lion-and-mouse book version of the fable to win?

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      I think it has a definite chance. And the difficulty is just as you state it. But how neat would it be if we had a Mouse & the Lion right after a Lion & the Mouse? The two pair together beautifully since they’re so different. My fingers are firmly crossed.

  24. Correction to my earlier comment: Nancy Eckholm Burkert’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” was a Caldecott Honor Book, not a winner. But her “Mouse & Lion” is still great.

  25. David Ziegler says:

    I agree with your pick of Amelia Lost for Newbery ad hope it wins. I also expect OK for Now to get an Honor. I’m hoping Inside Out and Back Again gets an honor too. Monster certainly has a chance….

    For Caldecott I’m torn. I think there have been some amazing nonfiction efforts this year, and really love the illustrations in Swirl by Swirl, Queen of the Falls, and Brother Sun, Sister Moon. Balloons Over Broadway is also very neat. While the illustrations in Heart and Soul are beautiful, the text for me would have been more meaningful if it had been a straight nonfiction look at the African American experience and not a made up family: thuogh that may just be me…. Grandpa Green just doesn’t grab me, though I expect it to get awards. And if I Want My Hat Back wins, I’m going to be a bit irked. I do like All the Way To America. We’ll see – very shortly.

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  1. [...] wrote lots of fun posts in the lead up to the big reveal of the ALSC award winners (E.g. this pre-award show post by Betsy Bird at Fuse #8). Children’s book bloggers also announced the winners of the mock [...]

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