Last Night the Children’s Book Council Held Its First Gala for the Children’s Choice Book Awards
The event was part of a revived Children’s Book Week, and it did have real energy. I’ll describe that in a moment, but here is the interesting bit. The way the choices work, IRA and CBC come up with a list, then kids whose libraries (or parents) get the books vote. There are three age categories — K-2; 3-4; 5-6. Well in the 3-4 category, two of the five finalists, Wolves by Duncan Searl, published by Bearport, and Big Cats by Elaine Landau, published by Enslow, were nonfictin. And, in fact, Big Cats won — beating out Babymouse by Jennifer Hold and Matthew Hold; the Richest Poor Kid by Carl Sommer; and Monday with a Mad Genius by Mary Pope Osborne.
This award is not a true index of what kids like — so much clearly had to do with what they happened to see. An announced 55,000 kids participated, but I have no idea how that broke down. Still, it is striking that the kind of illustrated nonfiction that is often seen as a library purchase turned out to be a kids favorite.
The event itself was hosted by Jon Scieszka, who is clearly just the right guy for his abassadorial role. Al Roker was honored, and was clearly pleased. And it took place at the Times Center — a venue so new that Julie Just, children’s book editor of the paper, had not been there yet. It was the sort of event that had appealing food — but I am not kidding when I say the tacos were the size of a fingernail — I mistook the green pebbles on which they were displayed for the food. Tiny food, funny Jon, TV-Al — made the awards feel fresh — as did the unexpected visibility of nonfiction. It all bodes well for the future.