Follow This Blog: RSS feed
A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Newbery/Caldecott 2011 or Well, How Awesome Was THAT?

Didn’t I TELL you it was a Wild Card Year?  And the truth?  I adore Wild Card Years.  They’re my favorites, and not just because my Newbery year’s committee picked The Higher Power of Lucky either.  The whole reason I like the ALA Media Awards is because right until the last minute anybody can win and everybody’s fair game (always assuming they meet the right criteria).  So here’s my round-up of the winners!  And for the record, if you want to see the full list of winners (which I will not put here because I am lazy) head on over to Heavy Medal.  That’s where they lay.

We also get to play a little game I like to call How Many of These Did Fuse #8 Actually Read/Review.  I’ve never tallied my previous years before, so let’s start now!  From the top:

Newbery Award Winner:

Moon Over Manifest by Claire Vanderpool – I love you, Ms. Vanderpool.  Yes, I had a different winner picked out since (checks date of review) this time last year, but that’s okay.  If it had to go to anyone, I’m glad it went to a book that came so far out of left field that it left all the folks who had made predictions panting in the dust (including myself, of course).  It has three starred reviews to its name, which in some circles is considered the magic number for any Newbery winner.  Did I Review It: No.  Did I Even Read It: No.  Random House book.  You understand.  And that makes two years in a row for them!

Newbery Honors:

Turtle in Paradise, by Jennifer L. Holm – Woo-hoo!  Go, Jenni, go go go!  Loved that book, I did.  I just hope she gets an actually shiny gold award soon.  All these Honors are cool, but I wanna see her make a dive for the medal proper and soon.  Did I Review It: No.  Did  I Even Read It: Yes! 

Heart of a Samurai, by Margi Preus – Wow!  The book I thought would get a Scott O’Dell Award got a Newbery Honor instead!  Well played, Ms. Preus.  I’m not all that surprised, of course.  It’s a rip-roaring adventure tale with some fabulous writing.  I was a big fan.  Did I Review It: You bet!  I did a podcast review of it over at the Katie Davis site.

Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night, written by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Rick Allen – Silly me.  I read and reviewed the OTHER Joyce Sidman book this year (Ubiquitous) and left this one, the actual award winner, out in the cold.  Honestly, that was because I preferred the art in Ubiquitous to the art in this title.  But since I always assume Newbery committees won’t give props to poetry, I missed this one’s great Honor win.  Did I Review It: Nope.  Did I Even Read It: Nope and nope.

One Crazy Summer, by Rita Williams-Garcia – Ahhh.  Well at least it has an Honor and enough buzz around it that folks will remember it for years and years.  My initial review of this title came out on February 2, 2010, almost one year ago.  It’s always a kind of relief to know that a book you loved and adored for that long had other fans as well.  That silver sticker will look awful pretty on the cover anyway.

I think the real lesson of 2010 is that of all those books that could be considered YA and that folks wanted to consider anyway for the Newbery, not a single one won a Newbery Award.  And I’m fine with that.  That’s why the good lord made the Printz, after all.

Caldecott Award Winner:

A Sick Day for Amos McGee, illustrated by Erin E. Stead, written by Philip Stead – As I said in my last round of predictions, I want someone with the name “Stead” to win a major ALA award every year.  So far we’re two for two.  This was actually a real and delightful surprise to me.  I knew Stead had a good chance at an Honor but I didn’t have the guts to say she’d get the gold outright.  And for her FIRST picture book too!  I’m sure glad I reviewed that one when I did.  Makes me feel a little bit better about missing the Newbery winner entirely.  Did I Review It:  Oh yes, oh yes, oh yes.

Caldecott Honors:

Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave, illustrated by Bryan Collier, written by Laban Carrick Hill – Clearly I underestimated the committee.  I said that they wouldn’t appreciate this, what to my mind is, Collier’s best work since Uptown.  They proved me wrong.  There was a reason why I couldn’t review this one this year, but I’m glad it worked out for this book.  And for Mr. Collier too.  Did I Review It: No.  Did I Even Read It: Oh yes.  Many times.

Interrupting Chicken, written and illustrated by David Ezra Stein – Color me surprised on this one!  Not because it isn’t a fabulous book (it is) but because Mr. Stein is one of those folks I was worried the committee would ignore again.  Truth be told, even I ignored him this year.  I didn’t even mention this book on my last round-up.  Not once.  But it’s funny and fresh and proves that maybe Stein’s beginning to get the respect he so desperately deserves. Did I Review It: No.  Did I Even Read It: Yes!

Coretta Scott King Awards – John Steptoe New Talent for Writing

Victoria Bond and T.R. Smith for Zora and Me – Ah!  This got some Newbery buzz but never quite struck me as extraordinary enough to get over the last hump.  I would agree entirely that these two talented (and, let’s admit it, gorgeous) writers are more than deserving of a new talent award, though.  I’m excited to see what they come up with next in the future.  Did I Review It: No.  Did I Even Read It: Yes.

Coretta Scott King Awards – John Steptoe New Talent for Illustration:

Sonia Lynn Sadler for Seeds of Change – You know, it’s interesting to me that after a brief flurry of interest in Kadir Nelson’s Mama Miti, it sank like a stone never to come up for air again.  I blame the writing (odd since I love the author) not the story or the art.  This book was the same tale but the art was gorgeous in its own particular way.  Plus I’m always thrilled with Lee & Low Books get a little award attention.  Go, L&L, go!  Did I Review It: No.  Did I Even Read It: No.

Coretta Scott King Award for Illustration

Dave the Potter, illustrated by Bryan Collier – So very satisfying.  Very very satisfying indeed.

Coretta Scott King Honors for Illustration

Jimi Sounds Like a Rainbow, illustrated by Javaka Steptoe – Must feel good for him.  I’ve told you the story of how I had a kid in my library once who insisted on finding and reading every since Javaka Steptoe book we owned, right?  Well, there you go.  Another one for the kid’s pile. Did I Review It: No.  Did I Even Read It: Yes.

Coretta Scott King Award for Writing

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia – Soooooo satisfying.  Of course, I don’t know how she’ll be able to fit all her awards on the cover of the book without covering up the images there.  The combination of her Scott O’Dell Award with the Newbery Honor with this Coretta Scott King Award . . . . we should all have such problems, eh? Did I Review It: Yes.

Coretta Scott King Honor for Writing

Lockdown by Walter Dean Myers – A surprise for me since I was unaware they gave King Awards and Honors to YA novels.  That’s the only reason I didn’t read it, I like to think.  Did I Review It: No.  Did I Even Read It: No.

Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes – Huh.  Well it’s a cool idea and a great setting.  And the tension is nicely ratcheted up in the course of the story.  I tend to have problems with magical realism and how it’s handled in some novels, so this wasn’t one of my favorites of the year, but I respected what it was trying to do. Did I Review It: No.  Did I Even Read It: Yes.

Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty by G. Neri, illustrated by Randy DuBurke – Wow!  Is this the first graphic novel to ever win a King?  Maybe so.  In any case, I’m pleased as punch that they gave it the honor they did.  It’s a fantastic book and recently made it into the final round of the Cybils Awards.  Well played again, Lee & Low.  Did I Review It: Yes.

Printz Honor:

Nothing by Janne Teller – I don’t tend to cover the Printzs, but I will say how pleased I am to see Teller here.  I really didn’t feel that Nothing got enough attention this year, and the book is quite amazing.  Disturbing beyond belief, but amazing.  I’ve discussed this with other bloggers who mentioned that the translation felt a bit stilted, but I think once you get beyond that you’re in the clear.  Plus the kids in the bookgroup I run have been clamoring for it ever since I told them about it (NYPL doesn’t carry it yet, sadly).  Did I Review It: No.  Did I Read It: Yes!

Belpre Award for Best Illustrator

Grandma’s Gift by Eric Velasquez – By complete accident I ended up reading this book just last week, and I found it deeply satisfying.  Have you guys seen this one?  Juan de Pareja makes an appearance and the story feels very real and true.  I was delighted to see this get some loving.  Wish I’d reviewed it when I had a chance.  Did I Review It: No.  Did I Even Read It: Yes.

Belpre Honors for Best Illustrator

Fiesta Babies by Carmen Tafolla, illustrated by Amy Cordova – The revenge of the now defunct Tricycle Press.  Everyone sigh together on cue . . . *sigh*  Did I Review It: No.  Did I Even Read It: Yes!

Me, Frida by David Diaz – Perhaps this will convince him that maybe not every book of his needs to be done a computer.  I mean, it’s just gorgeous and it stands out amongst a lot of what he’s been doing lately.  Just sayin’.  Did I Review It: No, because apparently I am AWFUL at remembering to review Hispanic children’s literature.  Did I Even Read It: Yes.

Dear Primo: A Letter to My Cousin by Duncan Tonatiuh – Okay, this is one of the few books on this list that I haven’t even heard of.  Oh man.  Where did this one come from?  Hanging my head in shame.  Did I Review It: No.  Did I Even Read It: No.

Belpre Award for Best Author

The Dreamer by Pam Munoz Ryan, illustrated by Peter Sis – No Newbery Honor, huh?  That was a surprise.  Ah well.  At least the Belpre committee recognized the book, and that’s pretty cool.  Did I Review It: Yes, on the Katie Davis podcast.

Belpre Award for Best Author

Ole Flamenco by George Ancona – Oh good!  I didn’t know that nonfiction was even necessarily able to win this award.  This is one I saw time and time again and never got a chance to pick up and read.  2011 resolution: Read more!  Did I Review It: No.  Did I Even Read It: No.

The Firefly Letters: A Suffragette’s Journey to Cuba by Margarita Engle – Engle pulled off a Wild Card move of her own a couple years ago when her The Surrender Tree got a Newbery Honor.  This book could have pulled off its own surprise Newbery Honor win, but a Pura Belpre Honor ain’t half shabby either.  Did I Review It: No.  Did I Even Read It: No.

90 Miles to Havana by Enrique Flores-Galbis – I keep shelving this book on the New Books truck in my library branch.  Our “F” section in the fiction is really tight right now.  To its credit, it keeps getting checked out as a result.  Guess I should have read it to see why that was.  Instead I read The Red Umbrella.  Wrong choice.  Did I Review It: No.  Did I Even Read It: No.

Batchelder Award Winner

A Time of Miracles by Anne-Laure Bondoux – Sometimes I think that the Batchelder Award is my favorite award aside from the Newbery and Caldecott.  I just love it so.  I mean, I love translated books for kids and books for children from overseas.  The Batchelder just taps into that.  Not that I ever saw Bondoux’s book, but there are peaches on its cover, so it’s gotta be pretty good (I’m stretching a little here).  Particularly if it beat my beloved Departure Time.  Did I Review It: No.  Did I Even Read It: No.

Batchelder Honor Winner

Departure Time by Truus Matti – I would have given you all the awards in the world if I could have, Matti.  You had a terrible cover and a heart of gold.  Godspeed, little Dutch book.  Did I Review It: Yes.

Nothing by Janne Teller – Like I said, awesomeness incarnate.  And a book that makes The Lord of the Flies seems pretty seriously weak in comparison.  Did I Review It: No.  Did I Even Read It: Yes.

Sibert Medal Winner

Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World’s Strangest Parrot by Sy Montgomery, photos by Nic Bishop – I kick myself every day for putting off reviewing this until it was too late.  Talk about the world’s greatest nonfiction booktalk.  All you have to tell the kids is that it’s about gigantic flightless parrots that smell like honey and they’ll be hooked.  The fact that it makes for the most amusing reading in the world made me hope a little that it might get a Newbery.  Alas, this was not a nonfiction luvin’ Newbery year.  Did I Review It: No, consarn it.  Did I Read It: Yes.

Sibert Honor Winner

Ballet for Martha by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan, illustrated by Brian Floca – Don’t worry, Brian.  We’ll get you a Caldecott one of these day.  You just sit tight.  Did I Review It: Yes.

Lafayette and the American Revolution by Russell Freedman – I think that if you told folks beforehand that THIS was the Freedman book that was going to get noticed and not his WWI title (a book that, I admit it, I couldn’t get through) you’d have met with scoffs galore.  As it stands, I’m a little surprised, but pleased that he got something for his troubles.  Did I Review It: No.  Did I Even Read It: Yes.

Geisel Award

Bink and Gollie by Alison McGhee and Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Tony Fucile – I was hoping for a Caldecott but I am more than satisfied with a Geisel win.  Way to go, all!  Did I Review It: Yes.

Geisel Honors

Ling and Ting: Not Exactly the Same by Grace Lin – Yay!  Good old, Geisels.  They were the most predictable award this year.  I say that in a good way.  Did I Review It: Yes.

We Are in a Book! by Mo Willems – If I don’t review any Elephant & Piggie books anymore it isn’t because I don’t adore them.  It’s because they’re already popular and don’t need a leg up.  I’m pleased to see this get a Geisel, though.  It more than deserved it.  Did I Review It: No.  Did I Read It: Yes.

And now, from an award that’s given out by folks other than ALA:

The Sydney Taylor Award for Older Readers

Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword by Barry Deutsch – And, if I may be so bold, it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy or a nicer book.  So that’s two graphic novels (this and Yummy) that got a little love this year.  All the more reason we need an ALA Award for GNs, yes what?  Did I Review It: Yes.

Nothing I didn’t like won a thing this year.  That’s actually a little strange.  Usually there’s at least one book out there that gets a big award and that I have to plaster a grin about whenever a patron asks for it by name.  But this year the four children’s books I seriously disliked (come to my next Kidlit Drink Night and I’ll tell you what they were) got nada.  Zip.  Zero.  Zilch.  I’m in heaven.

For a laugh and a giggle you can check out my last round of predictions of what would win this year.  In the end I successfully named the Caldecott winner (though I said it would be an Honor), a Newbery Honor (though I said it would be a winner) and some other random books.  In the end, however, predictions were useless this year.  And that’s just the way I like it.

About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. 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 EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. Glad you enjoyed it and hope the sonogram was even more exciting!

    • Elizabeth Bird says

      The sonogram was, of course, the highlight of my day. I’ve got a kid who likes to continually high-five. Boo-yah!

  2. What? No Honor books listed under the Printz?

    • Elizabeth Bird says

      Sorry, Mr. Gill, but I’m stretching things by listing one Printz Honor as it is. And heck, the only reason I mentioned that one is because I was forced to read it because I had to conduct a panel with the author. Let that be a lesson to YA authors everywhere: If you want to make someone read your book, make them a moderator.

  3. I think I like Wild Card years too! Watching the announcements was fun, shouting predictions at my computer screen and then getting it mostly wrong (except for the Geisels–so thrilled about Bink and Gollie!). I agree with you, ALA should give an award for graphic novels.

  4. My predictions were all wrong this year, but this morning sure was interesting! “Moon Over Manifest” just jumped to the top of my to-read pile, for sure.

  5. I am pretty sure the Steads are in Ann Arbor.

  6. Judy Zuckerman says

    I always enjoy reading your comments, Betsy! The fabulous 2011 Caldecott Committee had some difficult decisions to make in a year of many, many terrific books. I just want to point out that all the best illustrators do not live in Brooklyn ;-)Erin Stead lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

  7. Ann Arbor’s good — two hours from Kala,azoo!

  8. Elizabeth Bird says

    Huh. Her blog does indeed list her as Ann Arbor. Now why did I think they were in Brooklyn? Well, in any case I’ll go change that note. Still . . . . odd . . .

  9. Bridget Heos says

    Yay for Kakapo Rescue! Even a kid who isn’t necessarily a science fan or nonfiction fan would like this book. And those baby parrots are so doggone stinkin’ cute!

  10. I’ve been cheering for Amos McGee (and Elisha Cooper’s Farm) since I read them – I let out a yelp of glee when it won! Sad that Keeper, which I loved, wasn’t among the honors of the Newbery, but I’m excited to read Moon over Manifest. It’s my first year watching, but I think I’ll like the wild card years too!

  11. Judy Zuckerman says

    It’s perfectly understandable, Betsy. The outdated info on the publisher website and Amazon says she divides her time between Brooklyn and Ann Arbor.

  12. What a great day! Good laughs there, Betsy! Glad to hear the wee birdie is doing well. Slap me 5!

  13. I think they moved recently, but don’t quote me on that.

  14. Betsy: DUH. From my very own blog: That was my second Amos McGee post from the year, and I forgot that Erin says right there that were once in Brooklyn.

    I blame insufficient coffee today.

  15. …that THEY were once in Brooklyn. See? I can’t even type.

  16. I was thrilled to see Dark Emperor get a nod! I was also pretty shocked that Interrupting Chicken got an honor, but my students set me straight — “Of COURSE it would get an award, Miz Houghton, it’s funny and has good art like Lane Smith and Jon Scieszka.” We read it again today in class as a celebration. “Miz Houghton, you were totally like the little red chicken when you read with your dad, weren’t you?”

    What are your thoughts on why Art and Max weren’t included for anything? I feel like it was an episode of Dancing with the Stars where everyone assumes they will at least be in the running so no one calls into the show to vote and then they get booted off in the results show.

    Also, huzzah for Michigan! (Although of course I’ll root for East Lansing over Ann Arbor…)

    • Elizabeth Bird says

      I sort of mentioned my thoughts on Wiesner in my predictions, and I think I was right about that one. I spoke to a fair number of Wiesner fans and they were just not connecting emotionally to Art & Max. I can’t explain it, really. It’s one of those strange gut reactions people have to a book that sort of determine whether it lives or dies. In this particular case, it died. Fear not. I suspect he has more awards left in him.

  17. I loved your long round-up of all the surprises. I could only manage to make it through the Newbery and Caldecott before my head cold forced me away from the computer and back to the tissue box where I belonged. It was certainly an interesting selection of books. Esp in the Newbery where so many books were tossed around as contenders that didn’t make the list. I don’t dislike the individual books that won Newbery – heck, I haven’t read half of them – but as a list it’s kind of weak. Four of the five are historical fiction, three of those are girls, and two of those are set in the Depression. I know that the committee doesn’t look at the list as a consideration, but it still bothers me.

    I’m also disappointed that the Caldecott committee only choose two honors books with so many fantastic possibilities. But am please that two of the books are on the Cybils finalists list.

  18. A great list but I was surprised Forge by Laurie Anderson was overlooked. Was it because Chains won last year? Or can only so much greatness be bestowed upon one person? Otherwise, I was so happy with the diversity of titles here!

    • Elizabeth Bird says

      Alas, Greg, Chains never won anything Newbery-wise. I suspect the sequel got overlooked simply because it was that – a sequel.

      Now MotherReader says that three of the books star girls, but in fact Heart of a Samurai is all about a boy. Certainly all the authors were girls, though. But that’s fairly common. And historical tends to trump contemporary. I would have liked Keeper to get some serious notice (it was contemporary) but sometimes that’s the way the cookie crumbles. And with two of the books about folks other than white girls, that’s not half bad for a Newbery year at all.

      Caldecotts were few and far between last year too. I had hoped this year would turn that around, but ah well.

  19. And Kakapo Rescue? Kalamazoo. Just sayin’.

  20. There were four historical fiction titles, and three are about girls – Moon over Manifest, Turtle in Paradise, and One Crazy Summer – with one about a boy Heart of Samurai. Though, half of Moon is set in the past where boys are the main characters, so maybe that cancels itself out.

    The three girl books also have a similar set-up – poor kid (kids) sent to family (or sorts) who doesn’t want/know about them. They set about to explore and discover this new place to which they’ve been sent.

    Like I said, I can’t knock the specific titles, but I’m feeling that there should be room in the best books as chosen by the Newbery committee for more than one type of book.

  21. I was thrilled to see Tomie dePaola win the Wilder award… which is my favorite award. It isn’t controversial, as far as I can tell and is always well deserving.

    We can second guess the committees til we’re blue in the face, and I don’t think tears are necessary, these are good choices! Yesterday was the grand day for Children’s literature and I agree with Elizabeth. Wild card years are the best!

  22. Glad you mentioned Barry D’s award here!

  23. The problem with the Printz, in my opinion, is that they don’t recognize sci-fi/fantasy. Dystopian/futuristic stuff is as far as it’s gone to date. And since there are a multitude of great upper mg/YA books out there that are sci-fi/fantasy, I find that a real shame. Simply put, at the moment I don’t think it works to just say that the Printz will take care of it, because they haven’t demonstrated that they do actually take up the slack.

    My opinion, of course, and I’m newish to the whole debate, but I hate to see good books overlooked because they don’t fit into the “right” age bracket or genre.