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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Fusenews: Newbery Fallout

Oh sure, it may seem like everyone’s all smiles and happiness after the recent announcements of the ALA Media awards, but don’t be fooled.  There’s definitely a deep discord of discontent out there.  Funny thing is, it has nothing to do with the books and everything to do with the day after the awards.  For the past eleven years the winners of the Newbery and the Caldecott Awards have gone on The Today Show to speak with the folks there for roughly 15 seconds.  It’s not a big spot, but it’s the only time the nation gets to really hear about these books and it’s important.  This year . . . well, you may have seen the headlines.  Monica Edingers’ Did Snooki Bump Children’s Book Award Winners From the Today Show?
was my personal favorite.  Since that post the details have been released.  According to the SLJ article ‘Today Show’ Snubs 2011 Caldecott, Newbery Winners, The Today Show gave the excuse that they were all booked up for the week thanks to the aforementioned Snooki.  Said their publicist, ” ‘The Internet rumors insinuating that we ‘bumped’ the Newbery and Caldecott winners for a segment with Snooki, that we ‘passed up’ the winners for Snooki, or that there was a ‘lack of interest’ in the winners, are totally false,” says Megan Kopf, publicist for the Today Show, in an email. ‘Snooki was booked on Today before the winners were even pitched to us’.”  If by “pitched” they mean “were told” then that’s really no excuse since for the past eleven years none of this was a surprise to The Today Show.

I’ve seen folks on Twitter questioning why anyone’s upset since it’s not like other TV networks do anything for children’s literature.  All true, but The Today Show really is one of the few networks to give books for kids some cred.  Al’s Book Club for Kids may have its flaws, but Mr. Roker does an awesome job of showing new books and kids reading.  One would think there’d be some spillover into other aspects of the show like, say, a mere 30 seconds dedicated to the most highly regarded award for children’s books and their writing and art.  Instead, bupkiss.

  • SCBWI had an excellent response of its own, printing the letter it sent to NBC as well as various news outlets.  It even mentioned the 90-Second Newbery Film Festival, which was good timing.   Seriously though, when all is said and done I think YA author and 90-Second Newbery creator James Kennedy put it best when he commented, “You are all going to be so embarrassed when next year’s Newbery goes to Snooki.”
  • That was gossipy.  Let’s scale it back a notch then.  There were some delightful wrap-ups of the Newbery winners, but to my (perhaps biased but nonetheless accurate) mind none really can compare with those produced by my fellow bloggers/co-writers.  First off, Peter at Collecting Children’s Books reveals how he managed to sway the winners with his sleeping arrangements.  Aside from that he also discovers that one of the winners was the youngest person on record to ever get that award, reveals that this is the FIRST TIME the Newbery and Caldecott Awards have both gone to debuts, and then crunches some amusing numbers.  Then over at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast you will see Jules cover the Caldecott winner like no other blog is even capable.  Three words: Original wordless scans.  Also check out the sketches Jules got pictures of from some of the other winners as well.  Wow.
  • Displeased with the actual winners?  Then take a trip over to The Lemme Library where you can see what won in the Bizarro World of ALA Winners.  Bizarro and the Newbery in one place at one time?  Pinch me, I’m dreaming.
  • Speaking of news, GalleyCat was kind enough to report on my last Children’s Literary Salon involving horror in middle grade novels.  Yay, blood and guts!
  • Not long ago I wrote an article for SLJ on children’s picture book apps.  Kirkus (who I actually review for) has now gotten on board and has gone so far as to star five such apps.  I agree with all their choices, save maybe one.  While I was amused by the What Does My Teddy Bear Do All Day? app, I pointed out in my article that the plethora of games actually distract you quite a lot from the text, making for a less than ideal reading situation.  One wonders of Kirkus took this into consideration.
  • Oh, goody goody goody.  The Battle of the Kids Books is gearing up and I cannot wait.  Last year the final honor almost went to one of my favorite books of the year (The Lost Conspiracy) and I cannot WAIT to see what goes down this year.  Maybe A Tale Dark and Grimm will finally have its day?  It all depends on what gets nominated.  We shall see . . .

Random Movie News:  Well, that’s a doozy.  Apparently Debra Granik, the director of the highly applauded and lauded film Winter’s Bone has turned her sights upon adapting Pippi Longstocking to the big screen.  This A.V. Club article on the adaptation is amusing, if only because the author Sean O’Neal clearly knows his Pippi.  How else would he be aware of the suitcase full of gold coins?

I’ve been watching the career of comic artist Kate Beaton closely the last few years.  I knew she had moved to New York and I knew the various publishers were courting her heavily.  Now the dust has cleared and Drawn & Quarterly is the winner.  D&Q will be publishing a Hark, A Vagrant book this fall for one and all to see.  I’m a little disappointed that the love didn’t fall to something like First Second, but I hold out hope that someday Beaton will do something on the children’s side of things.  Failing that I’ll just start courting Allie Brosh instead.

  • Okay, let’s talk diversity in children’s literature.  There’s a new site in town, and it’s looking to expand your horizons a bit.  Meet Diversity in YA.  Covering middle grade and YA books (so the title is a bit misleading) here’s some basic info on the folks behind it via their press release:

“Founded by two YA authors, Cindy Pon (Silver Phoenix, Fury of the Phoenix) and Malinda Lo (Ash, Huntress), Diversity in YA seeks to bring attention to MG and YA books featuring people of color and LGBT characters. We envision DIYA as a positive, friendly gathering of readers and writers who want to see diversity in their fiction. Every week on our website we’ll be featuring books that include diversity, from realistic, contemporary novels to absorbing historical and adventurous fantasy.”

Head on over and check up the hugely impressive line-up they have going on.  Wowzer.  I’ll be keeping a close eye on these folks and the books they mention in the coming year.

  • Daily Image:

I don’t usually show book covers here but the paperback of Mare’s War by Tanita S. Davis clinched it:

Dang.  That’s a nice cover.  Gutsy too.

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. So bummed about the Today Show. I hope they find some way to interview the winners soon.

    DIYA sounds awesome, and so does the 90-Second Newbery! Thanks for being such a good source of news.

  2. David Elzey actually wrote ( a letter to the show congratulating them for doing nothing, because to his mind, their five or ten minutes of ill-informed fumbling is actually worse than no mention at all.

    Don’t know if I agree.

    I wish that the media outlets WOULD celebrate books with us. We went to Iceland over the holidays and do you know they have something they call jólabókaflóð — which is the Christmas Book Flood. Right before the holidays, the publishing houses have major releases which are discussed on the news and radio talk shows. There’s a HUGE buzz, and books are the Numero Uno gift for Christmas (and Dec. 26 is set aside to read and eat chocolate. Do you not want to live there now? It’s at least good for a visit; four hours from NY!). An entire country actually makes a point of CARING about books. Could we perhaps try that on a smaller scale in the U.S.?? What would it hurt???

  3. Yes, I like my “insinuating” ways,

    Regarding that Chicago Tribune pic, between Walter and Barry are Nancy Werlin and Jennifer Richard Jacobson. Obscured by Barry’s mad clapping hands is Lynn Rutan. Next to her is Cindy Dobrez and then me (which is why I am so sure of the line-up).

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      I shall now refer to you solely by the moniker The Insinuator from hereon in. Consider it your superhero name. And Mr. Elzey’s letter is indeed amusing. Thanks for that, Tanita.

  4. Why would they ever have to call the Today Show to pitch the winners? The ALA Awards are a scheduled event. The Today Show should automatically hold a slot open.

    So I have a suggestion. Agents who handle picture books should contact Snooki.
    She can write her PB in the spring. Then they can hold the slot open six months in advance.

  5. after seeing all the fallout over the today show thing i’ve been half wondering if they didn’t do it to gauge the response. after 11 years they might have wondered if, indeed, anyone cared. or perhaps because of al roker’s raised profile on kidlit (which i forgot about) they figured they had their bases covered and didn’t think the loss of the ala winners was a big deal.

    once the noise got to the point where people were tweeting and retweeting the snub and the today show’s email address i felt like things were getting a little shrill. i started feeling sorry for that poor intern whose job it was to filter through the emails and keep a tally of the responses and make a general report to their boss. “gee, seems like some people are upset about this thing…”

    but the last time i saw the today show do a segment on the ala winners each author was given about 30 seconds to talk and the hosts spoke more than the guests. i felt frustration on behalf of the authors at not being able to do more than smile and nod and answer a non-substantive question about my book, which they haven’t read.

    as to the point where ms. davis might not agree with my thinking that no coverage is better than crappy coverage, wel, of course i would have rather they did the segment because i know that any media exposure means sales for an author. i just don’t happen to think their coverage of the awards is that great and perhaps we ought to push for more. is there any way to make the anticipation about the awards reach oscar fever pitch?

    • Elizabeth Bird says:

      Seems to me the best way to reach an “Oscar fever pitch” would consist simply of a pre-Media Award segment on the show about the possible winners. That way the show would reach a wide swath of authors and illustrators rather than just two. Then when the winners spoke the Today Show could bring in some hand-picked “expert” who could interview them for a bit. Roker was the closest thing they had in the past, but bring in an outsider! Bring in someone who has actually (god forbid) READ the books!

  6. They should just have the Newbery and Caldecott Medal winners on TV and ditch the ALA representative, who, really, is just one more person clogging up the set and slows down the segment. And publicists should give the winners some quickie media training before going on TV! Did you see the 2009 coverage? The Newbery winner actually ROLLED HER EYES when an overly- nervous Ann Curry held up a newspaper photo of her taken right after she heard she’d won.

  7. Thanks for the shout-out to DIYA! We’re looking forward to putting some diversity in ya. *collective groans*

  8. Is it possible that the Today Show wasn’t expecting the awards to be so early in January? If it was held a week later like usual, maybe the space would have been there. Why didn’t ALA pitch another day? The next day is great, but there’s no time limit on when people should hear about the winners! They will still be here next week or the week after.

  9. I was definitely disappointed that the winners weren’t on the Today Show, but ALA should have diversified its TV presence by now. There are several other outlets that cover books. For instance, I don’t remember the last time a children’s author was on Book Tv – a much smaller audience, I know, but still, the show has book in the title!

  10. LOVE that new cover for Mare’s War! Wow! I hope we can get some paperbacks for the library — I think that new cover is much more enticing.

  11. I only wish I could collect the 20 points for not knowing who Snooki is, but I live at the Jersey Shore! (a very nice place, sans Snooki, BTW)

  12. Kristi Hazelrigg says:

    Jólabókaflóð?! Outstanding! Thanks to Tanita, I now want to move to Iceland.

  13. In the Trib pic, that’s half of my face in a rather horrifying gasp behind Walter’s head, and fellow Charlesbridgian Donna Spurlock to my left.

  14. hmmm…an expert that lives in NYC and has read some well written middle grade books….uh…who should they choose?

  15. I had to Google “Snooki” yesterday. I thought maybe it was an advertisement for a candy bar.

    That cover of Mare’s War is stunning. I MUST find a copy and start reading ASAP…..just need to finish Shiver first (I know, I am sloooooow with the books. But I get ’em done.) 🙂

  16. The Battle of the Kids Books can’t come soon enough!! I love following the battle week-by-week. I just wish that the list of contenders came out sooner so that I could try to read them all before the battle begins!!

    Mare’s War cover: Stunning.

  17. We are just waiting for the go-ahead to announce the contenders for this year’s Battle of the Kids Books. Should be soon, soon, soon as we too want to give folks a chance to get them read before the Battle begins. For a very broad hint, all the contenders (among other favorites of mine from 2010) are here:

  18. I wanted to thank you for linking to my blog post! Check out the updates I posted- I got 2 very nice emails from the winners of the Bizzaro Newbery- consider them acceptance speeches! I even got a comment from Kirby Larson- Kirby Larson! Thanks to everyone for visiting!

  19. I was FaceBooking the snub pretty much from the beginning, before Monica’s piece on Huffington or Lin Oliver’s letter.

    But when someone responding to my posts suggested that we get someone to do the entire N/C announcements, like the Oscar , I had to laugh. I said: We are hardly fashionistas. Most of us would look lousy in ball gowns and that only Nancy Werlin’s famous red dress and Lee Bennett Hopkins purple jacket even came close to Red Carpet looks. (Though I bet Walter the Giant looks dashing in a tux.)


  20. Bob the Skull says:

    Is DIYA a pun on Día? If so, not bad!