Fuse #8

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The 2007 Award Season - My Take

Though I cannot speak on the Newbery, I can comment on the other award winners this season and my take on what did or did not catch various committee eyes. Roast 'em, tenderize 'em, down they go....

First things first.

What Won:
You've got your proper award going to Flotsam by Wiesner, and then your Honors to Moses by Weatherford & Nelson and Gone Wild by McLimans. Basically the word on the street (street = my office) this award season was that Flotsam seemed like a done deal. Wiesner, remember, has already won two Honors and two Awards proper in the past. Chalk up number three on the big board. This makes me wonder if he holds the record for most Caldecotts garnered. Anyone know? Personally, I did feel that Flotsam was his best work. Three Pigs, for all its charms, was a fine read but not what I'd call exemplary. So while I feel a little sad that someone new didn't get "The Call", at least the winner was entirely deserving.

With all the picture books I reviewed this year, it's funny that I never tossed in my two cents on either of the Honor books mentioned. I could've reviewed Moses at any time, but I was reluctant to do so. For me, Nelson has done his best work here. Nine times out of ten he's the guy they bring in when a celebrity has written a book and they need jaw-dropping illustrations to sell it to the public. So my hope was that with this kind of subject matter he'd get some much deserved attention. Personally, I felt the text was good but not great. The call and response with God worked with mixed success. So I held off reviewing the book until I got a chance to better organize my thoughts. Now it has an Honor and I'm no closer to figuring out whether the text deserved Nelson's images. As for Gone Wild, the first place I saw this book was in the gift shop of an arboretum. It was a late 2006 release and missed most of the Best Book lists for that very reason. I'll need to give it another glance when I've a chance.

What Should've Won (should've is not a word, but I'm inordinately fond of it, so it stays):
I really felt that McClintock's Adele and Simon was her best chance at grabbing the committee's eye this year. I'm a fan of her work, a sentiment not universally shared I see. Also, Rex's Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich was SADLY lacking here. I'd heard some people say that the Caldecott would never go to something that edgy and ... well, fun, but I thought it had a fighting chance. And of course there was that crazy fantasy I had where When You Were Small got some much-deserved notice, but that was my private dark horse hope.

Coretta Scott King Author Award
What Won:
The very YA Copper Sun by Draper won proper with Nikki Grimes' The Road to Paris sweeping the Honor. Not many Honors this year, I see. But then, we knew that didn't we? I read Copper Sun and thought it entirely deserving of the award. Still, I could switch it with Road to Paris and not be the least bit upset. Both were great reading. Maybe since I'm a children's librarian I would have liked Grimes to get the number one spot, but that's just me.

What Should've Won:
These. No debate. Best choices, bar none.

Corretta Scott King Illustrator Award
What Won:
Moses, and rightfully so. Honors went to Jazz by Walter Dean Myers and Poetry for Young People by Benny Andrews. I couldn't argue with the Moses win. And I was pleased to see Jazz, as I considered that a particularly fabulous looking tasty treat. But where on earth did this Poetry book come from? Have you seen it? I certainly haven't. Is it YA? The press was Sterling, a company that I admittedly don't see all that much of. Still, I suspect that Mr. Andrews is very very pleased these days.

What Should've Won:
Again, I brook no contest. These were great picks. I must defer to their judgment Poetry-for-Young-People-wise.

The Michael L. Printz Award
What Won:
THE BEST DAMN BOOK THAT COULD'VE WON, THAT'S WHO!!!! Did anyone happen to catch the live webcast of the award ceremony? Cause when they announced American Born Chinese you can probably see me, front and center, leaping into the air in an expression of complete and utter delight. Such a remarkable and wonderful choice. I was thrilled to my core to hear it. The honors sported a few surprises as well. Sure, we all knew Octavian Nothing would get a mention. Ditto The Book Thief. I probably wouldn't have predicted An Abundance of Katherines off the top of my head, but I was happy with the win. You've all seen it already, I'm sure, but faithful self-documentarian John Green can be seen live and on the phone accepting the call. I'm a little jealous of the Printz committee as a result. Not only do they get to call at night, but they get to say, "You fucking won", which (let's face it) is exactly what I would love to tell people when they get great big awards. John's surprise caught me off-guard, though. I mean, he won the Printz Award already. Was it such a shock to get an Honor next? Guess so. Surrender by Sonya Hartnett is unknown to me, and I didn't remember seeing it mentioned by any of the YA bloggers in the past. A little help, people?

What Should've Won:
Debates on this topic will fly fast and furious. Personally, I had hoped that King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner and A True and Faithful Narrative by Katherine Sturtevant deserved some notice. I wonder if they were seriously considered.

The Mildred L. Batchelder Award
What Won:
The Pull of the Ocean which everyone says is fabulous. I was a little surprised to see The Last Dragon mentioned (though it did appear on the Horn Book Fanfare list this year), but had heard of The Killer's Tears before. But since I wasn't allowed to read any of these, I haven't any opinion on them.

What Should've Won:
It seems to me that The Book of Everything done got shafted, to put it plain. That's one book I devoured before joining Newbery, and I loved it. The problem with the book is that it's difficult to figure out whether or not to put it on YA or children's booklists, since the subject matter is advanced and the characters young. This would not have been a problem for the Batchelder Award since they don't split their categories into old and young, and yet it does not appear. A large hole indeed.

The Theodor Seuss Geisel Beginning Reader Award
What Won:
Zelda and Ivy: The Runaways, apparently. I was seated next to someone who knew the author personally and was thrilled at the announcement. I've not seen any of this series yet myself, so I'm excited to give it a glance when I get back to work (Thursday). Then there was Move Over, Rover (again, I feel out of touch), Mercy Watson Goes for a Ride (well done there), and the delightful little Not a Box. I was just pleased as punch to see it included. I'd thought it might make a good Geisel book when I first read it, but the thought slipped my brain months ago.

What Should've Won:
Well, I'm fond of Not a Box and wouldn't have minded if it got the Award proper, but that's okay. And Aggie and Ben wouldn't have been out of place here. Ah well.

The Robert F. Siebert Informational Book Award
What Won:
Another loud hoot came from the audience when I saw Team Moon had won won WON WON! I'm so incredibly happy to hear that. Such a great, engaging, interesting book. Fun to read and the most deserving win of the Siebert I've seen in years. Just a great pick all around. Nice to see that Montgomery hit it out of the park again with Quest for the Tree Kangaroo. Keep this up and they'll soon start renaming it the Montgomery Award. I was pleased too to see Freedom Riders (not to be confused with Freedom Walkers). No doubt that the Siebert was one of the most satisfying categories to hear about. When I saw that To Dance had won, I was truly thrilled. A graphic novel Honor. Has it ever been done before? This was a day of GN firsts, both completely and utterly deserving.

What Should've Won:
Nuthin'. Well, maybe 5,000 Miles to Freedom by the Fradins wouldn't have been a bad choice. That's just such a fun book. I was hoping it might get a mention somewhere.

Andrew Carnegie Medal
What Won:
Also known as the Weston Woods Award. Not that Knuffle Bunny didn't deserve to win, but just tally exactly how many times anyone else has won that particular medal.

What Should've Won:
Video? Not my bag, baby. Perhaps we could turn this into a Book Trailer Award in the future?

Schneider Family Book Awards
What Won:
I was obviously pleased as punch to see Rules by Cynthia Lord get a mention. As for the other two books (the picture and the teen) I was curious. What's the consensus on The Deaf Musicians? I believe it was well-reviewed by and large, but I'd be interested in thoughts on the matter. Small Steps earned its mention, if only because the presenter did a double take at the word "Armpit" when she read the book summary aloud. It's hard to beat a character named Armpit, I tell ya.

What Should've Won:
A pity they don't do honors. I wouldn't have minded mentions of Hurt Go Happy by Ginny Rorby or Singing Hands by Delia Ray.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal
What Won:
James Marshall. Roger Sutton's thoughts on the matter are far crisper than my own.

What Should've Won:
James Marshall. Hands down great choice.

Margaret A. Edwards Award:
What Won:
Lois Lowry for The Giver. I think I speak for everyone as a whole when I say, "She didn't win it for that book yet?" That'd be a fun award committee to be on, don't you think? And check out their past winners. If you're building a school library, this would be the list I'd use to fill your shelves.

Everything else I haven't an opinion on. David Macaulay won a lecture thingy? Cool beans. Adult books that won Alex Awards? Hon, I haven't read an adult book in months. It's all good.

By the way, I would like to thank you all for continuing to visit this blog in my absence. My stats hardly fell a jot while I was in Seattle, and Technorati informs me that 171 people now link here. I deeply appreciate it.


At 1:02 AM , Blogger Don Tate II said...

Benny Andrews died toward the end of last year, so maybe...

Anyway, I think his work is odd, but in a very beautiful kind of way. I think it's a great choice. I purchased the Langston Hughes poetry book at last year's ALA because his art caught my eye. Did they give an award for the John Steptoe new talent? I'm always sorry when they don't.

At 1:17 AM , Blogger Morwen said...

To be honest I was really disappointed that The King of Attolia didn't get anything (I'm a big fan of Megan Whalen Turner) but oh well, thems the breaks. I'm sure all of the books that won were very deserving. ^_^

At 7:28 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure that Marcia Brown is the only other three-time Caldecott winner -- for Cinderella, Once A Mouse, and Shadow.

At 9:00 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I totally agreed about American Born Chinese - so deserving, so awesome.

Jules reviewed Surrender here if you're curious:


At 10:30 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes! I thought it was too much to hope for that American Born Chinese would win, but I had my fingers crossed. Thanks for these thoughts, Betsy. Do you have any opinion on whether there can be too many silver medals for these awards? There is a friendly difference of opinion in my writing group.

At 10:39 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, I reviewed Surrender here. One of the first posts I did on our blog when it was all fledgling. Hartnett is one of my very favorite authors. Very happy she got an Honor. Liz at A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy also reviewed it fairly recently. Hit her search box on her blog, and you will find it. She enjoyed it, too.

At 10:42 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, and I enjoyed The Deaf Musicians (here). Glad to see it get some attention.

At 10:48 AM , Blogger Unknown said...

Of course, The Last Dragon is also a finalist for the Cybils fantasy and science fiction award. ;-) It's a delightful book and I was thrilled to see it as a Batchelder honor book.

At 12:18 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe the Printz committee got to say that they were "fugging" serious that John Green won--the word Collin and Hassan use endlessly in the book--which is still pretty cool.

At 5:12 PM , Blogger Saints and Spinners said...

I was thrilled about Team Moon. As far as reviewing goes, I'm DONE with fantasy and just beginning to gobble down good narrative non-fiction.


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