Wednesday, January 16, 2008

The Best of the Best!

Okay, so it's been a little while. But I'm back in 2008... and feeling the need to share some of children's literature's best!

In big "library world" news, Monday was the announcement of the American Library Association's Youth Media Awards, which are often referred to as "the Academy Awards of children's books". There's the John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children's literature, the Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children, the Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults, the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for the outstanding book for beginning readers and the Alex Awards for the best adult books that appeal to teen audiences. I admit, I woke up early Monday morning, just to ensure I would get one of the limited number of live webcasts for the announcement. It's a bit of a personal challenge for children's librarians to already have the winners in the collection at the time the announcements are made. I am happy to report we had all Newbery and Caldecott medal and honor books, and most of the rest!

So what were the winners? Good Masters, Sweet Ladies by Laura Amy Schlitz won the Newbery and The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick won the Caldecott. I actually read The Invention of Hugo Cabret in two days just last week, and I have to say, it was amazing! Completely original. Two days for the medal winner for best picture book, you wonder? That's the big news... the Caldecott usually goes to a picture book, which is on average 20-40 pages and has a minimal amount of text. The Invention of Hugo Cabret, at a whopping 533 pages, is a mixture of text, drawings by the author, and still images from the beginning of the film industry. And the amazing thing is that it switches between all three media seamlessly! It immediately became a favorite of mine (hard to do when I read literally hundreds of children's books a year!), both for the orginality AND the story of Hugo Cabret. I can't do it justice. Just know you don't need to be a kid to appreciate this story! So I'm surprised, yet thrilled it won!

So in addition to these awards, I wanted to share three authors with you who I like to call the "triumvirate of picture book authors". These men are my favorite. I've never met any of them (but will soon!) but will buy anything they ever write and I recommend them all the time! Jarrett J. Krosoczka, who wrote Punk Farm, Mo Willems of Pigeon and Knuffle Bunny fame, and Jon Scieszka, who wrote about the stinky cheese man and Time Warp Trio. Look at Punk Farm's "Farmspace" profile, check out Willem's blog, and just peruse Scieszka's entire website... particularly hysterical are his bio and FAQ pages! These men are equally capable of talking to a room full of professionals and parents as they are capturing the attention of a bunch of preschoolers! And yes, I can spell each of their names from memory ;)

Here ends the "best of the best" (in my humble opinion)... I guess I've done the overdone "look back on the previous year" thing. But trust me on the Krosoczka, Willems, Scieszka thing!! That'll make up for the boringness of the rest!

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