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February 2006

Caldecott and Newbery Awards Announced

The American Library Association was full of announcements today. See also Publishers Weekly for an easily accessible roundup.

The Caldecott medal for most distinguished American picture book went to Chris Raschka, for his art work in The Hello, Goodbye Window. (Editor's note: Yippee!) Norton Juster (of The Phantom Tollbooth fame) is the author of The Hello, Goodbye Window.

The Newbery medal for outstanding contribution to children's literature is Criss Cross, a novel by Lynn Rae Perkins.

Henry and Mudge and the Great Grandpas, written by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Sucie Stevenson,  claimed the brand new Dr. Seuss prize for  beginner readers.

The Pritz prize for young-adult lit went to Looking for Alaska, by John Green.

The Coretta Scott King (author) award went to Julius Lester for Day of Tears: A Novel in Dialogue; the CSK (illustrator) prize was snapped up by Bryan Collier for Rosa, which Nikki Giovanni wrote.

Raúl Colón took home the Pura Belpré (illustrator) medal for Doña Flor: A Tall Tale About a Giant Woman with a Big Heart, written by Pat Mora, while The Tequila Worm, by Viola Canales, won the author medal in the same category (Latino writing, Latino experiece).

See the ALA or PW for additional prizes. I also hope to post about the Caldecott and Newbery runners up (i.e., honors) soon.

Eric Carle Museum

The New York Times packs up the car and heads to the Eric Carle museum, in Amherst, Mass. Rogert Mummert writes,

At most museums, children racing through halls or sitting smack in the middle of a gallery floor might be cause for parental anxiety. But the rules for good behavior are different at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art... It celebrates children and youthful imagination as much as art.

The museum, along with the National Yiddish Book Center a few hundred yards away, forms the heart of Amherst's Cultural Village, set in an apple orchard adjoining the woodsy campus of Hampshire College, a liberal arts institution with about 1,400 students. For a family that loves books and art, it's an engaging place to spend a day.

Sounds like my kind of place! Read the whole article here; you'll need to register for the Times.

Plea to the American Library Association

Dear American Library Association,

remember when I wrote you about the Caldecotts and Newberys a few weeks ago?

I didn't think so.

It's nice that your first item on your home page  is about a new button to pin on one's lapel, but many of us  have a bigger interest in your upcoming awards.

On your home page, would you please put up a link today for the Caldecott and Newbery prizes? Right now information on those two awards, including the date they're given out, is difficult to find for the average reader. Such information should be front and center, clearly labeled with the words "Caldecott" and "Newbery." Please don't wait until Monday.

Here is what I can find, from a press release elsewhere on the ALA site:

For the first time ever, the American Library Association (ALA) will pilot a live Webcast of its national announcement of the top books and video for children and young adults - including the Caldecott, King, Newbery and Printz awards - on January 23 at 7:55 a.m. CST.   The award announcements are made as part of the ALA Midwinter Meeting, which will bring together more than 12,000 librarians, publishers, authors and guests in San Antonio from January 20 to 25.

Online visitors will be able to view the live Webcast the morning of the announcements by following the links that will be on the ALA home page,, and at High-speed access will be available on a first-come, first-served basis. For ALA Midwinter Meeting participants, the press conference will be held in the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center Ballroom C, and doors open at 7:30 a.m.

Thanks in advance.

Your Friend,
Chicken Spaghetti, library lover

If you want to tell me to "Sssssshhhhhhh,"  please use the comment section.

Lost in Zembla

So, what are the rest of you grown-ups reading? In between kids' books, I am slogging my way through Nabokov's Pale Fire. Seeing as how I loved Pnin, I expected to love Pale Fire, and, alas, I do not. Maybe the love will blossom once I am finished with Pale Fire. Sometimes that happens.  PF strikes me as alternately quite funny,  then mean, and then tedious. And the cycle repeats random order. If any of you are Pale Fire cheerleaders, please chime in and tell me your stories of wonder and amazement. 2-4-6-8, who do we appreciate? NAB-o-kov, na-BOK-ov!

On a break from  my trying excursions with Professor Kinbote and John Shade (see the above), I read Lily King's new novel, The English Teacher, which I highly recommend.  Hardy's novel Tess of the d'Urbervilles is central to the plot, which concerns a tightly wound high-school English teacher with a secret.

Review: Family Pictures, and Magic Windows

Family Pictures/Cuadros de Familia          
by Carmen Lomas Garza 
Children's Book Press, 1990, 2005                        
ISBN: 0-89239-206-1                                          

Magic Windows/Ventanas mágicas
by Carmen Lomas Garza 
Children's Book Press, 1999
ISBN: 0-89239-157-X

Children's Book Press recently published a 15th anniversary edition of Carmen Lomas Garza's Family Pictures. One of the San Francisco-based publisher's most popular titles, the bilingual picture book won a Pura Belpré honor some years ago for its art work.  (The Belpré awards are given biannually to Latino writers and illustrators.)

Garza paints vivid, colorful pictures of her growing-up years in South Texas and pays tribute to the closeness of her Mexican American family all along the way. Her style is in the folk-art tradition; think Grandma Moses meets Frida Kahlo. The text, taken from interviews with the artist, tells what is going on in each picture: the fair in Reynosa, picking oranges with grandparents, the birthday party complete with a piñata, a cakewalk (I remember cakewalks! I thought as I read about this one), making tamales, and more. Lots of details and lots of people populate each piece of art.

Having read both editions of Family Pictures (1990 and 2005), I note that the publisher has  made some nice improvements to an already-interesting book. The well-known author Sandra Cisneros wrote a new introduction, for one thing.  The colors are punched up, the page design is more attractive, and a wonderful painting of a quinciañera celebration is now included. (Quinciañeras are for girls' 15th birthdays.)

My first-grader liked Family Pictures, although he was content to hear it read aloud only once. I enjoyed leafing through it over and over. Both of us looked at another  book of Garza's, Magic Windows, with interest; in this one (which won the Belpré award), Garza uses papel picado, a traditional Mexican cut-paper art form, for the illustrations. (Her subjects here are Mexican traditions and  family life; again, Spanish and English text is on each page.)  Since we're big snowflake-cutting aficionados, I may order the companion workbook,  Making Magic Windows. Garza's books are sure to inspire art projects, as well as discussions about one's own family rituals.

Making a Difference

The newsletter from Lemuria Books, in Jackson, Miss., directed me to a new anthology: I Can Make a Difference: A Treasury to Inspire Our Children , compiled by Marian Wright Edelman and illustrated by Barry Moser.  Here is how Lemuria describes the book, which is for children aged 4 to 8.

What is your purpose in life? To please yourself? To please others? To be successful? To be happy? To serve God? Do you even know what it is? Many people say that their purpose in life is to make a difference- an impact. But how? When it comes to the "how-factor," so many people just do not know. "I Can Make A Difference" is a wonderful multi-cultural, life enriching collection of inspirational material for children. Teaching them ways to make a difference at an early age, it provides answers for that "how" question. Whether making a difference in your purpose or not, we could all stand to make an impact in today's world.

Edelman is, of course, the founder and president of  the Children's Defense Fund. You can read a poem of hers here, at Harper Children's, the publisher. She was also the first black woman admitted to the bar in Mississippi. Booklist calls I Can Make a Difference "a strong package that will lead to fruitful discussions between adults and children."

Esperanza in the Shadow of the Mouse

Orlando is reading Pam Muñoz Ryan's Esperanza Rising for its One Book One Community selection this year. Sara Isaac, of the Orlando Sentinel, spoke to the author:

Ryan says the themes of diversity and social justice that weave through much of her work reflect her cultural and family background. One of her grandmothers was from Oklahoma and the other from Mexico. Both sides of the family were farmworkers. Her mother was born in a segregated camp like the one described in Esperanza Rising.

"I am Latino. I am a woman. I am concerned with social justice and women's rights," Ryan says. But "I don't sit down to impart a message or a moral. My goal is that the reader wants to turn that page."

There's even a fan-fiction kind of contest as part of the One Book program, which the Sentinel is sponsoring. What if Esperanza moved to Florida?  Check it out

Happy Birthday, Dr. King

Have you read  Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.? Doreen Rappaport's grand picture book, with cool collage illustrations by Bryan Collier,  is just right for the six- to eight-year-old crowd.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., cared about all Americans. He cared about people all over the world. And people all over the world admired him. In 1964, he won the Nobel Peace Prize. He won it because he taught others to fight with words, not fists.

Happy Birthday, Dr. King. We miss you.