It’s time to predict the American Library Association’s children’s literature awards, a task we take on with enthusiasm every year (irrespective of our track record)!
Lisa and I agree that the most likely winner of the Caldecott Award for best picture book is Marla Frazee’s poignant THE FARMER AND THE CLOWN. Or perhaps MY GRANDFATHER’S COAT (written by Jim Aylesworth and illustrated by Barbara McClintock) will get the nod. We both loved Oliver Jeffers’ ONCE UPON AN ALPHABET, an amusing collection of 26 short stories based on letters of the alphabet – but will the awards jury?
The Newbery Medal for “the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children” (more simply, the year’s best chapter book or novel) also has a front runner this year: the beautifully-written verse memoir BROWN GIRL DREAMING by Jacqueline Woodson. Our personal favorite, however, is another story written in verse: THE CROSSOVER by Kwame Alexander. And there is a third verse tale in contention: THE RED PENCIL by Andrea Davis Pinkney. Not to be ignored are two additional nonfiction candidates: THE FAMILY ROMANOV, a historical page-turner by Candace Fleming, and EL DEAFO, Cece Bell’s graphic memoir of her childhood, which was shaped by a severe loss of hearing at age 4.
The Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature has at least three likely contenders: I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN, an intense novel about teen twins and the artistic life by Jandy Nelson; GRASSHOPPER JUNGLE, a crazy but appealing mashup of 1950s science fiction and coming-of-age themes by Andrew Smith; and THIS ONE SUMMER, a subtle and superbly drawn graphic novel by the Tamaki sisters, about the summer two young girls are forced to grow up. We loved (or at least liked...) them all.
February 2 is the day of the awards ceremony. Are there surprises in store? Check back next week!