This is it! The big day! Forget the Superbowl, or rather, picture a Superbowl with authors and illustrators, only they probably wouldn’t be wearing those odd uniforms… Anyway, this morning the American Library Association announced their annual children’s book awards. Here are some of the highlights. To see the entire list, read this ALA press release. (And join me in wondering why the knowledgeable librarians put the book titles in quote marks rather than in italics. Perhaps they don’t trust reporters?)
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
The talking gorilla takes the prize! This was not an easy premise to pull off, but the accolades started pouring in early on and haven’t stopped. Plus, I will just mention that at this moment, the book is #13 on Amazon’s sales ranking list. I am embarrassed to say that The One and Only Ivan is still on my TBR list, but I will read it soon, I promise.
Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz
I actually just read this last week and was wowed. Intense, wonderful storytelling with depth of character and strange surprises. Kind of dark, though, so I’d say 10 and up.
Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin
My mom is a huge nonfiction fan and I gave her this one for Christmas. It’s on my TBR pile, but I will tell you she’s picking it for her book club next go-round. She also loved Sheinkin’s books The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism, and Treachery and King George: What Was His Problem? (The Whole Hilarious Story of the American Revolution). I’ve read the latter, and it’s fantastic—and truly funny. Steve Sheinkin makes a whole new thing out of nonfiction. You should know that Bomb won the Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award and the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults as well, for a triple whammy. Arguably the best book of 2012.
Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage
Here’s my review (scroll down). I thought this was a fun book, but I wasn’t as enchanted by it as the committee clearly was. Great voice and characters, definitely! A rollicking Southern tale.
This Is Not My Hat, illustrated and written by Jon Klassen
What we might call a companion book to last year’s I Want My Hat Back, this one is set under the ocean and has the same conciseness, brash style, and grimly humorous conclusion. The artwork is hard to describe—I guess I would say that it’s spare, deliberately flat, and very distinct. Take a look! Oh, and note that Klassen accomplished something that has got to be a first: He won the Caldecott Medal and a Caldecott Honor in the same year! (Here's a link to the book trailer.) Oh, just found out that Leonard Weisgard won both the Caldecott and an Honor in 1947. Not a common occurrence, obviously!
Caldecott Honor (Yes, there are 5 of them)
Creepy Carrots! illustrated by Peter Brown, written by Aaron Reynolds
One of the things I like best about this one is that it has the look of an old black-and-white horror film—relieved only by bright, not pumpkin, but carrot orange. The story is cute, but the illustrations are stunning. Such a fresh take on the Halloween book.
Extra Yarn, illustrated by Jon Klassen, written by Mac Barnett
I reviewed this as a picture book to look forward to, and I’ve been rooting for it to get the Caldecott Medal or an Honor ever since. Klassen’s deadpan illustrative style meshes perfectly with Barnett’s deadpan approach to storytelling—and to make that mix into a modern fairy tale involving knitting? Bliss!
Green, illustrated and written by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
I loved this one so much that I wrote my review last July as a set of brief poems. Non-artists tend not to see the world the same way artists do, but in this book, Laura lends us her vision of just one color. It should change the way we see all colors. This would have been my other pick for the Caldecott Medal (along with Extra Yarn).
One Cool Friend, illustrated by David Small, written by Toni Buzzeo
The artwork in this book reminds me a tiny bit of Hilary Knight’s Eloise, but then, David Small’s art has its own unique look. The story of a boy who winds up hanging out with a penguin, and why not? As Booklist puts it, the artwork is “black-and-white line illustrations with pops of soft color.” Lovely stuff, and a gently funny book.
Sleep Like a Tiger, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski, written by Mary Logue
I haven’t read this, but a quick look on Amazon made me want it. It’s illustrated by a woman whose artwork won a previous Caldecott Honor in 2010, for Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors by Joyce Sidman. Another artist with an unusual, memorable, and appealing style.
I mostly read Young Adult fantasy, so I’ve only read one of the Printz Award and Honors books. Here’s the list—and my note about the book I did read.
In Darkness by Nick Lake
Dodger by Terry Pratchett
This book is by one of my favorite authors, and I reviewed it when it came out. Pratchett takes one of Charles Dickens’ most intriguing characters and gives him his own story, imbuing it with that Victorian Horatio Alger feel that characterizes many of Dickens’ books. A terrific adventure in the sewers and grand houses of London.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
The White Bicycle by Beverley Brenna
Remember to read the entire awards list! As Jules of Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast pointed out a few days ago, it was a year of wild cards. But, as always, the ALA committee has come up with a carefully fine-tuned list of read-worthy books.