Friday, January 20, 2017

#ALAMW17 Caldecott and Printz Predictions

Dear Kim,

Focus on books.
Focus on books.
Look to ALA and focus on books.

That's my mantra today. Does it work for you too?

ALA Midwinter is a hive of book buzz right now with just a few days until the announcements of the annual ALA Youth Media awards.

It is an exciting time for the children's book world as we await to see if our favorites will wear foil seals. Award committees may miss one or two of our favorites, but overwhelmingly do a nice job of highlighting the very best in children's literature each year. 

What a task serving on such a committee must be, equal parts heavy responsibility and utter joy. I'm always pleased when the committees help me find new books to love, like Dan Santat's BEEKLE or THIS ONE SUMMER by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Jillian Tamaki. Both were so far from my radar. So I say, THANK YOU, COMMITTEES for bringing them to me!

I don't read enough middle grade to predict the Newbery (though, as last year pointed out, middle grade isn't a shoe-in for the Newbery.) I read both MAYBE A FOX and PAX this year and think they could both be real contenders. 

I'd love to sit and chat predictions all day...

Stonewall. 💜
Alex. ❤
Geisel. 💝

But for now I made predictions in just two groups: Caldecott and the Printz.

Let's start with the Michael L. Printz Award. 

See what I did there?
The Printz Committee's Charge:
Select from the previous year's publications the best young adult book ("best" being defined solely in terms of literary merit) and, if the Committee so decides, as many as four Honor Books. 

So many incredible YA books this year. (The same could be said for last year, right? And the committee did the crazy task of narrowing the field to two honors: OUT OF DARKNESS and THE GHOSTS OF HEAVEN, and the winner: BONE GAP.) I know the new committee will bring forward the best from 2016. Maybe a few from my list will make the cut...

BURN BABY BURN by Meg Medina
WHEN THE MOON WAS OURS by Anna-Marie McLemore
ANOTHER BROOKLYN by Jacqueline Woodson
MARCH: BOOK THREE by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell (more on this one later!)

There were many excellent books this year but based on the committee's criteria for selection ("best") and the NEED for these specific books to be on every reading list for teen readers across the country, these are my four with a strong push for BURN BABY BURN as the medal winner.

And now...

The Caldecott Medal

The criteria for this award is exhaustive, yet somehow committees do an astonishing job of weighing illustrations in mounds of picture books each year. I've embedded a link to the terms for the Caldecott here. The first point being:

Identifying a “distinguished American picture book for children,” defined as illustration, committee members need to consider:
  1. Excellence of execution in the artistic technique employed;
  2. Excellence of pictorial interpretation of story, theme, or concept;
  3. Appropriateness of style of illustration to the story, theme or concept;
  4. Delineation of plot, theme, characters, setting, mood or information through the pictures;
  5. Excellence of presentation in recognition of a child audience.
I would love to see a few of the following titles honored this year:

THEY ALL SAW A CAT by Brendan Wenzel
GIANT SQUID by Candy Fleming, illustrated by Eric Rohmann
SNOW WHITE by Matt Phelan
RADIANT CHILD by Javaka Steptoe
MARCH: BOOK THREE by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell
SOME WRITER by Melissa Sweet
SCHOOL'S FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL by Adam Rex, illustrated by Christian Robinson
THUNDER BOY JR. by Sherman Alexie, illustrated by Yuyi Morales 
BE A FRIEND by Salina Yoon
ARE WE THERE YET? by Dan Santat

I can't wait to celebrate alongside all of my fellow book lovers when the announcements are made on Monday (watch here). And know this, I only aspire to be on one of these prestigious committees. The predictions I've made above are really just books that I adore and they happen to fit the criteria of said committees. 

But it's fun to dream, isn't it?

Much love,