Dear 2010 Caldecott committee,

January 18, 2010

Once again, the book club I so often write about has held its mock Caldecott meeting, and we’ve chosen our books!  I just thought you might like to know, before you announce the actual winner and honors (in just a couple of hours).  I’ll be watching the streaming video feed on the internet from my cozy bed, biting my nails in anticipation.  😉

We started with a rather long list that we whittled down to a shortlist of choices at our last meeting.  That shortlist is what we picked discussed and picked from, and here it is (in alpha order):

All the World – Marla Frazee (written by Liz Garton Scanlon)
Egg Drop – Mini Grey
The Goblin and the Empty Chair – Leo and Diane Dillon (written by Mem Fox)
In the Belly of an Ox – Rebecca Bond
Jeremy Draws a Monster – Peter McCarty
The Lion and the Mouse – Jerry Pinkney
Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 – Brian Floca
The Negro Speaks of Rivers – E.B. Lewis (written by Langston Hughes)
One Beetle Too Many: The Extraordinary Adventures of Charles Darwin – Matthew Trueman (written by Kathryn Lasky)
A Penguin Story – Antoinette Portis
Red Sings From Treetops: A Year in Colors – Pamela Zagarenski (written by Joyce Sidman)
Redwoods – Jason Chin

After the first round of voting, a clear winner emerged–Red Sings From Treetops, with 26 points!

Read my review of it here!

We had a little more difficulty deciding the honor books; in the first round, four books were closely tied at 13 and 12 votes, after which the numbers dropped off drastically.  There was some unwillingness to name four honor books, though, so we voted again on just the honors.  After that round, at least one honor book became clear:  Moonshot, with 20 points!

The other three possible honor books were once again closely tied, one with 14 points, two with 13.  We decided to keep for certain the 14-point book:  A Penguin Story!

Then we took a quick vote between the two 13-pointers in order to eliminate one of them…and they tied again!  Finally we gave in and accepted the idea of keeping them both:  The Goblin and the Empty Chair (read my review here) and The Negro Speaks of Rivers!

I’m pretty pleased with our choices overall, though my personal picks were different.  When we initially voted, my top four were The Goblin and the Empty Chair, A Penguin Story, Red Sings From Treetops, and Egg Drop.

It was a very tough call for me–I felt a lot of the books this year were quite worthy of recognition.  I particularly fought with myself, though, over The Goblin and the Empty Chair and A Penguin Story.  I think A Penguin Story is incredibly clever and deceptively simple, not to mention compositionally amazing, and I’d have made it my first choice without hesitation if it weren’t for the Dillons.

I LOVE the Dillons’ work with extreme passion.  I think everything they do is fantastic, and even wrote a paper about them back at Simmons.  I think The Goblin and the Empty Chair is exceptional in its technical execution, not to mention beautiful; the illustrations not only fit the tone of the story, but enhance it, telling pieces that are never specified in the text.  The attention to detail is just breathtaking.  However, it was brought up in discussion that though the style they use in this book suits the story and the fairy tale feel of it, it’s also something of a throwback–a style they’ve used before (In Aida, if I’m not mistaken, and probably elsewhere too), so that it not only references a timeless fairy tale era but also a golden era of the Dillons’ work.  When I looked at it with that in mine, I could see it, how it was beautiful and perfect but not anything new.

In the end, I went with my heart over my head and gave my top vote to The Goblin.  But it was rough, lemme tell ya.

Now all that’s left is to wait a few hours and see which books you guys picked as this year’s best!  I think The Lion and the Mouse is likely, though it didn’t get my vote or place high enough for an honor in mock voting.  I think there’s some tension and pressure around that book, since it’s the big buzz book for the award, and since Pinkney has been honored numerous times but never won.  We shall see.

On a side note, we didn’t do a mock Newbery in book club this year, so I’m woefully under-read in that regard, though I perused Heavy Medal to see what the buzz was earlier in the week.  That said, I’m rooting for When You Reach Me (Rebecca Stead), because it seems to be a front runner, and I read it last week and thought it was INCREDIBLE and wonderful and very Newbery-ish.  My review of that will be on its way in the next month or two (yeah, that’s how backlogged I am after those months I took off), but I just want to point out that I think it would be fantastic for When You Reach Me to win given how heavily it references A Wrinkle in Time (Newbery winner, 1963).  I’d love to hand-sell them together with matching gold medals on their covers!

Sadly, I’m feeling too sleepy and uninformed to make personal picks for the other awards–but I’m excited to watch them live very soon!  I’m keeping my fingers crossed for good choices!

Love,

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Dear ALA,

January 27, 2009

Hooray for you and your awards!  I support a lot of the choices this year, and I’ve read and reviewed some of them previously–so here’s a roundup of my reviews of books that won exciting things!

The Graveyard Book The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Dave McKean – Newbery Winner!

I am beyond thrilled that this title was the winner.  The story is extremely deserving, it has a   wide and wonderful appeal, and the genre can always use more attention.  Read my review here.

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The Underneath The Underneath by Kathi Appelt, illustrated by David Small – Newbery Honor!

Another amazing book that’s entirely deserving of recognition–and perhaps a courageous choice, since this isn’t the kind of title that has a wide-ranging appeal.  Read my review here.

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Savvy Savvy by Ingrid Law – Newbery Honor!

I think this title is another worthy but possibly risky choice for Newbery recognition.  I loved it, personally, but the dialectic language turned a lot of people off–even so, I’m super glad it got an honor!  Read my review here.

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River of Words A River of Words by Jen Bryant, illustrated by Melissa Sweet – Caldecott Honor!

Though I was disappointed that my top Caldecott pick didn’t make it onto the honor list, I am quite glad that this title did–it’s beautiful, and wonderfully unusual.  Read my review here.

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We Are the Ship We Are the Ship by Kadir Nelson – Coretta Scott King Winner, Illustrator Honor Book and Sibert Winner!

This book is an enigma–I love it, but it defies any category I try to put it in, and it certainly deserves recognition.  Read my review here.

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Moribito Guardian of the Spirit Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit by Nahoko Uehashi, translated by Cathy Hirano, illustrated by Yuko Shimizu – Batchelder Winner!

What a surprise–I just finished reading this book, and it won an award!  I’m quite delighted–it’s a great title.  Read my review here.

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All in all, a pretty nice little handful of award-winners!  I’m sure the other winning and honor books are also great–I just haven’t had a chance to read them.  Ah well…you can’t read ’em all.

Love,

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Dear Newbery Committee,

January 19, 2009

Well, I got sick and missed out on my book club’s Newbery discussion, but I can at least post about our short list and my personal picks!  We agreed, for the sake of our sanity, to read five books we all were interested in and had heard bandied about as Newbery possibilities.  Here’s the list, from my top Newbery pick to my bottom pick:

The Graveyard Book The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Dave McKean.

Read my review here.

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The Underneath The Underneath by Kathi Appelt, illustrated by David Small

Read my review here.

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The Ghost's Child The Ghost’s Child by Sonya Hartnett

Read my review here.

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My One Hundred Adventures My One Hundred Adventures by Polly Horvath

Read my review here.

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Masterpiece Masterpiece by Elise Broach

Read my review here.

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The top and bottom picks were pretty clear to me when I was deciding how I’d vote, but the middle three were harder–I really enjoyed them all.  It’s gonna be a tough call for you folks who are actually making the decision!  I can’t wait to see what comes of it.

Love,

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