All things literacy — Authors, Books, Connections . . .

Monday, January 23, 2012

JMHO - Newbery, Caldecott, and other award

My uncensored thoughts and ...
Randolph Caldecott Medal 2012 - I know I'm supposed to like this book.  I tried but I'm just not into it.  I know it takes talent to draw the same cute dog (the little dog who lost his red ball to a larger dog) from different perspectives and still maintain his same "look."  But I also think that is a skill not an art - -and adults like that stuff more than young readers do.  They don't care.  Children want a story and this one has such a slight story that it is almost non-existent.  I loved Raschka's illustrations for Norton Juster's Hello, Goodbye Window (Caldecott 2006), but that story had substance, and the illustrations had something to go back to.  A Ball for Daisy, not so much. (Schwartz & Wade Books)
A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka

Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy's Parade by Melissa Sweet
Orbus Pictus Award Winner (2012) for Outstanding Nonfiction for Chidlren (named by the National Council of Teachers of English - NCTE)
The Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award 2012
I love this book - the art is inspired.  The collages are marvelous.  The story of Tony Sarg is the story of the puppeteer who used his skills to create the character "puppet" balloons that rise high above the buildings during Macy's annual parade in New York City.  Should have gotten a Caldecott nod -- IMHO. (Houghton Mifflin)

Blackout by John Rocco
Randolph Caldecott Honor 2012.
John Rocco's use of light and shadow and his depiction of the building of community that comes with the electricity black-out.  The "party" goes first to the roof and then to the street below -- and continues even after the Blackout is over.  Rocco's use of light - even in the dark, is masterful.  And the story charming.  No quibbles with this choice. (Hyperion)
Grandpa Green by Lane Smith
Randolph Caldecott Honor 2012.
A touching story of a boy and his great-grandfather who travel through their fanciful garden filled with elaborate topiary - sculpted greenery.  The walk down memory lane with its images from the past are apt to elude many young readers.  Older readers will find the images intriguing and the "history" might create curiosity -- perhaps.  (Roaring Brook Press)

Me...Jane by Patrick McDonnell
Randolph Caldecott Honor 2012.
 Throughout her childhood, Jane Goodall loved nature.  She watched birds and squirrels and learned patience and tenderness.  McDonnell's India ink and watercolor illustrations are charming and as patient and tender as Jane's observation methods during her observational research.  She grew up to be the world's most renowned primatologist.
(Little, Brown).

Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos
John Newbery Award 2012
Studying history (you must know history so as not to repeat it.), a mystery, obituaries, and a dying New Deal town combine to make a tenderly humorous snapshot of small town life during the Depression.When a boy, named Jack Gantos, is loaned out to type obituaries he comes  involved in his town's unusual and interesting past.  An interesting book by an author who does appeal to readers (especially males) and whose writing style is very fresh and sharp. (Farrar Straus Giroux)

Breaking Stalin's Nose by Eugene Yelchin
John Newbery Honor Award 2012
The laws of Stalin's Soviet Young Pioneers was well known to Sasha Zaichik since the age of six. Finally when it was time to join (the Young Pioneers were devoted to Stalin and the Communist party) everything began to go wrong.  He broke a classmate's glasses, damaged a bust of Stalin in a school hallway -- AND his father, a faithful follower of the Communist Party was arrested the night before.  Young readers will find much here to challenge their own sense of idealism.  Although Communism will be a foreign concept to most young readers - with some background building this will be a  good choice. (Henry Holt)
Heart and Soul: The Story of American and African Americans by Kadir Nelson
Coretta Scott King Author Award 2012
Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor 2012
This marks the second time, I believe that Nelson has earned the Author Award but an honor in the illustrative arena. 
Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai.
John Newbery Honor Award 2012
A verse novel that takes Hà's family from Vietnam and its war to the American South where the family must adjust to a world that is strange and challenging in its own way.  The Vietnam war is long ago history to most readers of this age. (HarperCollins)
Brother Sun, Sister Moon by Katherine Paterson, illustrations by Pamela Dalton.
Not finding this book on any of the major lists -- too bad it's a beautiful and moving book.  Tomie dePaola made "religious" books okay in most settings with his Strega Nona titles.  He edged us all toward accepting diversity in writing to include religious narratives.  The exquisite paper-cuts by Dalton are marvelously detailed and add to the beauty of this superb title.  This account of Saint Francis of Assissi's philosophy and life should have gotten a nod somewhere. (Chronicle Books)

Tales for Very Picky Eaters, written and illustrated by Josh Schneider
Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss) Award for Beginning readers.  Not since Bread and Jam for Frances have readers had so much fun with food.  In each of 5 chapters James is faced with yet another repulsive food.  The rationale for eating the disgusting food provided by of his very clever dad heightens the sense of humor.  Watercolor, pen and ink, and colored pencil cartoonish illustrations enhance the fun.  (Houghton Mifflin)
Schneider's title is very worthy, and rivals the previous Elephant and Piggie titles by Mo Willems that have won previous awards.  Another title in that series garnered a Geisel Honor Award this year.  I Broke My Trunk , written and illustrated by Mo Willems. (Hyperion Books)

Where Things Come Back written by John Corey Whaley
Michael Printz Award 2012
The summer between Cullen Witter's Junior and Senior year of high school suddenly goes from dull in his small sleepy Arkansas town to ... perhaps chaotic and troubling.  His cousin overdoes, an extinct woodpecker returns and consumes the attention of the entire town, and his fifteen-year-old brother just up and disappears. And then there is the young African missionary who has fallen from his faith and whose story seems as remotely disconnected to that of Cullen's as two stories can be.  The conclusion woven masterfully together gives readers pause and a very satisfying read. (Atheneum)

Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt
This book doesn't seem to show up on any of the major lists but it is an excellent novel that brings together a quest, sincere friendship, creativity, patience, and a sincere look at all the reasons one should not judge another by those around a person.
Doug Swieteck has several things working against him -- a father (who has quick hands when he is angered) and who has lost his job, an older brother who acts like a jerk most of the time -- and who is suspected of robberies in their new town, an older brother who leaves their former town under adverse situations to serve in the army (he comes back severely injured), and a new school where the teachers seem to judge him by others around him. His safe haven is the public library, a book of John J. Audubon drawings, and his friend Lil whose father owns the local grocery. All of these circumstances are masterfully intertwined by Schmidt - the author of the most popular Wednesday Wars.
JMHO - just saying! Sharron


  1. I had Okay for Now at the top of my own personal Newbery list (not that I have read anything like a comprehensive survey of 2011's fiction!). I was surprised and disappointed that it didn't even garner an Honor. After the announcements, I read *Dead End in Norvelt* and liked it, but it just doesn't have the power I found in Okay for Now (or the Graveyard Book, another recent Newbery winner that I love).

    1. I think you said it nicely -- while *Dead End in Norvelt* is a likeable book it doesn't have the power that *Okay of Now* does. To me that means *Dead End in Norvelt* does not evoke the same intense emotional response that I got from *Okay of Now.* Sort of makes me wonder if the committee just missed *Okay of Now* -- because in my mind, if they had read it, they surely would have given it some mention. JMHO.