Youth Media Awards: My Picks

If you are a youth services librarian like me, most likely you also totally geek out for the announcement of the Youth Media Awards every year. These are the Academy Awards of our profession and gosh, aren’t they just exciting! The past several months have been spent reading and discussing and debating and speculating about what each of the committees will chose to honor as the best books of 2013. The three biggies are the Caldecott for best illustrations in a children’s book, the Newbery for most distinguished children’s book, and the Printz for young adult fiction. There will be live stream of the announcements first thing Monday morning, January 27 at 8 am EST for any that want to watch. Or you can follow on twitter with the hastag #alayma.

My department is not missing out on any of the action. I held a virtual Mock Printz Club with my besties from library school and we had our final vote this Tuesday. Let me tell you, that was an adrenaline rush! I said it was one of the best moments of my life and I wasn’t kidding. Just imagine being on the actual committee! My coworker gets to attend a Mock Newbery Club on  Saturday which she has been reading all year in preparation for. The club is held at a nearby library and is lead by an actual Newbery Committee veteran so that’s awesome! And then another coworker will be at the Mock Caldecott at another nearby library on Monday, while the actual announcements are made, and that one is a lot of fun (I got to do it last year). They bring all the picture books out and there are dozens of them to look through and then they vote and it’s wonderful and glorious and the most fun ever.

Anyway, without further ado, here are my top three picks for each of the big awards!

For the Caldecott Medal: Journey by Aaron Becker, Nino Wrestles the World, and Water in the Park

For the Newbery Medal: Flora & Ulysses, The Thing About Luck, and Doll Bones

And for the Printz: Far Far Away, Midwinterblood, and The Summer Prince.

Journey

17262290Journey by Aaron Becker. Ages 4 and up. Candlewick, 2013. 40 pages. Copy provided by my library.

This delightful wordless book is my favorite picture book of the year so far. Journey celebrates the power of the imagination with a Harold and the Purple Crayon story for our day. The book starts out with a watercolor/ pen and ink spread in various shades of dull brown. The notable exception is a brilliant red scooter leaning against a stoop near a contemplative, bored-looking girl. Barely noticeable during a first reading, you also see a boy near a mailbox with a  bright purple crayon and up in the sky, a small purple bird, far away. The cut-away house behind the girl reveals family members occupied with different technological devises, all to busy to play with the young girl, reminiscent of last year’s Hello! Hello! by Matthew Cordell.

The story moves on; in homage to Harold’s purple crayon, the girl sees a red crayon on her bedroom floor and draws a door on her bedroom wall. The door opens to reveal. . . a truly stunning landscape of color and light. Tall, tall green trees line a winding brooke and in the branches, strings of white party lights and whimsical blue lanterns glow. It’s about as breathtaking as you can get in a picture book illustration. And it only gets better from there. Our character draws herself a boat and follows the stream to the glistening city shown in the cover image, where she catches sight of a beautiful purple bird and follows it up to a steampunk style skyship. Every page is beautiful and full of details to be pored over again and again. Once you reach the pitch-perfect statisfying ending, all you want to do is turn back to the first page and read it all over again, searching for the smallest details you might have missed the first time.

I highly recommend this picture book and believe it can be enjoyed by readers of any age. There are many things to discuss as you read this wordless book aloud with a child. I love the joyful, quiet celebration of the power of imagination. This book certainly has my (fake) vote for this year’s Caldecott Award. Go check out Journey by Aaron Becker today!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

It’s Awards Time!

Yessterday the 2012 American Library Association Youth Media Awards were announced at ALA Midwinter in Dallas, TX! I was seriously in anticipation of this day for months. I remember in December, before Christmas, telling people that I couldn’t decide if I was more excited about the awards or Christmas. That’s how excited I was! So when I heard that there was a live webcast people not lucky enough to be at Midwinter could watch from home, some other like-minded library nerds and I thought we would have a little viewing party. Kind of like an Oscars party, but better. That was before we found out the announcements were early in the morning on a Monday. Yeah, not the best time to have a party. And I had to be at work.

So instead of a party, I followed along on twitter this morning. Gosh, was that exciting. Even from far away I could feel the excitement as the tweets were flowing in. I had done a lot of reading in preparation but I knew I hadn’t read everything. I definitely had my favorites that I was hoping would be honored. I had spent a lot of time reading various Mock Award blogs, which are so much fun by the way! My favorites were Someday my Printz Will Come and the Heavy Medal blog.

And so the winners are:

Printz Award for excellence in young adult literature: Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley. Guys, I was seriously so stocked that this book won! It really deserves it. I read it just a few weeks ago and absolutely LOVED it! The coolest thing is that this book was honored with TWO awards this year; it also won the Morris Award for best debut book! Go out and read it now! The Printz honors I wasn’t so excited about. I had actually just tried to read The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater and I could not finish it. I really tried. I gave it 50 pages and didn’t want to give up so I gave it another 50 pages but I still couldn’t understand the appeal after 100 pages so I had to put it down. If someone can tell me why they love this book, I would love to hear it! Of the other three, I really want to read Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler. Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey and The Returning by Chrsitine Hinwood sound good too and I’ll probably read them eventually.

The Caldecott Award for most distinguished picture book goes to A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka. This picture book is truly excellent. It tells a charming, heartwarming story about a dog and his ball and it does it all without any word! This was a great choice for our winner this year. Grandpa Green by Lane Smith was one of the honors. This is another really cool book you will have to check out. The illustrations are fantastic and beautifully detailed. I still need to read Blackout by John Rocco and Me….Jane by Patrick McDonnell. I am a little sad that I Want My Hat Back wasn’t honored, but also I’m not very surprised that it didn’t. These books are all excellent as well.

Finally, we had the Newbery Medal for the most distinguished contribution to literature for children. This one I wasn’t so thrilled about. I had a lot of favorite books for middle readers and none of them were selected. The winner is Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos. I haven’t read it but it sounds pretty funny I guess. There was one honor book I could get on board with, Inside Out and Back Again. If you’ve been following this blog you know I love that one! The other honor book was Breaking Stalin’s Nose by Eugene Yelchin, so I guess I’ll be reading that one soon also. Mostly I was super sad that Okay for Now and A Monster Calls were not honored at all. I’m not surprised about Okay for Now, a lot of people had issues with some of the plot, but the fact that A Monster Calls was not honored at all, by the  Printz or Newbery really shocks me. I can not think of a more distinguished book I have read this whole year. Though I guess I shouldn’t be surprised because there were some questions if it was eligible because it was also published in England and the age range was kind of right in between both awards. But still, if you were to ask me what book is the most distinguished contribution to literature for children and I would say A Monster Calls without hesitation. Wonderful, wonderful book.