“Most people don't realize how important librarians are. I ran across a book recently which suggested that the peace and prosperity of a culture was solely related to how many librarians it contained. Possibly a slight overstatement. But a culture that doesn't value its librarians doesn't value ideas and without ideas, well, where are we?”
Neil Gaiman

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Meeting the 2010 Newberry & Caldecott Winners

2010 Newberry Award

When You Reach Me

By Rebecca Stead



2010 Caldecott Award

The Lion & The Mouse

By Jerry Pinckney


I was so excited to go to the 2010 Newberry/Caldecott Award dinner at ALA this past summer. The recipients of the 2010 awards were nothing short of outstanding. Not to say that past recipients weren’t outstanding. It was incredible meeting these two wonderful, talented, humble, warm, and creative author/artists, each with their individual and fascinating tales to tell of how they approach their craft. I knew when I first picked up Rebecca Stead’s book When You Reach Me that it was really, REALLY special. And when I read it, I knew it was an award winner. The same was true of Jerry Pinckney’s book. When you can pick up a children’s picture book and the art literally speaks to you from the page, you know that it stands out from the crowd. That’s why books like Brian Selznick’s Hugo Cabaret won the award and so many books by David Wiesner.

When You Reach Me is a journey through self-discovery. It’s laden with mystery and puzzles. It’s filled with the everyday challenges of life that normal young people face and yet Rebecca Stead brings it to us in a story that is written in such a lyrical poetic way with fabulous characters, intrigue and suspense. It is a “smart girl” book. One to challenge, sink your teeth into and have fun with curled up in a cozy chair. I am torn between using this book and Going Bovine for the next Book Cart Drill Team theme…If I can convince enough willing PA librarians to join me in New Orleans for the competition!

The Lion & The Mouse is literally a work of unbelievable art. I was able to hear Jerry speak multiple times over the conference about the book and his art. The book was created from studies of actual lions and African animals of the savannah. That is how he was able to create such lifelike illustrations. The front cover has a lion and the back has a Mouse and the title is on the spine. You don’t realize that you are able to articulate the title purely from pictures. We are so familiar with the old fable that it’s possible to “tell” the story without” words. In fact, the book has very few. Jerry grew up living with dyslexia. Today we have better supports in our school systems, but that wasn’t true even 20 years ago let alone in Jerry’s day. He was labeled early on and struggled to read. He did well despite the disability but still struggles to read and write even today. He went to art school in Philadelphia and found his true calling – illustration. On his website, he talks about learning disabilities and I loved this quote of encouragement;

"For the young person who is struggling in school, never forget there are many different ways to learn. Be curious. Do not be afraid to try. Do not be disappointed when making mistakes. You will discover your own unique way of understanding the things being taught. Learn from mistakes. Everything that happens to you will frame who you are, and who you will become. Your path to success will follow."

As a teacher librarian, I truly feel that it is my role to reach out to all students and help them find their path to success. My hope for all children is that they are able to find the skills and love of learning while in our school system so that when they are out there on their own they are able to find the right information, the right resources, the right people, to pursue their dreams and passions and lead happy fulfilled lives.

So who’s it gonna be in 2011…? Wiesner is definitely a strong contender with Art & Max for another Caldecott. And the Newberry? Hmmmmmm…gotta sleep on that one…

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