Kids' books: Caldecott, Newbery contenders emerge
A roundup of children's books that may win the top awards for best-illustrated (Caldecott) and best-written (Newbery) works.
Scripps Howard News Service
It's time for the annual guessing game played by children's literature lovers: Which books will win the coveted Caldecott and Newbery Medals?
Librarians, teachers, parents and other children's book fans try to divine which children's book will be chosen in January as the best-illustrated (Caldecott) or the best-written (Newbery). It's a big deal: Winning the Caldecott or Newbery Medal brings instant fame and fortune.
Suspense will continue to build until the actual award winners are announced Jan. 10 at the American Library Association's Midwinter Conference. But lots of people are making guesses, often in "mock" Caldecott and Newbery contests organized by libraries across the country, including the Allen County (Ind.) Public Library, the Brooklyn Public Library and the Dayton (Ohio) Metro Library System.
In the popular blog "Heavy Medal," the moderators — California librarians/children's book experts Nina Lindsay and Jonathan Hunt — annually lead a five-month online discussion of potential Newbery Medal winners. (Find their blog at: http://blog.schoollibraryjournal.com/heavymedal/2010/09/13/welcome-back/)
Some years, there are obvious winners. This year, however, there are really no sure bets for either medal.
"The more I read, and the more I listen to others, I think there could be a lot of surprises this year," said children's book expert Anita Silvey, whose latest project is the online Children's Book-A-Day Almanac (http://childrensbookalmanac.com/).
"We have for each category, many fine books, but everyone in their best of the year lists seems to disagree about the most outstanding books."
Here — drawn from various sources — are some of the best bets for the 2011 Caldecott and Newbery Medal:
Amy Kellman, a Pittsburgh-based children's literature consultant, believes that "it is a good year for the Caldecott," adding that she particularly likes "13 Words" (HarperCollins, $16.99), written by Lemony Snicket and illustrated by Maira Kalman, and "City Dog, Country Frog" (Hyperion, $17.99), written by Mo Willems and illustrated by Jon Muth, as 2011 Caldecott Medal possibilities.
In fact, "City Dog, Country Frog" appears to be one of the top contenders for the 2011 Caldecott. "Art & Max" (Clarion, $17.99), written and illustrated by David Wiesner, is another likely possibility; if "Art & Max" is chosen, Wiesner would win an unprecedented fourth Caldecott.
Other potential Caldecott winners include:
• "Ballet For Martha: Making Appalachian Spring" (Roaring Brook, $17.99, ages 6 up), written by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan and illustrated by Brian Floca.
• "A Pocketful of Posies" (Houghton Mifflin, $21.99), written and illustrated by Sally Mavor.
• "Mama Miti" (Simon & Schuster, $16.99), written by Donna Jo Napoli and illustrated by Kadir Nelson.
• "Snook Alone" (Candlewick Press, $16.99, ages 4-7), written by Marilyn Nelson and illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering.
• "Ubiquitous: Celebrating Nature's Survivors" (Houghton Mifflin, $17.99), written by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Beckie Prange.
• "A Sick Day for Amos McGee" (Roaring Brook, $16.99, ages 2-6), written by Philip Stead and illustrated by Erin Stead.
• "Chalk" (Marshal Cavendish, $15.99), written and illustrated by Bill Thomson.
• "Here Comes the Garbage Barge" (Schwartz & Wade/Random House, $17.99), written by Jonah Winter, with illustrations by Red Nose Studio.
Perhaps the most often-mentioned 2011 Newbery possibility is "One Crazy Summer" (HarperCollins, $15.99) by Rita Williams-Garcia.
Other Newbery contenders include a mix of fiction and, in an unusual twist, non-fiction. Although there have been nonfiction Newbery winners, they still are rare.
Even more unusual is the fact that a picture book, "City Dog, Country Frog" has been touted as a possible Newbery winner (as well as a potential Caldecott winner).
"It is possible for a picture book to be honored for its text — it just hasn't happened very frequently," Silvey said. "Even some of the masters of the picture book text — William Steig, James Marshall — have no Newberys to their credit."
Interestingly, a book of poetry, "Dark Emperor & Other Poems of the Night" (Houghton Mifflin, $16.99, ages 8 up), written by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Rick Allen, won the mock Newbery contest of the "Heavy Medal" blog this year.
Another poetry book, "Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse" (Dutton, $16.99, ages 8-12), written by Marilyn Singer and illustrated by Josee Masse, also has attracted attention as a potential Newbery winner.
While poetry books have captured the Newbery in the past — examples include "Good Masters, Sweet Ladies" in 2008 and "Joyful Noise" in 1989 — poetry winners remain atypical, however.
Here's a rundown of other potential 2011 Newbery winners:
• "The Strange Case of Origami Yoda" (Amulet, $12.95) by Tom Angleberger.
• "Keeper" (Atheneum, $16.99), by Kathi Appelt.
• "They Called Themselves the K.K.K." (Houghton Mifflin, $19, ages 12 up), by Susan Bartoletti.
• "Sir Charlie" (Greenwillow, $19.99, ages 10 up), by Sid Fleischman.
• "A Tale Dark & Grimm" (Dutton, $16.99), by Adam Gidwitz.
• "The Kneebone Boy" (Feiwell and Friends, $16.99), by Ellen Potter.
• "Ninth Ward" (Little, Brown, $15.99), by Jewell Parker Rhodes.
• "The Dreamer" (Scholastic, $17.99), by Pam Munoz Ryan, with illustrations by Peter Sis.
• "Countdown" (Scholastic, $17.99) by Deborah Wiles
Karen MacPherson, the children's/teen librarian at the Takoma Park (Md.) Library, can be reached at Kam.Macpherson@gmail.com.
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