2011 Caldecott and Newbery Medal Awards and Honors

Regular readers of this blog know something of my mild fascination (see here or here or even sort of here for evidence) with these awards for children's literature.  Perhaps you assume it is because I have small children?  Though it makes perfect sense, my kids are not the root of my love of children's literature.  Perhaps it's because I'm a teacher? I did cultivate my particular leaning toward this body of work during my brief stint as a teacher of upper elementary and middle school students, but as I teach university students now, my job-related exposure to this works is practically nil.  Perhaps it's because I have always loved to read, and I read many of these as a child?  I think we're getting closer here because, certainly, the nostalgia factor can't be ignored.  I think, though, it is something more than nostalgia.  I think writing for a younger audience opens an author to create in a unique way, and when it is successful, it is supremely successful.

Consider E. B. White's Charlotte's Web.  I have gushed over this book before, about my children's responses to it.  But I believe wholeheartedly that this book is wonderful for more than just its appeal to children.  Adults everywhere will tell you how important it is (not just was) to them.  There are countless others, too.  Take a look at Brenna's post at Literary Musings about kids' books; the comments make my point for me. 

And though there are detractors and areas of certain failing, the Newbery Medal and Caldecott Medal recipients often are excellent representations of the best of the best in children's lit.  January brought us the announcement of the 2011 award winners and honor books, and though I try to pay attention to these things, I was caught off guard by almost all the selections.  See the list below:

Newbery Medal - Moon over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool

Honors - Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm
Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus
Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night by Joyce Sidman
One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

Caldecott Medal - A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Phillip Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead

Honors - Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave by Laban Carrick Hill, illustrated by Bryan Collier
Interrupting Chicken written and illustrated by David Ezra Stein

I have read exactly none of these.  How humbling.  The Stein was on my radar at least, but I didn't consider it a contender.  The Vanderpool is a debut novel (What an amazing trip that must be!).  Turtle in Paradise has been highly recommended to me.  But to have read none of these books, even with weekly trips to the library and regular consideration of such things, is just evidence to me of the wonder and beauty of children's books.  That's why I love these awards.  Try as I may, I can't read everything, and I bet at least one of these will change me in some important way.  Had they not been granted this distinction, I might never have had the honor of reading them.  So, I have my list; I must go see what my libraries have available.  What about you?  Do you have comments on any of these?  What about past winners or honorees?  Do you have favorites?  Let's share some kid book love, people!


  1. I just found out that our library doesn't even have a copy (not that it's checked out or has been recalled because of the award - has never owned!) of Moon over Manifest. At least I know I'm not the only one who missed it! I've got Turtle in Paradise on hold, so look for a review to come.

  2. I love these awards too as way of learning about great new books. I have a vague desire to read all the Newbery winners, and would love to get to doing that sometime, but my reading dance card is already pretty full with an even longer quest- to read all 1001 books in Julia Eccleshare's 1001 Children's Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up! I have read When You Reach Me because it won, and because I saw it on blogs everywhere, and I just loved it. Have never seen Moon Over Manifest. I'm not sure it's even been published in Australia yet, my library certainly doesn't have a copy.

  3. Yes, Louise, I too want to read them all, and I've managed to make a sizable dent in the list over the years. There were a few slogfests (The Dark Frigate??), but mostly they are just so, so fine. I haven't seen the 1001 list, so off to the web I must go for some research. Thanks!

  4. I haven't heard of The Dark Frigate. Any list has some slogfests though. The 1001 list is available online- it was published initially as a book. I actually run a yahoo group list based on reading the 1001 if you become interested in reading some more. We're just starting The Hound of the Baskervilles at the moment.