2016 Newbery and Caldecott Awards, The Morning After

Well, I’m shocked but not altogether surprised by the committees’ mind-boggling choices. They routinely give these awards to titles that just aren’t very good compared to others and end up sitting on the shelf because no one wants to read them. Cases in point…..


Even for 1957 this couldn’t have been the best picture book of the year.

Not even people wanting to read Newberys read this one.











Let’s break it down.

Caldecott winner: Finding Winnie illustrated by Sophie Blackall

Some were saying this was Blackall’s year. I’d say so with two books showcasing her delightful style and both with lots of book buzz. IMO, she should’ve gotten the medal for Fine Dessert but I figure the backlash and author apology on that one ruled it out. The only disappointment here was In a Village by the Sea not getting an honor.

Newbery winner: Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña

Ugh. Blech. Yuck. I mean, congrats to Peña. He becomes the first Hispanic author to win the Newbery. I’m all for minorities breaking boundaries. But. Market wasn’t the best book of 2015. I know lots of people did love it, and that confuses me because I’m not sure what they saw that I missed. If that’s you, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it in the comments. My first issue is that there were so. many. better. books. Of all the books that were published last year this is supposed to be the best one? There were lots of other picture books with much better stories including Song of Delphine, Beyond the Pond and Boats for Papa. You’re going to give a picture book the award for best story and you don’t give it to Boats for Papa????

And second, what about the chapter books they could’ve given it to?

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At least they got honors but, come on. Can anyone really make the case that Market is a better story than either War, a beautiful, sophisticated story so exquisitely written that it transcends children’s literature or Echo which is nothing less than a tour de force of writing and Ryan’s best work? That they got honors diminishes their place in the canon of children’s literature. Strictly from a literary perspective these books were executed at a level so far above Market that it’s not fair to even have them in the same category. It’s like comparing a Cadillac to a Fiesta. Bradley, you were robbed. Robbed!

Third, this is yet another Newbery choice that will be a hard sell to the usual 3rd-6th grade crowd that reads them. The award brings much attention to the winning book so it’s unfortunate that this year’s winner is a picture book in which the illustrations and the text don’t match up.

Lastly, it seems that the focus was more about rewarding the best diverse books rather than the books that were simply the best. However, since the committee is forbidden to discuss it the world will never know.

What are your thoughts?


4 thoughts on “2016 Newbery and Caldecott Awards, The Morning After

  1. Emily says:

    I found your blog linked to a comment you left over on the Heavy Medal Blog, and I just wanted to say THANK YOU! I’m a middle school teacher who moonlights as a youth services librarian, and for as long as I’ve been either, I’ve been frustrated with the Newbery. Over the past decade or so, the winner is inevitably some book no child will ever read. (when did Despereaux win? 2004? so 11 years since the last decent winner?) But recently it seems that the committee is actively seeking out and selecting not just odd or dull choices, but choices that meet some nebulous definition of “diverse” or “groundbreaking.” The most recent winners, aside from joining their fellows in what I like to call “permanently checked-in club,” have not even been all that distinguished. But they make for provocative headlines, and at the end of the day, that’s what counts, right? No! Obviously not. I completely agree that both War and Echo were much more deserving. I would also offer up The Hired Girl, another fantastic title. 2015 really was a banner year for historical fiction. But, back to my point, the committee has strayed so far from the award’s actual criteria, that I feel it’s lost all credibility. Which is a shame, and also a frustration of mine. So many teachers in our area still assign a Newbery book report. When the students come in, I automatically pull up my list from the 70s, 80s, and 90s to find them something good. Or, I’ll suggest one of the more recent honor books while steering clear of the recent winners. I always feel bad for that student who leaves the assignment to the last minute and gets stuck reading The Higher Power of Lucky or Moon Over Manifest.


  2. CJ says:

    I think librarians and educators struggle with the fact that many of the Newbery choices don’t connect with kids. However, that isn’t one of the criteria for the medal. We can’t know the case that was made for awarding “Market” the Newbery, but when the books that got honors were all better written than the one that got the medal it does make you wonder. I get what Pena was trying to do; I just don’t think the execution of it was as masterful as that of other books. I’ve read winners and thought, “no kid is going to want to read this” but I could still appreciate and understand why it won. I wish I could say that for “Market”. Ah, well. On to a new year of reading.
    Thanks for stopping by Emily!


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