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…..

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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?

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Picture Book Palooza!

I’ve been reading a LOT of picture books lately so I couldn’t help but notice the trend of books with black and white illustrations using pops of color or change in perspective to move the reader through the story.

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Lenny & Lucy is the newest title by one of my favorite storytelling teams. Normally I love their books.  Hello, My Name Is Ruby is one of my all time favorites. But L&L, while beautifully illustrated, seemed bizarre and those leaf people are just plain creepy. Sidewalk Flowers is gorgeous. I’d frame and hang every page on my wall if I could. Sadly, it’s not eligible for the Caldecott. Float is getting tons of Caldecott buzz and while it’s telling a good story and shows great use of perspective it’s not nearly as good looking as this book of real and imaginary homes.

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By the way, can we be done nitpicking every. single. book. apart for the slightest hint of ‘racially inappropriate problematic content’? It must be exhausting always finding something to complain about. According to one review, this book is guilty of  “problematic content”. I’m pretty sure the 3-6-year-old crowd doesn’t bring that perspective to books they read. Not every book is an affront to a culture. Sometimes, a story is just a story worthy of being enjoyed on that basis alone.

I’m guilty of judging books, especially picture books, by their covers. If the cover doesn’t grab me I probably won’t read it. I have been proven spectacularly wrong on this in the past but it’s a hard habit to break. So when this book first came across my desk I flipped through it and moved on.

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Then it came to me again and I decided to actually read it while I was at work on the desk. OMG, big mistake because when I got to the end I got teary eyed. This picture book made me cry. In my defense, I’m not a cryer and I most certainly have never, ever, ever cried over a picture book! A quick skim of Goodreads reviews told me I wasn’t alone in that reaction which made me feel a lot less crazy. Oh, the feels in this book will hit you. Hard. Beautiful illustrations and a tender story of love, loss and acceptance. Excellent example of the depth of meaning that can be conveyed within the pages of a picture book. This is picture book storytelling at its best.

What were your favorite picture books this year?