It's award season again! And in the Children's Department that means we're looking forward to the upcoming ALA Youth Media Awards. On Monday the 2014 winners of the Newbery, Caldecott, Printz, and Coretta Scott King Book Awards will be announced honoring the most distinguished books published in 2013. In particular, the Caldecott is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children to the artist of the most outstanding American picture book for children. For the second year in a row we put together what we've deemed the CaldecartTM, a library cart full of picture books published last year. For the first Caldecart we looked at around 30 books. This year we went crazy with 66 to peruse and evaluate!
“Before they read words, children are reading pictures. In picture books, the illustrations work in concert with the text in a way that is unique among art forms.”
In the forward to Show Me a Story! Why Picture Books Matter: Conversations with 21 of the World’s Most Celebrated Illustrators, award-winning author and illustrator David Wiesner explains why we celebrate National Picture Book Month in November (actually, MCPL Children’s Services Librarians celebrate them year-round! Here’s more from Wiesner about why we love picturebooks…):
It's that time of year again, awards season! Sure the Oscars and Golden Globes may get the most media attention, but the announcement every children's librarian looks forward to is the Caldecott Medal. Each year the Caldecott Medal is awarded by the Association for Library Service to Children to "the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children". The ALSC may also name a few runners-up, or Honor Books. We'll learn the 2013 medal winner tomorrow, Monday, January 28th.
So who will win the 2013 medal? In anticipation of this year's announcement our Children's Department pulled as many contenders as we could find. We chose our books based on recommendations from School Library Journal, Horn Book, and the more populist list put together by Goodreads. We dubbed our cart of thirty-some books "The Caldecart" and over the past week we've read as many of them as we could, making notes and picking our favorites. Was there a consensus? Nope! But here are a few of the books we liked the best and a few on which we couldn't quite agree.
With a wry wit honed as an Emmy Award winning writer and animator for Sesame Street, author and illustrator Mo Willems broke into the world of Children's Literature in a big way in 2003 with a bus obsessed pigeon. The following year he endeared himself to children and parents alike with his spot on depiction of a distraught toddler who has lost her stuffed animal in the picturebook Knuffle Bunny, which also earned Willems his second Caldecott Honor medal from the American Library Association (ALA).
But it was Willems' Elephant and Piggie books for early readers that secured his renown as "the Dr. Seuss of this generation." In fact, his first Elephant and Piggie book: There is a Bird on Your Head! received the 2008 Geisel Award Medal, which the ALA gives to the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished American book for beginning readers published in English in the United States during the preceding year. The winners are recognized especially for their ability to creatively and imaginatively engage children in reading. Willems won the Geisel Award again in 2009 for his second Elephant and Piggie book: Are You Ready to Play Outside? He received the Geisel Honor Award in 2011 and 2012 for the Elephant and Piggie stories: We Are in a Book! and I Broke My Trunk.
If you haven't yet introduced your beginner reader to an Elephant and Piggie story -- there are now 17 to choose from -- each one as delightful as the next, all featuring large type and short sentences that manage to convey the charming friendship Elephant and Piggie share. (If Willems is this generation's Dr. Seuss, Elephant and Piggie are this generation's Frog and Toad -- good friends who appear in the beginner reader stories by Arnold Lobel.)
Whether you are a brand new or longtime fan of Elephant and Piggie, you are sure to enjoy meeting them this Friday, April 13 at 4:30 pm when we will be sharing some of their stories, a short film, and a craft celebrating their adventures together. Call us at 349-3100, or register online to reserve a seat. And stop by the reference desk between 2:30 and 4 pm Friday afternoon to try out the "Don't Let the Pigeon Run this App" activity we have on our iPads. In the meantime, you can create a dance for Elephant and Piggie at The Pigeon Presents website, or visit Mo Willems' website to find more fun and games!
On Monday, January 23, we will be celebrating award-winning books all day with special programs. The American Library Association announces the 2012 Youth Media award winners at around 8 am that morning. Join us at 10 am for a special storytime where we will feature picture books from years past that have won a Caldecott Award for their illustrations.
Last year's winner, A Sick Day for Amos McGee, is especially popular this time of year when sniffles and sneezes run rampant. Amos is a zookeeper who consistently cares for his friends at the zoo, always making time to play chess with the elephant and run races with the tortoise. When he is too sick to take the bus to the zoo one morning, his friends decide to travel to him! They cheer him up with some quiet, sitting-in-bed activities. Amos feels better by the end of the day, and the visit turns into a sleepover. Since the story concludes with everyone saying goodnight to each other and looking forward to the next day, this soothing picturebook serves as a gentle bedtime story, too, with appeal to ages 3-8.