14 January 2008

Today's Newbery and Caldecott Mélange

This morning the American Library Association and its various unfathomable caucuses and divisions announced its awards, the most influential honors in US children's publishing.

The Newbery Medal, which usually goes to a middle-grade novel, was awarded to a picture book, albeit an unusually long one: Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!: Voices from a Medieval Village, written mostly in verse by Laura Amy Schlitz and illustrated by Robert Byrd.

The Caldecott Medal, which usually goes to a picture book, was awarded to a middle-grade novel: The Invention of Hugo Cabret, written and illustrated by Brian Selznick.

Not only were the medalists untraditional choices, but both those books expanded the bounds of their genres. Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! takes some elements of the recent flowering of nonfiction for young readers and adds fictional characters to produce an even more lively mix. Hugo Cabret broke new ground in its use of visuals within a novel (more so than in its writing and story, so Oz and Ends is happy that it popped up in the Caldecott category).

Among the lesser-known but eminent awards, the Robert F. Sibert Award for "the most distinguished informational book" went to Peter Sis's The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain. What makes this choice interesting is that Sis was a runner-up for the Caldecott, and Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! has more than a bit of "informational" in it, so it could have traded places with either medal-winner.

Orson Scott Card won the Margaret A. Edwards Award for "lifetime contribution in writing for young adults."


MotherReader said...

I know can you believe it all? Black is white, up is down, cats and dogs living together — mass hysteria!

Anonymous said...

And so much the better!