2012 Newbery and Caldecott winners announced
Whether we were required to read them for a long-forgotten school assignment or are now gifting them to a favorite youngster, Caldecott and Newbery Medal winners dance their way into our lives. Representing (in theory, at least) the best of kidlit, these stories sometimes inspire Oscar-nominated films (a la 2008 Caldecott winner The Invention of Hugo Cabret) or hilarious visions transformed into 90-second digital shorts by young readers.
Every year, new titles join that growing list; it happened again Monday when the Association for Library Service to Children (part of the 135-year-old American Library Association) awarded its Newbery and Caldecott Medals. While the Newbery Medal awards outstanding achievement in children’s literature, the Caldecott Medal highlights illustrations in American picture books for children.
Artist Chris Raschka won the 2012 Caldecott Medal for his playful picture book A Ball for Daisy. This wordless children’s story touches on the raw emotions that lead to and follow the loss of something beloved. Raschka now boasts his second Caldecott Medal; his illustrations for 2006’s The Hello, Goodbye Window also won him the honor in 2006. Meanwhile, novelist Jack Gantos received the 2012 Newberry Medal for his upper-middle-grade novel, Dead End in Norvelt. Published last September, this 1960s-set story follows young troublemaker Jack Gantos as he discovers the rich history in his hometown after his parents ground him.
We called a couple favorite local bookstores to get some experts’ reactions. “Raschka has a lively, fluid style,” comments Iris Yipp, co-owner of the Magic Tree Bookstore, an Oak Park staple she’s been running with her friend Rose Joseph for 27 years. Still, Yipp admits, “I thought Wonderstruck would win. Maybe [Wonderstruck and Hugo Cabret author] Brian Selznick won too recently, though.”
As for the young-adult novelist, “Gantos is great,” Yipp says. “He did deserve it. He’s contributed a lot [to children’s lit] over the years.”
“I like Gantos a lot. He has an interesting, offbeat life to draw from,” agrees Linda Bubon, co-owner of Andersonville bookstore Women & Children First. “He can relate to kids who get into trouble. His writing’s so funny and subversive. He’s supportive of children’s ups and downs.”