105 Ways to Give a Book

Geisel, Carnegie, Silbert, and Odyssey

I did plan to get back to the ALA Youth Media Awards before today, but I’ve been fighting an altogether annoying cold. It’s hard to focus on writing anything more than a sentence or two, but I’m going to try to get through a few more awards and reactions and hope that kicks my brain back into gear. So let’s go back to...

The Geisel Award, which goes to Bink and Gollie — written by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee, illustrated by Tony Fucile — with two honor books named: Ling & Ting: Not Exactly the Same! by Grace Lin, and We Are in a Book! by Mo Willems. These were the only titles I heard tossed around for this award, so that all three should get distinction is no big surprise. What does seem odd to me, though, is giving the “Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for the most distinguished beginning reader book” to a title that isn’t a beginning reader book. I kinda thought that there were very specific criteria for what makes a beginning reader book, and I didn’t think this winner was it. But whatever.

The Andrew Carnegie Medal is given for excellence in children’s video, and is often jokingly called the Weston Woods Award, as this seems to be the only group making videos of children’s books, thus narrowing the field significantly. (In fact, I think I may have just discovered a new career.) In any case, the honor went to Paul R. Gagne and Melissa Reilly Ellard of Weston Woods, for The Curious Garden. I liked the book quite well, and it was a Cybils finalist last year. As for the video, what up with the British narrator? Like an American isn’t good enough for you? And wasn’t the garden inspired by the elevated New York City gardens? If you needed a distinct accent, perhaps you should have headed to Brooklyn instead of across the pond.

I have the personal distinction of having read none of the winners of the Robert F. Sibert Medal for most distinguished informational book for children. (Thank you — thank you very much.) Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World’s Strangest Parrot, written by Sy Montgomery, featuring photographs by Nic Bishop, is the 2011 Sibert Award winner. Two Sibert Honor Books were named: Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring, written by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan, illustrated by Brian Floca, and Lafayette and the American Revolution, written by Russell Freedman. I’ve heard wonderful things about the first two books, and I have been loving Nic Bishop’s photography and Brian Floca’s artwork for years, so I’m happy for the acknowledgment for them both. Can’t say much about the third title, but I’m sure it is among the most interesting books written about the American Revolution.

I generally don’t have interest in the Odyssey Award, because I’m personally unable to listen to audio books without mentally drifting off. But I was excited by the surprise winner — and I mean a surprise to the winner himself, who had no idea his book was even being considered — The True Meaning of Smekday. The book is written by Adam Rex and narrated by Bahni Turpin. One of my favorite books, and I’m glad to see it get some notice in any format.

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10 comments:

fourth musketeer said...

I'm currently listening to The Knife of Letting Go, one of the audiobook honorees, and it is fabulous. I hope I can find the sequels on audiobook also because the narrator is terrific. I especially liked his voice for the dog in the story.

Pen and Ink said...

Thanks for the update. I will go read Ling and Ting and We are in A Book. I love Lin and Willems. I will glance curiously at the de Camillo.
I had no idea there was a Carnegie medal for Chilren's video.
We need to think up our own award...

madelyn said...

I've become a huge fan of audio books for car trips, and the way they're put together makes such a huge difference. Glad to know Smekday got a good reader! (You'll be happy to know that Junie B did, too.)

MotherReader said...

Madelyn, Junie B Jones books are the only audiobooks I've ever been able to enjoy. The narrator is amazing, and makes the stories even funnier than reading them in print. I can still listen to those on trips and laugh.

Even in Australia said...

Bink and Gollie is NOT a beginning reader. It's not even appropriate to be read TO a beginning reader. My 5yo could not really follow the slangy language or figure out who was speaking when. Speaking of which, we also found Interrupting Chicken hard to follow. Amusing for an adult but not a child, in my opinion. We love David Ezra Stein's other books, though, esp. Pouch!

Anonymous said...

The most disappointing thing I have heard about this year's awards was that the Today Show, which has for years interviewed the Newbery and Caldecott winners the day after the announcements, instead ditched them for an interview with Jersey Shore's Snooki.

Kristin McIlhagga said...

My 6-year-old and I were both thrilled Bink & Gollie and We Are In a Book. We actually went out to purchase our own copies the next day. I'm not sure about the exact designation for "early reader" but I will say that my daughter didn't "get" everything in them until after we'd read through them a few times, particularly We Are In a Book. With both titles, I'm struck by how much is "said" with such brevity - both in the text as well as the illustrations.

I absolutely love Ballet For Martha and have read it quite a few times. Appalachian Spring (the music/ballet/set that the story is about) is one of my all-time-favorite pieces of music. From the first time I picked up the book, I felt that the illustrations particularly reflect the overall feel of the piece.

Brimful Curiosities said...

Your statement about Bink & Gollie made me curious as to the definition of a beginning reader. My daughter is what I would consider a beginning reader (kindergarten), and, while she loves "Bink & Gollie" (it's the book she requested for her Christmas gift after checking out from the library), she's no where near reading it herself yet. I found the ALA page with the criteria and "Bink & Gollie" looks like it qualifies, but just barely and possibly with a little stretching.

Now, "We Are in a Book" she is able to easily read all by herself already and she absolutely ADORES every single page.

Beth said...

I can only listen to audio books in the car, and I vastly prefer books I've already read.

himissjulie.com said...

Bink and Gollie is an engaging little book, but it does not exemplify what a beginning reader should be. A beginning reader is more than just "not a lot of words." The design in a beginning reader matters just as much as the content, and Bink and Gollie does not meet those design criteria. /end crankypants rant.