Posted by: jeannineatkins | February 3, 2009

Awards, Reviews, and Catching Up on Books

I love the internet; I blog, for one thing, so how could I not? But around the time when the big ALA awards are announced, I’m glad I started publishing before the internet came into my life. I knew the Newbery and Caldecott and some other awards were cool, but I didn’t have a clue about how those stickers got on books. Gradually I learned the ALA awarded the accolades late in January. Then I learned I could find a specific day. Now I can know within minutes of the announcements who won the awards, which is cool, but also a distraction. So much of my writing life is about trying to take the long view, and when things happen fast, when I can think along with others – oh, I’m glad about that, hmm, are they kidding –about that? – it’s kind of like being in a whirlwind book club.

On the other hand, I’m happy to celebrate any good news. My pick for the Caldecott was River of Words by Jen Bryant and illustrated by Melissa Sweet. Two weeks ago I told my husband, should I buy it now, or wait for the sticker? You’ll look more prescient if you get it without the sticker, so I did. I’m thrilled it got a Caldecott Honor.Melissa Sweet’s collages are always amazing. Carmine is her wonderful picture book take on Little Red Riding Hood. In River of Words, I love the celebration of William Carlos Williams (also in Sharon Creech’s verse novel, I Hate That Cat!; one favorite moment is when the narrator finds the poem about the cat creeping over a jam closet, titled Poem, and asks, “Was that Mr. William Carlos Williams kind of lazy?” In the context, at least, it’s funny!)

I love the Caldecott winner, too: Beth Krommes for Susan Marie’s Swanson’s The House in the Night. Krommes has done fantastic work – I’m especially fond of The Lamp, the Ice, and a Boat called Fish, an Artic story by Jacqueline Briggs Martin (who also wrote Snowflake Bentley).

And after having the Caldecott go to men for quite a number of years, it’s good to see women artists getting a turn. And for the first time a woman, Shadra Strickland, won the ALA’s John Steptoe Award for New Talent; this according to Jules at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast which I have no reason to doubt.

I’ve had Bird by Zetta Elliott on my table for a while: how do you regular reviewers keep up? I just blog very occassionally about books, but I’m so so so behind. And this is a picture book! It just seems to take forever to sit down and put some coherent words together. It took an award to put me to shame and nudge me: I’ll blog about Bird tomorrow!



  1. Ooh – fine point about the Caldecott going to a woman. There was so much discussion of it always going to men for the past few years, yet you’re the first person I’ve noticed to make a point of noting the gender issue this year. I’m so glad you did!
    (I got River of Words for Chanukah, and I love it – I’m pleased it doesn’t have a sticker.)

  2. The woman thing was actually brought to my attention in a recent discussion with Andy Laties, who runs the bookstore in the Eric Carle museum — fabulous, fabulous.
    And your review of River of Words convinced me to check it out. What gorgeousness.

  3. I hear you about the warped speed in which we now learn so many things about the awards. It makes my head spin too. I used to try and at least read about the potentially short-listed books so I could have some knowledge as the awards were announced but didn’t manage that this year at all.

  4. Ooh, River of Words–the title itself makes me want to read it! It’s funny now that my kids are out of PB’s, I’ve been way out of the loop.

  5. River of Words is amazing!! *Still sulking over Chains and Wabi Sabi getting ignored.*

  6. If you like the title, you’ll love the words inside! I was going to write more — but the topic just gave me an idea for a new blog. So thanks!!!

  7. I think there’s a place for us who read the award winning and other books not in the first month or even year. Glad to haver your company!

  8. I’m glad Laurie got that lifetime achievement award; makes me sulk less. But I will sulk with you anytime.

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