Beyond Newbery and Caldecott, Part I
Many parents, teachers and others who work with children (or simply love children's books) pay attention each January for the announcement of the Newbery Medal for the most distinguished writing for children and the Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished illustration. Kids across America recognize those shiny stickers and know what they mean -- some even participate in "Mock Newbery" and "Mock Caldecott" discussions or join Newbery and Caldecott book clubs.
However, many people (adults and children alike) do not realize that the American Library Association (ALA) gives out several other awards for distinction in different areas of children's literature. In this space, we'll be highlighting several of these award winners in our library collection.
First is the Coretta Scott King Award.
This award was first created in 1969 to honor Coretta Scott King and the life and legacy of her husband, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The first award for illustration was given in 1974. The Coretta Scott King Award became an official ALA Award in 1982, and the John Steptoe Award for New Talent was added in 1995.
The 2012 winners, which are all available at the Library, are:
Kadir Nelson, long known for his luminous illustrations, is becoming a double threat in writing and illustration; this work of narrative nonfiction received both the Author Award and an Illustrator Honor. Heart and Soul is a panoramic view of African-American history told in a kid-friendly voice like that of a grandparent speaking to a grandchild.
Shane Evans won the Illustrator Award for Underground. The dark color palette of the first pages conveys the suspense of a late night escape; the spare, poetic text makes the book accessible to young children, while carrying deeper meaning for the older ones. A helpful author's note in the back shares more information about the Underground Railroad.
Eloise Greenfield has been publishing poetry for children (such as her classic Honey, I Love) for more than 30 years, and she does it again with The Great Migration: Journey to the North, illustrated by Jan Spivey Gilchrist, which received an Author Honors. The short poems tell the story of the Great Migration through a variety of characters, creating a fuller picture of the time, just as recent Newbery winner Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!: Voices from a Medieval Village does for the medieval period.
Never Forgotten by Patricia McKissack, with illustrations by Leo and Diane Dillon, is this year's other Author Honor recipient. In a form that is part play, part poem cycle, McKissack uses African folklore to imagine the experiences and emotions of African families torn apart by the slave trade.