Watching this year’s ALA/ALSC webcast (once I finally managed to get in, after multiple tries) was a strange experience. As each award category came up, my reaction was usually “Yay!” or at least “Okay!!” Loved the Sibert Committee’s choices for juvenile nonfiction, loved the Printz, the King and Steptoe Awards, thought the Caldecott was fine (though I had thought Flotsam was very similar conceptually to last year’s honor book The Red Book, so the choice surprised me)….and then they announce the oldest and most important medal last, the Newbery. And as each choice came up on the screen, I found myself saying, “I don’t know that one….I don’t know that one…that one sounds a little familiar…I never even HEARD of the gold medal winner! Wha????”
It’s just very odd and a teensy bit embarrassing to be reviewing for two journals, and signing off on all of my department’s hundreds of orders, and to come up not knowing each of the winners. I’m not criticizing the committee’s choices–how could I, since I haven’t read them yet? The one consolation is that everyone seems to have been equally taken off guard.
My favorite part about the awards is that the late James Marshall won the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award for “a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children”. I think it’s appropriately childlike and subversive that the list of the great author/illustrator’s works includes titles like The Stupids Step Out.