I couldn’t be more thrilled by the Newbery Committee’s picks, esp. giving the top honor to the wonderful Laura Amy Schlitz’s unconventional book Good Masters, Sweet Ladies: Voices from a Medieval Village. I thought her book A Drowned Maiden’s Tale was overlooked last year, but she sure wasn’t overlooked this one! Bravo to the Newbery Committee and all of their choices.
I also loved all of the choices on the Caldecott Committee’s list, but being the stick-in-the-mud that I am, I didn’t agree that their top choice should have been on the list at all. It’s not exactly the committee’s fault. They just interpreted the criteria completely literally. There’s nothing in the criteria that says a picture book has to be, well, a picture book. But since it’s a literary award given out by the American Library Association, I think they need to interpret picture book more narrowly to include the criteria that a picture book is a book that is shelved in the picture book section. Nobody would call The Invention of Hugo Cabret a picture book, except someone using the Caldecott criteria.
Now the door has been opened for that award to be interpreted much more broadly. It has always been for up to age 14, and I have no quarrel with that. But it will bring in graphic novels of all kinds, and so very disparate forms will be vying for the same award. We need a new award to cover the newer forms, and let the Caldecott be for picture books as we interpret it in the real world as it has always been.
Did I mention that Hugo Cabret is one of my very favorite books of the year? Because it is!