Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Awards Reactions

Since it's had about a day to sink in, here's what I think of the choices of YA and children's lit winners this year.

If I had to apply an adjective to this year's crop of winners, I would call it unsurprising. I'm happy for the winners, I can see why they won. Of the books on the list that I read, not one made me roll my eyes and go, "Come on!" At the same time, there was nothing that made my mouth drop open.

Newbery: The Graveyard Book's been chattered about on blogs and listservs since before the street date, and reportedly snags a lot of kids upon first reading. (That first page--woo!) I do have to wonder whether all the brouhaha about kid-friendly award winners influenced this choice. Don't jump on me--I think it's a well-written book and that it did deserve the award. But this was a good year for books, and to me The Graveyard Book didn't stand out that much from the other high-quality books out there. Of course, I don't have a particular one to offer in its place.

Printz: Haven't read Jellicoe Road yet, although this is another that I heard a lot of chatter about. I'm excited by the honors, especially for Terry Pratchett and E. Lockhart. Octavian Nothing II and Tender Morsels are the kind of books people give awards to.

Morris: I really like the idea of this freshman award, bringing attention to hot new authors in an exploding genre. If half what I've heard about A Curse as Dark as Gold is true, it's well deserved. I wish Graceling had taken it, but that's because I loved that book like whoa and damn and sit down dear, you're scaring the children.

Coretta Scott King: I'm delighted that We Are the Ship did a twofer: the award for writing and an honor for illustration. This isn't all that uncommon in more specialized awards (see the Pura Belpre, for instance), but it was well-deserved. Another blog (sorry, I don't remember which one) pointed out that it probably wouldn't get a Caldecott nod because the text and pictures aren't as interwoven as in the absolute best picture books. True, but taken separately, they're high quality.

Pura Belpre: As a Hispanic woman, I'm ashamed to admit that I haven't read any of the winners or honorees. Best I can tell you is that I've had Just in Case on my reading list for a year now, waiting for the library to order it.

Drop by Kid Tested, Librarian Approved for my take on the picture book and early reader winners.

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