I was pleasantly surprised by this year’s choice because the Newbery doesn’t often go to fantasies and because of the frequent tendency for Newbery books to be ‘good’ books, as in good-for-you. Even Mr. Gaiman seemed surprised, saying that “there are books that are best sellers and books that are winners.” Popularity is not a consideration for the Newbery award (and rightly so), but there’s been a lot of debate in the library world recently about the obscurity of the most recent winners.
As a child I resisted reading ‘good’ books, preferring escapism to character-building. As an adult, I know that I missed out on some excellent stories the child-me would have loved. As a librarian, I’m trying to get those excellent stories to children who are just as reluctant as I was to read a ‘good’ book. So I’m happy that this year’s Newbery choice means the good and the popular are on the same page.
I always love looking at the Caldecott books and this year the award for the most distinguished picture book for children goes to The House in the Night, illustrated by Beth Krommes and written by Susan Marie Swanson.
The ALA makes lots of other awards as well, including the Odyssey Award for audiobooks. One of this year’s Odyssey Honor nominees is Martina the Beautiful Cockroach: A Cuban Folktale, written and narrated by local author and DCPL favorite Carmen Agra Deedy. Congratulations to Ms. Deedy, Mr. Gaiman, Ms. Krommes and all the other winners and nominees!