DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!
Jan 29 2009

2009 Newbery and Caldecott Award Winners

by Lesley B

On Monday, the American Library Association gave the John Newbery Award for the most distinguished contribution to children’s literature to Neil Gaiman for The Graveyard Book.

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!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Nolan January 30, 2009 at 10:42 AM

Somewhere on Neil Gaiman’s website, I found the link to this interview (which took place in a cab on his way back home from winning the award), and includes this quote:

“But children’s fiction can change the world and give you a refuge from the intolerable. It can give you a place of safety and show you the world is not bounded by the world you live in–there’s more than that.”


Somewhere at home I have an old Polaroid of me and Neil Gaiman that he drew all over before it developed, a trick that he said artist Dave McKean (illustrator of “The Graveyard Book” taught him.

Lesley January 30, 2009 at 1:37 PM

“The world is not bounded by the world you live in – there’s more than that.”

That’s great. I’ve been a fan of his for a while, and I like his adult stuff (except I’ll never reread some of the Sandman stories. Too much blood) but Coraline is my favorite — so far. Jealous of that Polaroid …

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