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


The world is full of awards for literature—the National Book Award, the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, the Edgar Allan Poe Award—but a recent conference introduced me to one I had not been familiar with before.

Named after a child born with cerebral palsy, the Dolly Gray Children’s Literature Award is given every other year to the authors and illustrators of books, written for children and young adults, that show an accurate portrayal of individuals with developmental disabilities.

The award-winning titles feature characters with a range of disabilities, from Autism or Down Syndrome to intellectual disabilities that cause trouble in school.  The authors give us good stories with a lot of heart and help us genuinely empathize with the characters.

A few books I had read and loved previously went on to win this award:

scarA Small White Scar by K. A. Nuzum

In the summer of 1940, all Will wants to do is get away.  He’s sick of working the family ranch, sick of his father holding him back from what he wants to do, and sick of taking care of his twin brother, Denny, who has Down Syndrome.  But when Will decides to run away to compete in a rodeo, Denny follows.


The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowdlondon

Salim got on the London Eye Ferris Wheel—his cousins Kat and Ted watched.  But when the ride stopped a half hour later, Salim was nowhere to be found.  The police can’t find him, but Kat and Ted, making use of Ted’s unique way of viewing the world, are on the case.

rememberRemember Dippy by Shirley Reva Vernick

Johnny planned on enjoying his summer, but a change in his mom’s plans means he has to stay with his aunt and take care of his older, autistic cousin, Remember.  Will a pet ferret and the weather channel be enough to save Johnny from complete boredom?


The Dolly Gray Children’s Literature Award is a collaboration between the Division on Autism and Developmental Disabilities, the Council for Exceptional Children, and the Special Needs Project.  For more information about the award, and a full list of winners, click here.


Oct 31 2014

Picture this!

by Dea Anne M

I have always loved children’s picture books. Working for DCPL is especially animaliarewarding in this regard as I am exposed to so many wonderful picture books both new and old. I even have a small collection of favorites at home. One of my most treasured books is Graeme Base’s fun and elaborate alphabet book Animalia. While this book has won several awards in Australia, it did not win the Caldecott Medal. Indeed, by the rules of the Caldecott committee, Base as an Australian author/illustrator would not have been eligible as the Caldecott is awarded each year to the “most distinguished American picture book for children.” Since its inception in 1938, the Caldecott medal has been lionawarded to many worthy and wonderful titles including Make Way for Ducklings (1942) by Robert McCloskey, Where the Wild Things Are (1964) by Maurice Sendak, and The Lion and the Mouse (2010) by Jerry Pinkney. You’ll find a complete list of Caldecott Medal winners and honor books here.  You can view Caldecott winners owned by DCPL on our Pinterest page. The board for the winners 1938-1976 is here and the winners 1977-2014 are here.

Speaking of Pinterest, be sure to check out a brand new feature that DCPL is offering through our Pinterest collection.  Inspired by the spirit of the this bookCaldecott awards, DCPL Youth Services staff will regularly be nominating theme-appropriate picture books and you can help us pick each month’s winner by “liking” your favorite (click the little heart button). Check out November’s “Dekalbecott” nominees here. The theme is fall inspired picture books and nominees include such fun titles as Fall Ball by Peter McCarty, Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet, and (probably my favorite) This Book Just Ate My Dog! by Richard Byrne.

What are your favorite picture books?


Billy Joel biography coverI grew up listening to the music of Billy Joel. My family would sing classics like “Piano Man” and “The Longest Time” on car trips and jam out to “We Didn’t Start The Fire” and “The Downeaster Alexa” when they came on the radio. To this day he remains one of my favorite musicians to sing along with.

I’m not alone in my appreciation of Bill Joel. On July 22nd, the Librarian of Congress, James H. Billington, named Billy Joel as the next recipient of the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. The Gershwin Prize for Popular Song is an award given to a composer or performer for lifetime contributions to popular music. Previous recipients include such notable names as Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Sir Paul McCartney, and Carole King.

Billington explains the selection of Billy Joel as the next award winner:

“Billy Joel is a storyteller of the highest order. There is an intimacy to his songwriting that bridges the gap between the listener and the worlds he shares through music. When you listen to a Billy Joel song, you know about the people and the place and what happened there. And while there may be pain, despair and loss, there is ultimately a resilience to it that makes you want to go to these places again and again.

Importantly, as with any good storyteller, the recognition experienced in a Billy Joel song is not simply because these are songs we have heard so many times, but because we see something of ourselves in them.”

Reacting to news of the announcement, Joel said, “The great composer, George Gershwin, has been a personal inspiration to me throughout my career. And the Library’s decision to include me among those songwriters who have been past recipients is a milestone for me.”

Joel has reached a number of impressive milestones throughout his 50 years in the entertainment industry; he is the sixth top-selling artist of all time and the third top-selling solo artist of all time, according to the Recording Industry Association of America, and is also the winner of six Grammy Awards.

If you want to see what all the fuss is about, DCPL has a plethora of Billy Joel related material available in our catalog. For those interested in learning more about the man behind the music, check out this biography of him by author Hank Bordowitz.

Popular music has changed a lot over the past few decades, with rock music in particular experiencing various permutations and divisions. We have alternative rock, indie rock, southern rock, surf rock, soft rock, hard rock, classic rock…the list goes on. But no matter what varieties the modern scene has morphed into, the music of Bill Joel is still rock and roll to me.


May 27 2014

2013 Bram Stoker Award Winners

by Jesse M

bsawinners2013A couple of weekends ago, the Horror Writers Association handed out its annual Bram Stoker Awards at the World Horror Convention in Portland. In all, fourteen haunted-house statuettes were awarded to the writers responsible for creating superior works of horror in 2013. Notable recipients included Stephen King and R.L. Stine. You can view the full list of winners here.

Stephen King won in the “Superior Achievement in a NOVEL” category for Doctor Sleep (a sequel to his 1977 novel The Shining). King, arguably one of the most well-known writers of popular fiction alive today, is famous for the plethora of his novels that have been adapted into successful films, including The Shining, Stand by Me, and The Shawshank Redemption, among many others.

R.L. Stine was one of two people honored with a lifetime achievement award (the other was editor Stephen Jones). This prestigious award is given in recognition of the recipient’s overall body of work. Throughout R.L. Stine’s lengthy career he has written fiction for kids, teens, and adults, and is responsible for the very popular Goosebumps series, among many others (including Fear Street, Mostly Ghostly, The Nightmare Room, and Rotten School series).

You can view a video of the awards ceremony here.

Horror fans may be interested to know that next year’s awards will be held here in Atlanta.


YouthMediaAwardsThe moment we’ve all been waiting for has come! Well, maybe we haven’t all been waiting for this, but if you are a children’s librarian or into children’s books, the American Library Association’s annual announcement of the best books and audiobooks in children’s and teen literature is pretty exciting stuff. So let’s get to it! DCPL Youth Services Librarians and staff recently had its own Mock Caldecott election, for which we chose Extra Yarn illustrated by Jon Klassen, so I was highly anticipating these results. The Caldecott is given to the illustrator with the most notable children’s picture book and this year marks the 75th anniversary of the award.

And the 2013 Caldecott Award goes to:

This Is Not My Hat illustrated and written by Jon Klassen


The honor books are:

Creepy Carrots! illustrated by Peter Brown, written by Aaron Reynolds


Extra Yarn illustrated by Jon Klassen, written by Mac Barnett

extra yarn

Green illustrated and written by Laura Vaccaro Seeger


One Cool Friend illustrated by David Small, written by Toni Buzzeo


Sleep Like a Tiger illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski, written by Mary Logue


Love these choices! I’m not too surprised with these winners and am thrilled that a few of my personal favorites were chosen, including, of course, Extra Yarn, illustrated by Jon Klassen. He cleaned up this year by taking home an honor award and the top prize for This Is Not My Hat.  A follow up to his 2011 picture book, I Want My Hat Back, This Is Not My Hat is a must-read not just for its beautiful illustrations but for the very humorous storytelling with an ending that leaves readers a lot to ponder. You can check out some of his charming illustrations at http://jonklassen.tumblr.com/

I also loved that Creepy Carrots was chosen. With a description like this (from Simon and Schuster) how could it not be award winning? :

The Twilight Zone comes to the carrot patch in this clever picture book parable about a rabbit who fears his favorite treats are out to get him.

It’s funny and witty, and of course, creepy and makes for a great read-aloud!

What do you think of the Caldecott committee’s choices this year? Are there any books that you felt were more deserving?

The Newbery Award is given to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children and this year’s award went to Katherine Applegate’s The One and Only Ivan.


And the Newbery Honor Books are (click on the picture to take you to the catalog listing):





The Caldecott and Newbery are the highest of the awards but there are many other notable awards including the Coretta Scott King Award, Printz, Belpré and more. For a full list of winners, click here.


Jan 21 2013

DCPL Mock Caldecott Winners

by Nancy M

untitledThis past year, DeKalb County Public Library Youth Services Librarians and staff have been reading, reviewing and voting on picture book titles leading up to our first ever Mock Caldecott election. The Caldecott Medal is a prestigious children’s award that has been given out since 1938 to the illustrator with the most distinguished picture book. Recently, we all came together for our final vote and here are the results:

The 2013 DCPL Mock Caldecott Medal goes to…

extra yarnExtra Yarn illustrated by Jon Klassen and written by Mac Barnett



Our Honor Books are:

bootandshoeBoot and Shoe written and illustrated by Marla Frazee



indexChloe written and illustrated by Peter McCarty



indexCindy Moo illustrated by Jeff Mack and written by Lori Mortensen



indexBear Has a Story to Tell illustrated by Erin Stead and written by Philip C. Stead


It was a tight election and there were many beautiful picture books to choose from in 2012. This was our third and final vote and you can check out our past finalists here. Here are some more picture books that did not make our final vote but are definitely worth a read. Click on the title to be taken to the DCPL catalog.









The real Caldecott Medal will be awarded on Monday, January 28 along with many other American Library Association children’s and young adult book awards including the Newbery Medal and the Coretta Scott King Book Award. You can view the winners here and check back to DCPLive that week for a listing and to share your thoughts.


Jan 7 2013

Young Adult Literature …too fluffy?

by Amanda L

As a librarian who serves teens, I am always reading other blogs to find good reads, ideas for programming, etc. The organization, Young Adult Library Association (YALSA), has a blog called the Hub about Young Adult literature that I love to read.  Last month, Maria Kramer posted about a statement made in an article in England’s The Independent about the changes with the Common Core Standards and reading in America. The exact quote from The Independent which created a lot of discussion was “Tackling rich literature is the best way to prepare students for careers and college, said [Sandra] Stotsky, who blames mediocre national reading scores on weak young adult literature popular since the 1960s.”

The Jungle by Upton SinclairWhile reading both the Hub post and the article in The Independent, two thoughts immediately came to me. First, I read nonfiction books in social studies and science classes instead of English classes. I remember reading Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America in my high school freshman class in addition to Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. These books helped make history come alive to me and gave context to what we were studying. The second thought is that while I do read literary works, they are not what I enjoy reading. I would rather read a plot driven book over a literary work any day. That having been said, I think reading a variety of books stretches one’s knowledge and taste. Ms. Kramer also cites a research study written by the National Literacy Trust which reveals that reading for pleasure is linked to a variety of literacy benefits including vocabulary building and self-confidence as a reader. The study also shows that those teens who read for pleasure perform at a higher level on reading comprehension portions of standardized tests. Finally, readers who can choose what they read enjoy reading more and are more motivated to read.

We've Got a JobEven as the core standards are rolled out over the next few years, more nonfiction for young adults will be written in the narrative form. I recently read all of the nominees for the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults. I especially enjoyed two of the  nominees because they made a period of history come alive.  Titanic: voices from the disaster by Deborah Hopkins was told through a variety of people and their written or oral accounts of their experience on the Titanic. She also included photographs and documents from the Titanic. The second nominee that I enjoyed was We’ve Got a Job: the 1963 Birmingham Children’s March by Cynthia Levinson. Similar to the Titanic book, We’ve Got a Job tackles the 1963 Birmingham Children’s March through the voices of several of the teen participants of this march. Their first hand accounts brought the civil rights movement to life for me.

Shelter by Harlan CobenEvery year YALSA has a variety of book awards and lists. The awards are announced during the Mid Winter Conference towards the end of January. This year the awards will be announced on January 28, 2013 and will be webcast. The book awards are for high quality literature broken into a variety of categories from first time author (Morris Award) to adult books with teen appeal (Alex Award). The only nominees that will be announced prior to the awards are the Excellence in Nonfiction and Morris Awards. I can’t wait to see which books will win and which will be nominated. Looking back at the young adult books that I have read this year that were released in 2012, my favorites so far are I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga, BZRK by Michael Grant and Shelter by Harlan Coben. As with anything there will always be debates. Do you think young adult literature is too fluffy? What young  adult book or books have you read that were published this year that you would recommend?


Aug 24 2011

Double lives and new frontiers

by Dea Anne M

August 24th is the birthday of American science fiction author Alice Bradley Sheldon who is better known to the world by her pen name, James Tiptree Jr. Sheldon adopted the pseudonym when she began to publish science fiction around 1967. Her work won quite a bit of acclaim through the years but it wasn’t until 1977  that the public discovered that Tiptree was a woman. Apparently, Tiptree was afraid that her work would suffer negative feedback if her true gender was known and she also seemed to have concerns about exciting the wrong sort of notoriety by being a woman publishing in what had traditionally been a male-dominated genre. In an interview, Tiptree said “I had the feeling that a man would slip by less observed. I’ve had too many experiences in my life of being the first woman in some damned occupation.” Indeed, Alice Sheldon had been in Air Force photo-intelligence, the CIA, and had received a doctorate in experimental psychology.

Tiptree was a unique stylist who expressed an often dark vision in her fiction. Some of her more famous pieces, such as “The Women That Men Don’t See” and the novella, Houston, Houston Do You Read?,  deal with gender and sexual politics in very interesting and surprising ways. In 1991, science fiction authors Pat Murphy and Karen Joy Fowler established the James Tiptree Jr. Award, an annual prize given to works of science fiction and fantasy that expand or explore our understanding of gender. If you’re in the mood to sample some of these award winners, DCPL has several to choose from. Some of these are:

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness (2008), Camouflage by Joe Haldeman (2004), Set This House In Order: a romance of souls by Matt Ruff (2003), Wild Life by Molly Gloss (2000), Black Wine by Candas Jane Dorsey (1997), The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell (1996), Waking the Moon by Elizabeth Hand (I highly recommend this one!) and Memoirs of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Theodore Roszak (both books won in 1995) , Woman of the Iron People by Eleanor Arnason (1991), and White Queen by Gwyneth Jones (also 1991).

Would you like to sample Tiptree’s writing for yourself? DCPL has these titles:

Crown of Stars

Byte Beautiful: eight science fiction stories

Her Smoke Rose Up Forever: the great years of James Tiptree Jr.

If you want to learn more about this brilliant and unusual writer and woman, don’t miss James Tiptree Jr.: the double life of Alice B. Sheldon. In a starred review, Publisher’s Weekly called this book “…a wonder: an even handed, scrupulously documented, objective yet sympathetic portrait of a deliberately elusive personality…”


Sep 15 2010

I Love My Librarian!

by Joseph M

Libraries are more than just the materials on their shelves, more than the myriad databases and other electronic services offered on their websites; libraries also consist of the dedicated individuals who staff the branches. While all library workers can and do provide excellent service to the public, librarians in particular have devoted considerable amounts of time and resources to earn a masters degree, so as to better provide excellent service to library users. The American Library Association (with support from Carnegie Corporation of New York and The New York Times) has established the I Love My Librarian Award, now in its third year, to recognize outstanding librarians in public and academic settings. Has a librarian touched your life? Visit this website to nominate worthy individuals and learn more about the award.


imagesThis past Monday the American Library Association announced the year’s best in children’s books and media. This much anticipated event includes a couple of the most well-known and prestigious awards- The Newbery and Caldecott Medals. The Newbery Medal is awarded to the author with the most outstanding contribution to American literature for children and has been awarded since 1922. The Caldecott Medal, awarded since 1937, is given to the artist with the most distinguished American children’s picture book.

And so, without further ado, the winner of this year’s Newbery Medal is:

Stead When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

And the winner of the Caldecott Medal is:

lion The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney

For a complete list of youth awards given this year, check out the American Library Association’s website.