The American Library Association announced the winners of their major 2013 book awards on Monday, and the award that always catches my attention is the Caldecott Medal, named in honor of nineteenth-century illustrator Randolph Caldecott. The award is presented to “the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children” from the past year, and former winners include such Building a Library favorites as A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka, A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Erin and Philip Stead, Flotsam by David Wiesner, and many, many more. This year, the 2013 Caldecott Medal was awarded to This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen.

This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen

That fish totally stole that hat and now he’s being rewarded?

I couldn’t be happier about this selection. I wrote a glowing review of Klassen’s I Want My Hat Back last year, and This Is Not My Hat continues the hat-swapping fun. It’s a hysterical read and absolutely gorgeous to look at. The ALA also named five Caldecott Honor Books for 2013Creepy Carrots!, illustrated by Peter Brown (artist of the great The Purple Kangaroo and Children Make Terrible Pets), written by Aaron Reynolds; Extra Yarn, illustrated by Jon Klassen (winning a Medal and an Honor Citation.. nice), written by Mac Barnett (author of the hilarious Chloe and the Lion); Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger; One Cool Friend, illustrated by David Small (creator of one of our favorite books ever, Imogene’s Antlers), written by Toni Buzzeo; and Sleep Like a Tiger, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski, written by Mary Logue.

We’ve read This Is Not My Hat, Creepy Carrots!, and Extra Yarn so far and definitely recommend them. We’re hoping to snag the rest soon, but I’m sure that, following the award announcements, their library hold lists exploded. BUT, if you’d like to sample this year’s Caldecott books before you get in line at the library, I put together this collection of book trailers and videos for all of the 2013 Caldecott honorees. First up, let’s take a look at the book trailer for the 2013 Caldecott Medal winner This Is Not My Hat.

Next, Peter Brown talks about how The Twilight Zone inspired his artwork for Creepy Carrots.

This fan-produced book trailer for Extra Yarn gives you a very cool, very thorough look at Jon Klassen’s fantastic artwork. [read the rest of the post…]


A Ball for Daisy

A Ball for Daisy: Winner of this year's Caldecott Medal

Earlier this week, Chris Raschka’s A Ball for Daisy won the 2012 Caldecott Medal, the very prestigious annual award for the most distinguished American picture book for children.

Earlier this evening, I was flipping through Chris Raschka’s A Ball for Daisy as my daughter brushed her teeth and worrying that she wasn’t going to like it.

Why was I worried? Because, recently, my daughter, who turned five in November, has started to gravitate towards older and older skewing reading material. She still loves picture books and even has a few board books that she refuses to pack away with the rest of her toddler toys, but, lately, she’s shown increasing interest in early readers and chapter books. We’d just spent the past two days reading her the 128-page Lulu and the Brontosaurus by Judith Viorst and Lane Smith, and she’d loved it. It was a huge hit. (It’s both a beautiful and a hysterically funny chapter book. I definitely recommend it.) My wife and I began thinking, “OK, this is where we’re headed. More Mercy Watson, less Eric Carle.”

So, as I flipped through A Ball for Daisy, a wordless picture book with big, expressive illustrations that even the youngest of readers could appreciate, all I could think was “She might be too old for this.”

BUT, as frequent readers of this blog will recognize, there is one seemingly constant and unchangeable rule of parenting that I never seem to be able to escape. What’s that rule? The fact that – when I make a parental decision or even when I speak a particularly declarative sentence – I am almost always, always WRONG.

A Ball for Daisy

They're so cute together. I hope nothing ever happens to that ball...

My five year old didn’t just LIKE A Ball of Daisy. She adored it. This little 32-page book, with no words at all, brought out so many emotions from her in a short bedtime reading that I could barely believe it. And, once I finished reading, she was more animated and chatty about what she’d just read than I’d seen her be in a long time. It was one of the best bedtime reads we’d had in weeks and it all came from a book that five minutes earlier that I assumed she wouldn’t like. (My great apologies, Caldecott committee. I shouldn’t have doubted you.)

I think the reason that A Ball for Daisy worked so well for my daughter – and why it probably works so well for other children too – is that it very skillfully takes its reader on an emotional journey. The simple, yet achingly deep story is all about a cute dog named Daisy who LOVES her big red ball. How do we know she loves it? Because, in Raschka’s expressive drawings, you can see Daisy’s face light up and almost hear her tail wag whenever she’s near the ball. The kicker is the beautiful moment when Daisy, while trying to fall asleep, decides to cuddle up to her red ball on the couch. (Trust me. Cuddles go over HUGE with kids. My daughter let out an audible “Aww” at that part.)

Daisy’s owner takes Daisy and her ball on a walk to the park, and Daisy meets a new brown dog, who excitedly jumps in to play with Daisy’s ball. And then the unthinkable happens – the ball pops. It explodes in a little red burst and, suddenly, it’s gone. All that’s left is some red plastic, deflated and broken on the ground. [read the rest of the post…]

{ 1 comment }

Caldecott and Newbery Medals

You know those silver and gold medal stickers that you occasionally see on kids' books? THIS is where they come from...

This past Monday was one of the biggest days of the year for children’s and young adult publishing. It was AWARDS DAY – the day when the various award committees of the American Library Association (ALA) get together at their Midwinter Meeting and announce the recipients of the ALA Youth Media Awards, which rank among the most prestigious children and young adult literary awards in the world. It’s pretty much the Oscars for awesome kids’ books.

The prizes include the Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature; the Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children; the Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults; the Coretta Scott King Book Award recognizing an African American author and illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults; the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for the most distinguished beginning reader book; along with many, many other insanely renowned honors.

You can read a full breakdown of the various award categories and winners here. And you can find some wonderful coverage of the awards and award winners here or here.

I didn’t do a big breaking news announcement of “who won what” on Monday because a). this isn’t a breaking news site and b). unlike the Oscar nominations, where I mostly just complain about the quality of the nominees – How did “Life’s a Happy Song” from The Muppets get snubbed for best song? How? HOW?? – I take a much more reactionary approach to the ALA Youth Media Awards. [read the rest of the post…]