Monday, January 27, 2014

NEWS: 2014 Youth Media Awards—Tracy Weighs In

The 2014 Youth Media Awards were announced this morning! Last year I had so much fun posting about by reaction to the Youth Media Awards announcement that I can't resist a repeat this year. But if you prefer to skip my (mostly) approving commentary, feel free to skip directly to the official Press Release.

John Newbery Medal

Medal Winner: Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by ate DiCamillo
A new book by Kate DiCamillo automatically goes on my Newbery contender list, and Flora & Ulysses lived up to expectations. It's a smart and sensitive tale about friendship with plenty of laughter and adventures along the way. Ulysses's poetic compositions add a literary element to the romp, and the integration of graphic novel-style panels is both innovative and unexpected. Although overall I was much more enthused by 2012's MG offerings than those I read in 2013, Flora & Ulysses is a Newbery winner I can get behind.

Newbery Honor: Doll Bones by Holly Black
With Doll Bones released for middle-grade readers and The Coldest Girl in Coldtown for the YA market, Holly Black had a pretty busy year. Both titles generated a fair amount of awards buzz, but Doll Bones is the title I expected to see honored. I'm happy to see it make the list.

Newbery Honor: The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes
Last year's winner skewed a bit young in the Newbery reading age, as does The Year of Billy Miller, a simple yet engaging book about a year in the life of a second grader. It's rich in character development and offers up four vivid demonstrations of important childhood relationships in bite-size, accessible pieces for newly independent readers. I didn't expect to see it on this list, but like last year, I am glad to see that younger chapter-book readers aren't being ignored. Bravo!

Newbery Honor: One Came Home by Amy Timberlake
This is a book that only recently appeared on my radar thanks to its inclusion on NPR's Best Books list. It sounds like a very intriguing mystery indeed.

Newbery Honor: Paperboy by Vince Vawtor
So... I took this one home ages ago and still haven't gotten around to reading it yet. I guess I should get on that.

**What's Missing:
Navigating Early by Claire Vanderpool

I fully expected Claire Vanderpool to take home a second Newbery. Instead, Navigating Early earned her a Printz Honor. Given the recent inclusion of "younger" MG novels among Newbery winners and honorees, I wonder whether there is a concerted effort among the committees to shift tween books (for the 10–14 audience) more toward the YA end of the awards spectrum?

Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan
I adored Counting by 7s, a heartwarming, surprisingly funny book about a twelve-year-old girl coping with losing her parents and the various connections she makes in the process. Because some reviewers felt the ending was a bit too perfect, I wasn't really expecting a nod... but I hoped for one nonetheless.

Randolph Caldecott Medal

Medal Winner: Locomotive, illustrated and written by Brian Floca
I am soooo happy about this one. The text, images, and typography of Locomotive work together seamlessly to convey movement and wonder, skillfully evoking the sounds, sights, and even feel of 1869 train travel. (Also a Sibert Honor Book)

Caldecott Honor: Journey, illustrated and written by Aaron Becker
This was my favorite fiction picture book of the year and the title I expected would receive the medal. The magisterial artwork of this wordless picture book is wonderfully expressive and creates a strong narrative without any need of words—plus, it plays fantastic homage to Harold and the Purple Crayon. Read my review.

Caldecott Honor: Flora & the Flamingo, by Molly Idle
This wordless, lift-the-flap gem is yet another impressive example of visual storytelling. For me, it created the feeling of live animation—perhaps no surprise, given Idle's background in animation. Read my review and/or check out the fabulous book trailer to see what I mean.

Caldecott Honor: Mr. Wuffles!, illustrated and written by David Weisner
Silent picture book guru David Weisner was a frontrunner on pretty much everyone's Caldecott list. Mr. Wuffles! is an imaginative, comical tale that makes wonderful use of composition and color. Anyone else find it interesting that all three Caldecott honor books are wordless? Clearly wordless picture books were all the rage in 2013, and it's no wonder with such fabulous examples.

**What's Missing:
The Mightly Lalouche
, illustrated by Sophie Blackwell and written by Matthew Olshan
I knew this one was definitely an underdog, receiving little attention in the myriad Mock Caldecott races, but I loved this quietly captivating story of the little man who could. The pen-and-ink illustrations featuring three-dimensional cut outs create a bold, colorful, collage-like style that is both charming and reminiscent of a silent film after color is added in.

Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award
(Aka, the category where I am always shamefully underinformed...)

Medal Winner: P.S. Be Eleven by Rita Williams-Garcia
This one is also sitting at home in my out-of-control TBR pile. However, given that I haven't yet read its prequel (One Crazy Summer) either, I haven't been very motivated to pick it up. So I guess now I have a bit more incentive!

King (Author) Honor: March: Book One, written by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, illustrated by Nate Powell
Also sitting at home. At least this year I've heard of the books on the list! I have heard glowing reviews of this graphic-format work, and I am planning to read it ASAP.

King (Author) Honor: Darius & Twig by Walter Dean Myers
Walter Dean Myers is consistently awesome, but I haven't read this one either. Or his other 2013 release (Invasion), though I have been on the library hold list for a while now.

King (Author) Honor: Words with Wings by Nikki Grimes
I generally enjoy Grimes's poetry and fiction... so how did I miss hearing about this title? This is why I love awards lists—I discover so many wonderful books that I might've otherwise overlooked.

Coretta Scott King (Illustrator) Book Award

King (Illustrator) Medal: I, Too, Am America, illustrated by Bryan Collier and written by Langston Hughes
The imaginative use of collage and watercolor illuminates the text perfectly. I approve.

King (Illustrator) Honor: Nelson Mandela., illustrated and written by Kadir Nelson
Yay! I have yet to encounter a Kadir Nelson illustration I didn't adore. His paintings in Nelson Mandela do a fabulous job of conveying tension, emotions, and subtext.

Michael L. Printz Award

Medal Winner: Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick
Sedgwick uses recurring motifs and characters to build a novel of linked vignettes, creating an eerie novel of impressive style and structure. Unfortunately, the shifting of characters and timelines does not allow for much in the way of character development, so at the end I was pretty disinterested in the fate of Eric and Merle. Still, the literary merit is undeniable, so despite my personal ambivalence about the book, I'm not surprised (or even unhappy) to see it recognized by this year's committee.

Printz Honor: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
With lovely prose meditations and vibrantly realized characters, Rowell captures the pureness of first love without glossing over the ugly, awkward parts of life. I thought Eleanor & Park might be overlooked due to its extreme popularity, but I am glad to be proven wrong. Read my review.

Printz Honor: Kingdom of Little Wounds by Susann Cokal
I haven't yet read this layered, historical fiction novel, but it sounds so our-of-the-ordinary that I am very much looking forward to it.

Printz Honor: Navigating Early by Claire Vanderpool
As I have already noted, I expected this title to fall in the younger age category. In fact, I thought it would win the Newbery. An Odyssey-like adventure punctuated by intricate plotting and rich details, I am happy to see it honored regardless of the category.

**What's Missing:
I thought Patrick Ness's More Than This might get an honors nod, but I was wrong. Still, although I love Ness and appreciated the symbolism of his novel, it wasn't one of my favorites of the year. Far, Far Away had a lot of buzz too. Personally, my favorite unrecognized title was All the Truth That's in Me by Julie Berry. (I'm not naming Charm & Strange only because it nabbed the Morris Medal!)

Other ALA Award winners announced this morning include:

Charm & Strange
by Stepahnie Kuehn,  William C. Morris Award winner
I was completely mesmerized by this emotionally intense story about isolation and madness that weaves together two separate narratives. A fantastic combination of voice, character, and pacing kept me on edge from start to finish. In my opinion, this win was SO well deserved! Read my review.

Better Nate Than Never
by Tim Federle, Stonewall Honor Book
Nate's inner monologue and offbeat personality are laugh-out-loud funny, but the story also managed to dexterously address deeper issues, such as bullying, disappointment, family, religion, and sexuality. However, all of this is handled with a light touch, so that Nate is allowed to shine all on his own, without judgment or labels. I didn't think about this book when considering possible Stonewall recipients (probably because it is geared toward the MG market rather than YA), but I am so happy to see it recognized. I am eagerly looking forward to reading the sequel :)

Niño Wrestles the World, illustrated by Yuyi Morales, Pura Belpré (Illustrator) Award
This child's picture book in which a young boy imitates the melodramatic world of Mexican wrestling is hilarious and wonderfully illustrated.

Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina, Pura Belpré (Author) Award
I quite enjoyed this book and appreciated the authentic cultural details.

For a complete list of awards, winners, and honorees (if you're not sick of awards lists by now), you can read the ALA Press Release.

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