Tag Archives: Newbery Medal

Lois Lensky Exhibit at Florida State University

Courtesy FSU Special Collections

Courtesy FSU Special Collections

Anyone living near Tallahassee would be well advised to check out a current exhibit at Florida State University featuring artwork by Lois Lenski, winner of the 1946 Newbery Medal for Strawberry Girl. The physical exhibit runs through September 30th. There is also a supplementary digital collection, available to all.

Press Release:

“The members of Dr. Teri Abstein’s spring 2013 Museum Object class have been working with Florida State University Special Collections to design the exhibit entitled Farms, Fields, and Florida: Lois Lenski Illustrating the South. Through materials that have not been on display since Lenski presented them herself, the exhibition highlights the children’s author’s connection with the rural south, focusing on the state of Florida. Showcasing tales such as Bayou Suzette (recounting the life of a young Cajun girl in Louisiana), Strawberry Girl (the Newbery Award winning novel depicting the life of a young Cracker girl in Florida), and Judy’s Journey (tracking a young migrant girl’s travels through the south and eastern coast), the exhibition displays the rustic yet realistic tapestry of Southern life woven by Lenski. In addition, with featured photo albums, handwritten manuscripts, fan letters, original illustrations, and her published books, visitors receive a glimpse into Lenski’s own life and process.”

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My guest post on 826michigan’s The Staple

You can check out my abbreviated, 500 words or less, list of favorites for the Caldecott, Newbery, and Printz over at 826michigan‘s blog, The Staple.

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December 11, 2012 · 2:30 PM

Jennifer Holm, Sarah Marwil Lamstein Children’s Literature Lecture, University of Michigan (Ann Arbor)

Three time Newbery Honor winner Jennifer Holm is speaking at the University of Michigan Museum of Art a week from today. Admission is free.

Photo by Amy Martin Friedman

Sarah Marwil Lamstein Children’s Literature Lecture (University of Michigan English)
Time: March 29th, 5:10 PM
Location: UMMA Helmut Stern Auditorium

Jennifer Holm received a Newbery Honor for her first novel, Our Only May Amelia, which allowed her to eventually become a full-time writer. She is also the author of the Babymouse series, the Boston Jane series, Turtle in Paradise, Middle School Is Worse than Meatloaf, and The Creek, among other titles.  Her books have been translated into several languages and The Seattle Children’s Theatre staged Our Only May Amelia in 2002.  She now splits her time between writing and taking care of her children, Will and Millie. Her husband, Jonathan Hamel, and she recently collaborated on a series called The Stink Files about a British international cat of mystery. They all live in Northern California with one slightly stinky cat named Princess Leia Organa.

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Wondering What To See & Do At ALA Midwinter?

With the annual American Libraries Association (ALA) Midwinter conference on the horizon (January 20–24th in Dallas), many first-time attendees are curious about what they should see and do while attending. ALA Midwinter is a quieter, more businessy conference than Annual (held in the summer) and therefore can be a little intimidating. But never fear, newbees. Pull up a chair. This seasoned veteran of (count it) one Midwinter conference is going to dispense some wisdom. Sadly, this is as close as I’ll get to Midwinter this year because I won’t be attending the 2012 conference. If we live through the Mayan apocalypse there’s always Seattle in 2013…

  • Acquaint yourself with the On-line Scheduler for it shall be your guide. While it’s fun to just browse, you might try searching for programs being put on by the divisions (i.e. Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC)) you belong to or a topic of interest. Pay very close attention to whether a session is closed to the public or not (indicated by CLOSED after the session title). It’d be very embarrassing to burst in on the final Caldecott deliberations.
  • While it’s always a good idea to attend your official division committee meetings, don’t discount any social events your division is hosting. I met a lot of interesting people at the ALSC Speed Networking event last year (it wasn’t as scary as it sounds, I promise) and won a free on-line class in the raffle.* Can’t beat that. I’m sorry to inform you that the Dallas version appears to have been cancelled. But I’m sure there are other similar and also awesome opportunities. Seek them out.
    • UPDATE: I received an e-mail with information about these New Members Round Table (NMRT) events on Saturday, January 21 :
      • 8:00-10:00 am:  NMRT Conference Orientation, DCC – D173
      • 10:30 am-12:00 pm:  NMRT Executive Board Meeting, DCC – D163
      • 1:30-3:30 pm:  NMRT Membership, Networking, and Committee Interest Meeting, DCC – D226
      • 5:30-7:30 pm:  NMRT Midwinter Social, City Tavern (1402 Main St.)
  • Looking for a new job or hoping to switch careers? Take advantage of the ALA JobList Placement Center. It’s the place to get career advice, have your resume reviewed, attend a career focused discussion group, and potentially meet a future employer.
  • If your job entails collection development or you’re a fan of Betsy Bird’s Librarian Preview posts and Early Word, you might consider seeking out publisher presentations. It’s a great way to get the scoop on new books from your favorite houses. As a bonus, you’ll probably be gifted a few Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs) to enjoy and share with your patrons. Unfortunately, many of these presentations are invite only. Your circumstances will determine if that’s a possibility for you. However, there are a few publisher presentations (e.g. Random House, Harper Collins) open to everyone attending the conference. Below is a schedule for some others (courtesy ALA):

Saturday, January 21, Dallas Convention Center – Ballroom C1

  • 8:00am – 9:00am – Amulet Books, and imprint of ABRAMS
    Amulet Books, an imprint of ABRAMS, Celebrates Spring 2012 with special guest Lauren Myracle, author of Shine, Margi Preus, author of 2011 Newbery Honor winner Heart of a Samurai, and Michael Buckley, bestselling author of The Sisters Grimm and NERDS series.
  • 11:00am – 12:00pm – Sterling 
    Chris Vaccari, Director, Library Marketing will talk about the best and brightest books from Sterling’s Spring 2012 Adult, Children’s and Teen lists.  We will have ARC’s available and a book raffle prize, too
  • 11:00am – 12:00pm – Macmillan Library Marketing Director Talia Sherer 
    Talia Sherer will discuss her favorite forthcoming Spring and Fall 2012 titles from adult publishers St. Martin’s Press, Griffin, Minotaur Books, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Henry Holt & Co., Picador, Tor/Forge, and Macmillan Audio.  Advance copies, finished books, and goofy commentary await all attendees!

    • 11:00:  Sterling Children’s & Teen Books
    • 11:15:  St. Martin’s Griffin Teen
    • 11:30:  Sterling Adult
    • 11:45:  Macmillan Adult
  • 1:30pm – 2:30pm – Scotting Bowditch, School and Library Marketing Director for Penguin Young Readers
  • Penguin Young Readers is thrilled to share upcoming titles for Spring and Summer 2012.
  • 4:30pm – 5:30pm – A Dark and Delectable Feast of Tor’s Upcoming Releases – with Refreshments!  
  • Publisher Kathleen Doherty and Senior Editor Susan Chang will present highlights from the Starscape and Tor Teen  Winter 2012 list along with hot new releases for Spring 2012. Attendees will partake of advance reading copies, finished books, and delicious “Weenies” snacks!

Sunday, January 22, Dallas Convention Center – Ballroom C1

  • 8:00am – 9:00am – Abrams Books for Young Readers
    Abrams Books for Young Readers Celebrates Our Spring 2012 List and the Spring 2012 launch of Abrams Appleseed, a new imprint for readers ages 0-5. Join us for book giveaways and more!
  • 11:00am – 12:00pm – Hachette Book Group and Perseus Books Group Sprint Titles
    Find out what spring books we are excited about at Perseus, and I’ll even share some of the behind the scenes secrets why! Also, get a sneak peek into the Spring titles from Hachette Book Group, there are lots to look forward to!
  • 4:30pm – 5:30pm – Bloomsbury/Walker and Kingfisher Books for Young Readers Bloomsbury and Walker Books for Young Readers and Kingfisher Books will present their upcoming Spring 2012 titles, including picture books, middle grade and teen fiction, and a variety of nonfiction for ages 4 to 14. Come join us! Cookies will be served.
  • Visit your favorite publishing houses’ booths. (Lists of Children’s, Young Adult, Graphic Novels/Comics, and Mystery publishers attending.) This was one of my favorite experiences at Midwinter last year. It’s a great alternative if a publisher didn’t host a preview or you weren’t able to attend. Make sure you actually talk to the staff. If you just grab ARCs and dash, you’re certain to miss out on some great conversations and maybe even some hidden gems. Tell the staff your interests so they can focus on titles in which you’d be the most interested. My favorite booth last year was Candlewick’s. The representative I spoke with was excellent. But, as Mr. Burton says, don’t take my word for it, get out there and see what you can see!
  • See if your favorite bloggers, scholars, authors, fellow librarians, or other people of interest are attending and seek them out. I know “networking” can sometimes seem like a dirty word but talking with like-minded folks is one of the best things about attending professional conferences. I for one am glad I was able to meet my life twin IRL last year. UPDATE: If you’re a YA enthusiast and blogger, you might consider checking out Great ALA Midwinter YA Blogger Meetup (hosted by Kelly at Stacked.)
  • If you’re interested in children’s literature, you probably know that the Youth Media Awards (Newbery, Caldecott, Coretta Scott King, Geisel, Printz) are a must attend. However, I’d also recommend sitting in on ALSC’s Notable Children’s Books and YALSA’s Best Fiction for Young Adults.

Did I miss anything? Please chime in with your suggestions in the comments.

* I used it to take K. T. Horning’s excellent The Newbery Medal: Past, Present and Future.

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Listening to the Newbery, Part 2

Today, as part of my personal Newbery project, I present two medalists that were enhanced by the audiobook format.

Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!: Voices from a Medieval Village (2008 Medal)
by Laura Amy Schlitz
Narrated by Christina Moore & full cast

Recorded Books
ISBN 9781436119634

Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! is a collection of monologues originally written for students at the Park School in Baltimore, where Schlitz works as a librarian. Schlitz started the collection as a way of bringing the students’ study of the Middle Ages to life. In her introduction Schlitz reveals that as a child she didn’t much care for history until she discovered historical fiction. She wrote her monologues hoping to prove to the students how accessible the past can be. Schlitz chose the monologue format – instead of a single play – because she wanted to give each child an equal part. I appreciated that, although Schlitz was striving for equality, she still allowed for shorter, less demanding monologues, designed for children who want to participate but don’t necessarily want to soak up the spotlight. I was never one of those children but I’ve been told they exist?

I would have been a prime audience for this book as a child. I never really thought much of the Middle Ages. The only time I remember getting remotely excited about the period is when I toured a reconstructed Viking village in York, England. The claim to fame there was that the creators had painstakingly re-created all the myriad Middle Age smells for your olfactory pleasure. Yeah, fun times. Reading Schlitz’s book is a similar experience, only heavier on the social history, lighter on the sniffs. Had I read this book as a kid or been asked to perform one of the monologues, I have no doubt I’d have been more interested in the period as a whole.

This was excellent material for an audiobook. Monologues are meant to be read aloud and, since school plays don’t often visit my living room, this was a good substitute. But it was a little disconcerting hearing adult voices perform material clearly meant for children. Come to think of it, I’ve never heard a child actor on an audiobook. I guess it’s just easier to use adults.

Given the format, I can’t imagine reading this, as opposed to listening to it. But of course that’s how most people experience this book. Those of you who did read the book, what did you think? Did you read silently or read the speeches aloud? I am sad that I missed Byrd’s illustrations. Did they add to the experience?

The View from Saturday (1968 Medal)
by E. L. Konigsburg
Narrated by full cast
Simon & Schuster Audio
ISBN: 9780743597135

Since Saturday is narrated by four first person narrators, along with one third person limited narrator, it too was a great audiobook. While listening, it occurred to me that, like Good Masters!, this too is a collection of monologues and therefore perfect for the audio format. The full cast recording made this classic even more poignant. A highly recommended recording.

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Listening to the Newbery, Part 1

As I’ve mentioned, I’m currently enrolled in a course on the Newbery. Each student is asked to read at least one medalist from each decade. Obviously, that’s a lot of books, especially because when I hear the words “at least” I multiply the requirement by five in my head, automatically. So, to achieve my lofty goals, and to keep myself entertained while watching endless muted news broadcasts and basketball games at the gym, I’ve begun borrowing audiobook versions of Newbery medalists from the library. My thoughts on the books themselves and the audiobook version in particular are recorded below.

The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Elizabeth George Speare (1959 Medal)
Narrated by Mary Beth Hurt
Listening Library
ISBN: 9780739359693

First off, not my favorite Newbery. My main issue is that Kit is just too defiant to be either believable or sympathetic. Far be it from me to criticize a sassy heroine but Kit felt more like a transplant from the twentieth century than Barbados. And really? A long suffering, saint-like cripple character? Ack. But, on the positive side, I enjoyed Kit’s unconventional contributions to the dame school. And this book did teach me the significance of the name Horn Book so I thank it for that.

Mary Beth Hurt does a fine job handling the diverse cast of characters’ voices. I was going to quibble with her performance of Kit because she came off as a total priss but then I realized, she is a total priss, so well played, Madam.

The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman (2009 Medal)
Narrated by the author
Harper Children’s Audio
ISBN: 9780061551895

The Graveyard Book is notable for being heavily decorated. Along with winning the 2009 Newbery Medal,  it also won the 2009 Hugo Award for Best Novel, the 2010 Carnegie Medal (a British equivalent of the Newbery), and a Locus Award for Best YA Novel. That The Graveyard Book won awards for three different age ranges (children’s, young adult, adult), hints at its broad appeal. Although, just to give all of the above a sprinkling of salt, I would point out that Gaiman has an especially rabid fanbase and just maybe they were waiting in the wings to reward him? I mean, was anyone else at ALA Midwinter this year? Hoo boy. Talk about mania! I hid out at an awards discussion to avoid being drooled on or trampled.

This is an excellent audiobook; one of the best I’ve listened to in a long time. Gaiman’s text begs to be read out loud and the fact that Neil himself (pun intended) is such a fabulous narrator is a huge bonus. I realize the guy wrote the book and therefore knew what dialects the characters would use but he does all the voices! He even does convincing women without resorting to falsetto. Phrases like “scraggly grass” come to life in their rightful British accent. It’s awesome. I recommend you give it a listen.

The story itself, I’m afraid, sputters out after an excellent first chapter. Oh, it’s still interesting but it doesn’t have the same pow! it starts with. It revives for the final act though. Oh, does it ever. I apologize to my neighbors for my shouting quite a bit while listening to the second to last chapter.

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Newbery Winner Hugh Lofting on Voice in Children’s Literature

“Children do not want us to come down patronizing to their level. They would much sooner be pulled up to ours in both ideas and vocabulary.”
– Hugh Lofting, winner of the 1923 Newbery Medal for The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle

Isn’t it interesting that we still argue over this concept, all these years later? But wouldn’t you agree that Newbery winners tend to be books that are in line with Lofting’s beliefs?

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