Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Newbery Caldecott Wilder Awards Banquet

 Sunday evening we got ourselves all fancied up (I mean, comparatively speaking) and off we went to the Newbery-Caldecott-Wilder banquet.  Before they let us into the ballroom where the banquet was held, they entertained us with cocktails and Caldecott bingo.  The bingo sheet was full of questions about the history and past winners of the awards.  It was a special year, because it was the 75 anniversary of the awards.  We got special cookies for the occasion.
Anna, Alana and I were able to answer far less questions than we'd like to admit.  We had to resort to looking things up.  Hey, we're librarians.  We may not know everything, but we can find anything out!

The banquet was delightful, although due to dietary restrictions I was getting a special meal, and the server seemed uninformed that there were special meals.  And he was kind of rude about it.  But other than that, delightful.  They were showing some interviews with the illustrators and authors of the honor books, and there was a fabulous short film from Jon Klassen called "This is Not my Caldecott" which showed the little fish from the book swimming off with an award around his neck.

And then the awards began!  It started with the 2013 Caldecott Honor Book illustrators.  They were Creepy Carrots! illustrated by Peter Brown and written by Aaron Reynolds, Extra Yarn illustrated by Jon Klassen and written by Mae Barnett, Green illustrated and written by Laura Vaccaro Seeger, One Cool Friend illustrated by David Small and written by Toni Buzzeo, and Sleep like a Tiger illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski and written by Mary Logue. 

Then 2013 Caldecott winner Jon Klassen illustrator and writer of This is Not My Hat was presented with his award.  Jon Klassen always wears a baseball hat.  Since this was a more formal event, he hadn't been wearing one, but he put on a Blackhawks hat for his speech.  He said he had promised.  Jon Klassen seemed very sweet and totally adorable.  He started off by saying two things he isn't great at is fielding compliments and public speaking.  I thought it was hysterical that the Caldecott committee called him and told him he won, and then called back three minutes later to say he'd also won an honor.  "They called twice.  You jerks."  He talked about how when he wrote a book, he didn't really think of it being out there, out in the world for people to look at.  The copies that were out there were the copies he got sent and gave to people and that was it.  So the realization that the Caldecott committee had been looking at the book was a shocking one.  He described what the Caldecott committee looked like.  They meet in dark, stone, underground room.  They are cloaked and hooded and have glowing eyes.

Jon talked about creating the book, his worry over people not getting it, not understanding.  After his initial reaction of horror that the committee had been looking at the book, he realized "the book makes sense" and "they liked the book."  It was a very nice speech.

Next the 2013 Newbery Honor Book authors.  First was Steve Sheinkin, who we met at the YA Author Coffee Klatch and who was very nice, for Bomb: The Race to Build - and Steal - the World's Most Dangerous Weapon.  Then was Laura Amy Schlitz for Splendors and Glooms.  Laura Amy Schlitz appeared to be about four feet tall and positively frolicked up to receive her honor.  The third honor went to Sheila Turnage for Three Times Lucky

 Then we had 2013 John Newbery Medal winner Katherine Applegate for The One and Only Ivan.  Katherine started off by telling us that she use to write romance novel.  Badly.  She proved this by reading us an actual excerpt from one of her books.  It was terrible.  Absolutely terrible.  "I should probably note here that it's way too late for you to reconsider your choice of medal winner," she said.  Katherine talked about how she had been working as a writer for quite some time.  She had some failures, learned a lot from it, and learned she loved writing.  She was a ghostwriter for Sweet Valley Twins, Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Mickey Mouse books and more.  Then she created Animorphs.  I will say here I had no idea that Katherine Applegate was K. A. Applegate until that very moment.  I was a little too old for Animorphs when they came out, but I snuck every single one from my younger brother, probably not very subtly, and read them all.  So I was kind of excited by this revelation.

Katherine laughed about winning the Newbery has come with some perks, such as going to the front of the line at the women's bathroom.  "Go ahead, you won the Newbery."  She talked about how many people had said to her, "You know, I really loved The One and Only Ivan, but I've always despised talking animal books."  She only heard that from adults, however.  Children have no problem with talking animals.  As Madeleine L'Engle said, "And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children."  Katherine said that a parent had expressed concern that the book was too sad and might make children cry.  Yes, it might make them cry, but that's not a bad thing.  "Children know about sadness," she said.  "We can only teach them how to cope...nothing in the world, can do that better than a book."

The final award of the night was the 2013 Laura Ingalls Wilder Award.  The Wilder Award "honors an author or illustrator whose books, published in the United States, have made, over a period of years, a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children."  This year's recipient was Katherine Paterson.

Katherine Paterson started out by telling us that upon hearing that she'd won the award, she then began to have a Laura Ingalls Wilder experience which included the furnace going out (in January, in Vermont),  followed by losing the electricity.

She told us about how she began writing her first book, The Sign of the Chrysanthemum "when no one wanted to publish the stories or articles I was writing."  Katherine Paterson had lived in Japan, and was a little homesick for it.  It was not incredibly popular when published.  But she kept writing and published Bridge to Terabithia, which won the Newbery in 1978, Jacob Have I Loved, and many more.  She taught us a Japanese phrase o kage sama de - by virtue of your most honorable shadow.  It's a way to say thank you.  She thanked the librarians and teacher who have shared her books with students over the years. "..may your courage, your tenacity, and your caring live for ten thousand years."  Thanks, Katherine Paterson.  You are amazing and this award is well deserved.

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