Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sunday Brunch for a Three-Day Weekend

For the past few days, I've been Newberied-out and Printzed-off.

It's not that I'm unhappy with the award selections -- quite the contrary. I was as excited as everyone else to see a few surprises among the winning titles. It's just that, after all the excitement and frenzy of the the past couple weeks, I needed to "step away from the book." I deliberately opted to put MOON OVER MANIFEST on hold and instead spent my time watching THE BIGGEST LOSER and TOP CHEF ALL STARS on TV, reading several books from a different genre (three old plays: THE JOYOUS SEASON by Philip Barry, JASON by Samson Raphaelson, and KNICKERBOCKER HOLIDAY by Maxwell Anderson), sorting through some paperwork, and taking a nap.

But now the latest Newbery winner is starting to call my name and I am ready to read it.

In other words: I'm back!

Today's blog corrects an error I made in last week's blog, looks at some new book covers, and -- what else? -- starts the predictions for next year's awards!


Last week I wrote the following:

A blog-reader just asked me if this was the first year in which both the Newbery and Caldecott were given to debut creators.

I believe it is!

The closest example I can find is 1961 when Nicolas Sidjanov won the Caldecott for the first book he illustrated, BABOUSHKA AND THE THREE KINGS, and Scott O'Dell won for ISLAND OF THE BLUE DOLPHINS, which was his first work for young readers. However, Mr. O'Dell had previously published a few books for adults, so he was not truly a first-time author.

However, in doing a little more research, I discovered that BABOUSHKA AND THE THREE KINGS was not Nicolas Sidjanov's first book. Three years before BABOUSHKA, he illustrated THE FRIENDLY BEASTS by Laura Nelson Baker.

This means that not only is Erin Stead the youngest Caldecott winner ever (she just turned 28) but she's also the ONLY artist to win for illustrating her very first book!

Every other previous winner had illustrated other books before winning the award -- and that includes Lynd Ward, who illustrated a number of adult books before winning the 1953 Caldecott for his picture book debut THE BIGGEST BEAR, and David Diaz, who had illustrated a book of children's poetry by Gary Soto before winning the 1995 Caldecott for his first picture book, Eve Bunting's SMOKY NIGHT.


While not the only author to win the Newbery for her first effort, Clare Vanderpool joins a very small group of authors who have achieved this feat.

If my research is correct, the following are the only authors who won the Newbery for their debut books:

Arthur Bowie Chrisman / SHEN OF THE SEA / 1926

Eric P. Kelly / THE TRUMPETER OF KRAKOW / 1929

Laura Adams Armer / WATERLESS MOUNTAIN / 1932

Eliabeth Lewis / YOUNG FU OF THE UPPER YANGTZE / 1933

Emily Cheney Neville / IT'S LIKE THIS, CAT / 1964

There are a handful more who won for their first juvenile novel, though they had written in other genres before that:

Charles J. Finger / TALES FROM SILVER LANDS / 1926 / had written a number of works for adults

Walter Edmonds / THE MATCHLOCK GUN / 1942 / his previous novels for adults included the classic DRUMS ALONG THE MOHAWK

Esther Forbes / JOHNNY TREMAIN / 1944 / had won the Pulitzer Prize for her adult biography of Paul Revere

Joseph Krumgold / ...AND NOW MIGUEL / 1954 / had published an adult mystery novel

Scott O'Dell / ISLAND OF THE BLUE DOLPHINS / 1961 / published several adult works many decades earlier

Maia Wojciechowska / SHADOW OF A BULL / 1965 / had previously published a book on hairstyling, as well as a picture book

Joan Blos / A GATHERING OF DAYS / 1980 / had written a couple picture books with Betty Miles, but this was her first novel

Cynthia Kadohata / KIRA-KIRA / 2005 / had previously written adult novels


As the most recent Newbery winner, we'll be learning much more about Clare Vanderpool in the months and years ahead. One bit of info I found on the author’s website is this list of her favorite books. I always think we can tell a lot about a person by the books they love. Here are hers:

A WRINKLE IN TIME by Madeleine L'Engle
ANNE OF GREEN GABLES by Lucy Maude Montgomery
HALF MAGIC by Edward Eager
TREASURE ISLAND and KIDNAPPED by Robert Louis Stevenson
Little House Books (especially ON THE BANKS OF PLUM CREEK) by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Hmm...three of those books are Newbery winners; perhaps it's fate that Ms. Vanderpool has joined their ranks.

But you know what really intrigues me? Her singling out ON THE BANKS OF PLUM CREEK among Laura Ingalls Wilder's books.

Why that particular title?

If someone asked my favorite Wilder title, I'd probably choose the epic LONG WINTER. And of course LITTLE HOUSE IN THE BIG WOODS and THESE HAPPY GOLDEN YEARS have a special place, as they begin and end and the series.

But PLUM CREEK (and BY THE SHORES OF SILVER LAKE) are smooshed into the middle of the pack and never seem to stand out as individual titles.

You know how there's always one of the Seven Dwarfs you forget? Well, I'm in the same way with the eight Wilder books. "Let's see there's LITTLE HOUSE IN THE BIG WOODS, LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE, THE LONG WINTER, LITTLE TOWN ON THE PRAIRIE, THESE HAPPY GOLDEN, FARMER BOY...and..and...[thirty seconds pass]...oh, I know: BY THE SHORES OF SILVER LAKE and ON THE BANKS OF PLUM CREEK!"

(The dwarf I always forget is Doc.)


Someone nice just gave me an advance reading copy of Judy Blundell's forthcoming young adult novel, STRINGS ATTACHED.

I was a big fan of the author's WHAT I SAW AND HOW I LIED. I think a lot of people were surprised when that title won the National Book Award a couple years back, but I thought it was quite good: thought-provoking, unpretentious, and hard to put down. Here's the cover:

Don't both books look an awful lot alike? I know publishers like for the books in a series to have a "uniform" look, but WHAT I SAW and STRINGS ATTACHED are not part of a series; the stories are completely unrelated. In fact, if I saw the name "Judy Blundell" and glanced at the cover of the new book, I might think I was looking at the older title and not even pick it up.

Secondly, do you think it's the same model on both covers? In the most recent book she'd be two or three years older. If it's the same girl, it again robs these titles of individuality. (And if it's not the same girl, they sure look alike!)

Speaking of uniform designs. The first book had something I've never seen in another YA book -- a photo (slightly variant from the dustjacket) was used as a frontispiece:

The new book employs a similar device:

Like it? Hate it? It's definitely something different.


Is something going on with Paula Fox?

I like to check the "keyword activity" statistics on my blog to see what brings people here. In addition to the nearly-daily search for "the book about soda pop coming out of faucets" (MR. PUDGINS), people come here looking for an amazing array of titles and authors. But what I've noticed for the past week or so is that I'm getting DOZENS of searches for information on Paula Fox every single day. I don't recall getting many searches for her in the past at all, yet every time I check my stats these days I see "Paula Fox," "Paula Fox," "Paula Fox," as a search term. Many of these requests are coming from Switzerland, the Netherlands, and other European countries. Are they running a movie based on one of her book on European TV? Or is there some kind of resurgence of her literary works going on right now?

Speaking of Ms. Fox, is anyone a REALLY big fan of her Newbery-winning novel THE SLAVE DANCER? Does anyone really LOVE it? I know the critics swooned over it when the book was published and I know that many readers respect and admire it, but it left me cold as a kid and I don't think I've still warmed up to it nearly forty years later. I think I'd probably appreciate it better today -- the author is a fine stylist -- but there is a big difference in APPRECIATING a book and LOVING a book.

Do you love this book, or merely appreciate it?

How did kids today feel about this novel?

Is it better to be appreciated or loved?


The ALA's Association for Library Services to Children has issued their list of 2011 Notable Children's Books.

It seems like I've seen the notation "An ALA Notable Children's Book" on the covers of paperbacks all my life, but it's never meant a lot to me.

However, I was intrigued to read this comment on the Horn Book blog by children's book expert K.T. Horning:

In days of yore, Notable Children's Books was a subcommittee of Newbery/Caldecott, meant to highlight books that didn't make the final cut as an award or honor, but that had been strong contenders and were worth noting. So there is a historic connection between ALSC awards and Notables.

But in the 21st century, there are so many awards I think ALSC could probably do away with Notables all together and simply compile the list of all the winners, including the CSK, American Indian, Asian/Pacific,and Stonewall and call it "ALA Notable Children's Books of the Year."

Now that's intriguing! You mean that all those old "ALA Notable Children's Books" I read had been strong contenders for the Newbery?

That makes me want to get a hold of all the old Notables lists and study them!

You always wonder what other books had a shot at the awards each year....

Maybe these lists will tell us.


Do you get tomorrow off work? My library is closed. But I'll probably spend most of the day at home working on an overdue chapter for the book I'm writing with Julie Danielson of Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast and Betsy Bird from Fuse #8 fame. However, if your library is open, you might want to check out some of the many children's books that have been published about this holiday.

Have there ever been so many books with the exact same title?

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. DAY / Sheri Dean / Gareth Stevens / 2010
MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. DAY / Helen Frost / Capstone / 2000
MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. DAY / Margaret Hall / Rourke / 2010
MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. DAY / Lynn Hamilton / Weigl / 2010
MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. DAY / Linda Lowry / Carolrhoda / 2003
MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. DAY / Margaret McNamara / Simon / 2007
MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. DAY / Dianne MacMillan / Enslow / 2008
MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. DAY / David F. Marx / Children's Press / 2001
MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. DAY / Reagan Miller / Crabtree / 2009
MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. DAY / Julie Murray / Buddy Books / 2005
MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. DAY / Robin Nelson / Lerner / 2002
MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. DAY / Dana Meachan Rau / Children's Press / 2000
MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. DAY / Rebecca Rissman / Heinemann Raintree / 2010
MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. DAY / Trudi Strain Trueit / Children's Press / 2006

In case you can't remember those titles, you might also try:

CELEBRATE MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. DAY WITH MRS. PARK'S CLASS / Alma Flor Ada / Alfaguara Infantil / 2006
CELEBRATING MARTIN LUTHER KING DAY / Joel Kupperstein / Creative Teaching / 1999
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. / Jean Marzollo / Scholastic / 2006
LET'S GET READY FOR MARTIN LUTHER KING DAY / Lloyd G. Douglas / Children's Press / 2003
MAX CELEBRATES MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. DAY / Adria Worsham / Picture Book Windows / 2008
WHAT IS MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. DAY? / Margaret Friskey / Children's Press 1990


I was recently in a bookstore that was selling wobble-headed figurines, some of which had characters that originated in children's books.

There was the Wimpy Kid:

A Wild Thing:


And the "author" who usurped the Newbery spot on this week's TODAY SHOW -- Snooki!



Now that 2011's award frenzy is over...

...Let's start the 2012 frenzy!

What books already sound Newberyific and Caldecottable to you?

Several people -- including a few blog readers have said that Gary D. Schmidt's forthcoming OKAY FOR NOW is the one to beat:

I'm also hearing good things about SMALL THINGS WITH WINGS by Ellen Boorman. When I first heard the title I got the dry heaves, thinking it was another of those sensitive books about an ethereal and lonely girl who, either literally or figuratively, grows a pair of wings. You've seen those books. I know you have.

But apparently it's a snarky comedy about girl whose home is overrun by fairies.

There have been two covers so far. Here's the arc:

And here's the eventual hardcover:

Which do you think is better?

(Neither. I prefer OKAY FOR NOW.)

Thanks for visiting Collecting Children's Books. Hope you'll be back.


grrlpup said...

Re: the memorability of Plum Creek, I have one word: LEECHES.

(And the picture of Laura clinging to the footbridge, about to get swept away. And the oxen putting its foot through the ceiling of their dugout! But mostly, leeches.)

Wendy said...

My sister and I had a conversation about what is actually the most well-known Little House book, after one or two people in a discussion about American Indians in the series claimed it was Little House on the Prairie and everyone knows it. I think we agreed that in actual fact, the most well-known are either the first one or Plum Creek; most non-fan people don't actually know the story of the volume Little House on the Prairie except for the Christmas chapter. Plum Creek has the basis for a lot of the TV show. As for why Vanderpool might like it best... I think it's the most kid-friendly (for all kids, not just bookish ones), because it shows Laura having lots of normal-kid adventures, getting in trouble, being resourceful in a fun way, and so on, plus living underground and Nellie Oleson. The Long Winter is the tour de force, but Plum Creek is a splendid book and so well-suited to its audience.

I didn't remember liking The Slave Dancer that much (I only read it as an adult), but I see in my Goodreads review that I complimented it for being succinct, and wondered whether Charlotte Doyle was derivative of Fox's book.

Wendy said...

(uh... and by "in actual fact" I meant "in our biased and unscientific opinion", of course. The irony may not have come across...)

LaurieA-B said...

Plum Creek is definitely a favorite, memorable Little House book for me, especially when I was a little girl (as an older girl I preferred Little Town on the Prairie and These Happy Golden Years; as an adult I admire the writing in The Long Winter). Plum Creek is jam-packed with memorable scenes and characters: Ma's new stove, Nellie Oleson, the Olesons' store, Laura's Christmas furs, going to school, going to church, Pa giving the money for his new boots to buy the church bell, moving the woodpile inside the house, LEECHES, the dugout, Reverend Alden, GRASSHOPPERS!!!!

(If it turns out that any of the above were only on the TV show and not in the book, I'm going to be mighty embarrassed.

Bybee said...

Plum Creek was one of my favorites when I was younger because this is the one in which Nellie Oleson and her family are introduced. As an adult, my favorite one is The Long Winter. The "dwarf" I always leave out is Farmer Boy.

Lisa Jenn Bigelow said...

Add me to the list of people whose favorite Little House book has always been Plum Creek! I think everyone else has probably mentioned all the reasons it stands out in my memory -- leeches, Nellie, Pa getting stuck in a blizzard and having to eat all the candy and oysters.... I think I first read it when I was just Laura's age, which made it perfect. Plus I always thought it would be immensely cool to live in a dug-out. (Actually, I still do, though I could do with indoor plumbing.)

Sarah said...

I LOVE Paula Fox (One-Eyed Cat is one of my all-time favorite books), and am not ashamed to admit it.

Anonymous said...

Sorry...can't remember my Google acct password. I, too, love Paula Fox, especially One-Eyed Cat. And I have a bobble-head of the Stinky Cheese Man. If I can figure out how to send a photo I will send it. --skynyc

Laura Canon said...

I'd say the same about Plum Creek -- maybe it's a girl thing, but it's very easy to identify with Laura in that book. She's about to right age to start to interact with the outside world more,getting to know the neighbors and going to school. Also, leeches.
And even today I cry over the scene where Ma makes her give away her only doll to the mean neighbors and later she finds it discarded and frozen in a mud puddle. And I'm not much of a doll person, or a crier.
I didn't read Slave Dancer as a child, in fact, I only came to it after reading Fox's adult memoir BORROWED FINERY, which I really liked. Can't say the same for Slave Dancer. I put in the category of one of those books which are "important" but too grim to stir much affection. By the way, Fox wrote another memoir, THE COLDEST WINTER, about her time as a reporter in post-war Europe. Maybe there's a local tv production of it which is causing people from across the pond to look her up?

Erin Stead said...

Dear Peter,

Thank you for the congratulations and commenting on my blog! Philip and I are loyal readers of yours. I visit and visit and visit throughout the week even though I know I usually have to wait until Sunday.

The record breaking (can I admit this?) makes me perhaps feel a little sheepish. Which is not to say I'm not honored or surprised! In time, after some years pass, maybe this will all sink in and then I'll let myself be think about the records. But my friends have been very happy to read about it, and I will take their cue.

For now, I just hope to work hard and get better.

Thanks for taking the time to write your blog. I really enjoy it.

Hooray, Michigan!

Erin Stead

Beth said...

I read Slave Dancer as a kid and found it really impressive and grim. It's not a book I reread a lot, but I have it around in case I ever get the nerve. I'm interested to see if it still makes a big impression.

Anyway, that's one data point for a kid liking it.

Ali said...

I'm another Plum Creek lover. I adored the Little House books as a child. I could "see" Laura, her family, the Oleson's store and Nellie so clearly, even though I am English and grew up in the north western suburbs of London.

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Peter, I was in Walnut Grove, MN, this summer, and they had a Laura bobble-head in the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum gift shop. I did not buy one.

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