Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Newbery Gets Spoofed, or, Maybe Cynthia Voigt's Son Was Right

Back in 1983, when Cynthia Voigt won the Newbery Medal for DICEY'S SONG, she closed her acceptance speech with an anecdote about her young son announcing, "Mommy won the Blueberry Award!"

A long time has passed since then. Ms. Voigt went on to write several more books about Dicey's family, as well as a number of other outstanding novels in a variety of genres. Her son must now be in his thirties. I doubt he still talks about his mom's "Blueberry Award."

But now I have more news about the, Newbery...Award.

A few days ago, my bookstore friend gave me an ARC (advance reading copy) of PIE, a novel by Sarah Weeks which is due out in October. It's the story of a young girl, her recently-deceased pie-baking aunt, and the search for an elusively perfect pie crust recipe.

Is it a good book?

I don't know yet.

I'm only up to page 28.

So far so good.

But the reason I've momentarily stopped at page 28 was because I wanted to share a fun moment from the book with you. Alice, the protagonist of the book, recalls that Aunt Polly kept her "Blueberry Medals" under the the bed so she couldn't look at them and "get a swelled head."

We are told:

The Blueberry Award was established in 1922 to celebrate the most distinguished contribution to American pie making. Each year during the month of August, people from all over the country would box up their pies and deliver them to the Blueberry committee for consideration. The committee members would carefully evaluate the pies, "Blueberry Buzz" would spread as the top contenders emerged, "Mock Blueberry" clubs would choose their own favorites, and finally on the first Monday in September, amid a great deal of fanfare, the Blueberry committee would announce the winner.

Incidentally, the commitee member responsible for Aunt Polly's first Blueberry Award happens to be named Melcher!

However, in the book Aunt Polly goes on to win thirteen Blueberry Awards in a row -- a feat that has not been repeated in the history of the Newbery Award. Not even by Cynthia Voigt.

Anyway, it was great fun to see the Newbery skewered in such a good-natured way. Can you think of any other examples of the Newbery or Caldecott being spoofed within a children's book?

Speaking of which, have you heard of any new books already getting Blueberry Buzz? I mean Newbery buzz? Which recent titles would turn up on your Mock Newbery list?


Mary J Petersen said...

Peter, So far I would recommend Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt. He never disappoints.

Mary Petersen

Peter D. Sieruta said...

I'm a fan of OKAY FOR NOW too, Mary.


Greg Pincus said...

And then there's this: The Blueberry Awards.

Go figure....

carterbham said...

I've got my money on Anne Ursu's BREADCRUMBS. Granted, I still haven't finished it yet, but boy is it good so far.

Peter D. Sieruta said...

I've never even heard of the book BREADCRUMBS. I will definitely track down a copy now!



Sandy D. said...

Ok, "the best children’s book that presents a fruit, vegetable, nut or seed in a positive light and that is appealing to children" (the Blueberry Awards linked by Gregory K.!) is pretty funny in its own right, especially when you see it's sponsored by a raw food group.

Robin said...

I just saw a children's book in the new section of the library: BOGUS by Karla Oceanak, illustrated by Kendra Spanjer. On its cover it features a Blueberry Medal "For the Most Breathtaking Sketchbook Story by a Semi-Artsy-Fartsy kid."

Check it out!