There was much acclaim but few surprises. The bloggers called it exactly right when they predicted that Rebecca Stead would win this year's Newbery Medal for her sharp, clever, young adult mystery "When You Reach Me" and that author/illustrator Jerry Pinkney would take the Caldecott Medal for his gorgeous picture book "The Lion & the Mouse."
"When You Reach Me" was lauded as a winner almost from the moment that it appeared last summer. Reviewing the book for the Monitor last July, Augusta Scattergood was already predicting that, "Boys and girls, parents, teachers, and probably the grown-ups who hand out awards won’t want to miss Rebecca Stead’s completely original, fascinating, and well-crafted novel."
The complex, twisty mystery story neatly braids together plots and subplots involving a 12-year-old named Miranda, her single mom, and their life in a Manhattan apartment building in 1979. Clues to help unravel the mystery lie in the novel that Miranda carries everywhere with her – children's lit classic and 1963 Newbery Medal winner "A Wrinkle in Time" by Madeleine L'Engle.
"The Lion & the Mouse" was also heavily favored as the Caldecott Medal awardee. Pinkney has won multiple awards throughout his career as an author and illustrator of children's books, including five Caldecott Honor citations. In "The Lion & the Mouse," Pinkney uses watercolor to retell Aesop's fable of the lion and the mouse who save each other's lives. The Monitor reviewed the book last fall, calling it "a magnificent rendering of the old tale ... colors glow, emotions sing, and each detail entrances as the tiny mouse finds a way to help his majestic friend" and predicting that it was "sure to garner some awards of its own."
The children's book awards were announced this morning at the American Library Association’s midwinter conference in Boston.
In addition to the Caldecott and Newbery Medal winners, four books were named Newbery Honor Books. These included "Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice" by Phillip Hoose, "The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate" by Jacqueline Kelly, "Where the Mountain Meets the Moon" by Grace Lin, and " The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg" by Rodman Philbrick.
The two Caldecott Honor Books were "All the World" illustrated by Marla Frazee and written by Liz Garton Scanlon, and "Red Sings from the Treetops: A Year in Colors" illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski and written by Joyce Sidman.
The Coretta Scott King awards were also announced. Vaunda Micheaux Nelson won the Coretta Scott King Author award for "Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy US Marshal," illustrated by R. Gregory Christie. Charles R. Smith Jr. won the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award for "My People" written by Langston Hughes.
"Mare's War" by Tanita S. Davis was also selected as a King Author Honor Book. "The Negro Speaks of Rivers," illustrated by E.B. Lewis and written by Langston Hughes, was chosen as a King Illustrator Honor Book.
The Newbery Medal has been awarded since 1922. The Caldecott Medal dates back to 1938. But this year, adding a 21st-century digital-age feel to the awards process, there was Twitter. The news of the award to Rebecca Stead was actually tweeted out by an eager Random House employee several minutes before it was announced at the awards ceremony.