Sunday, January 18, 2009

Win the Award. Yippee! Write the Speech? Yikes!

Within the next ten days, one author and one illustrator will receive a life-changing phone call. On January 26th during the ALA Mid-Winter Meeting, the Newbery and Caldecott winners for 2009 will be announced.

Can't imagine how it would feel to get that (usually) early morning phone call, but I can imagine that after a burst of joy, my nerves would jangle at the thought of preparing and delivering that necessary and spotlighted speech. To refresh my memory about how others rose to the challenge, I reread some recent Caldecott and Newbery speeches.

Here are a few memorable nuggets:

2005. Kevin Henkes. Caldecott speech for Kitten's First Full Moon.

"Kitten, of course, is a child. She is myopic. She is curious. She is persistent. She wants and wants and wants. She makes mistakes. She misunderstands. She gets hurt. She is confused. She is scared. She is also a symbol, a symbol that says: childhood is anything by easy."

2006. Lynn Rae Perkins. Newbery speech for Criss Cross.

"It takes two people to make a book - a writer and a reader - and it's not clear-cut who is doing the giving and who is receiving. The roles of giver and receiver go back and forth like alternating current, when there is a connection."

2007. David Weisner. Caldecott speech for Flotsam.

"Deliberately leaving part of the process open to spontaneity can be scary. But to grow as an artist, I have to be willing to move into unfamiliar territory."

2008. Laura Amy Schlitz. Newbery speech for Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!: Voices From a Medieval Village.

" . . . flying a kite is a bit like being a writer. Most of the time, the words aren't right and the prose drags on the ground. We don't know how to get the kite into the air . . . We only know that we have to go to the shore with the kite in our hands, in case the wind is there."

Who will be writing the Newbery and Caldecott speeches in 2009? We'll know on January 26th.

Do you have nominations?


  1. I nominate a fantasy, any fantasy. I read somewhere that Neil Gaiman--I just loved Coraline--is a contender for The Graveyard Book. Okay, so I haven't read it yet but he or any other deserving fantasy writer gets my vote!

  2. I love the metaphor of the kite. Go to the shore, go to the shore. Someday there will be wind.

  3. I loved Coraline as well, and coincidentally, began The Graveyard Book last night. I read one chapter before my eyes refused to cooperate any longer, but oh, what a chapter! Great fun!

    Another new book I really enjoyed was the Adoration of Jenna Fox. And Kevin Henkes could definitely be a Newbery contender for Bird Lake Moon.

  4. I loved Bird Lake Moon also, but wonder if the emphasis these days is on "big" works with fantasy elements.

    Just think, it could be a sweep for Kevin Henkes. He already has one Caldecott and a Newbery Honor for Olive's Ocean and I think his newest picture book, Old Bear, could be a Caldecott Honor this year.

  5. I just finished The Adoration of Jenna Fox (read it in one day) and loved it. Another of my favorites is Unwind.

  6. I second the nomination for Unwind, an unbelievably great fantasy.

  7. Yay, I got my wish, Neil Gaiman won!

    From today's Publishers Lunch, 1-26-09: Given this morning at the ALA's mid-winter meeting, the Newbery Medal for 2009 went to Neil Gaiman's THE GRAVEYARD BOOK. The Caldecott Medal went to THE HOUSE IN THE NIGHT illustrated by Beth Krommes and written by Susan Marie Swanson.