Tag Archives: Book awards

Newbery and Caldecott Awards

February 21, 2023

I made a goal for myself in 2010 to read all of the Newbery Award books. The American Library Association (ALA) awards the Newbery Medal “to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.” You might recognize some classics like, “A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeleine L’Engle, and “Holes” by Louis Sachar. My idea was not to read them all in one year. The Newbery award was first presented in 1922 and has been awarded to 101 books as of 2023. Three years ago I buckled down and finished reading the last of them, so now I only have to read one a year to stay on top of things. 

This year’s Newbery went to “Freewater” by Amina Luqman-Dawson. Our Youth Services Librarian, Miss Kira assured me she ordered it and it’s on its way, so I haven’t read it yet, but according to Kirkus, 

“Twelve-year-old Homer and his little sister, Ada, become separated from their mother as they attempt to flee enslavement on the Southerland plantation. They are rescued by Suleman, who takes them deep into the Great Dismal Swamp, where they join Freewater, a community of people who successfully fled from slavery and children who were born there…. Set in a fictional community but based on real stories of those who fled slavery and lived secretly in Southern swamps, this is detailed and well-researched historical fiction.”

The ALA awards the Caldecott to “the most distinguished American picture book for children.” The award goes to the illustrator, not the author. Knowing our dog is skittish and nervous, Miss Kira gave me “Hot Dog” written and illustrated by Doug Salati to read. It was an interesting look at mental health and personal care (how to relax) from the viewpoint of a dog. A woman is running errands in a big city with her dog. The dog becomes overwhelmed with the noise, the heat and the busy-ness of the day. When he sits down and refuses to go any further, the woman hails a cab and takes the dog to the beach where he runs around and unwinds. The art is charming and I think kids could place themselves in the dog’s position and sympathize with what he is going through. Miss Kira said, “I love the art in this book, I was so happy it won.” 

Only one author has won both the Newbery and the Caldecott. In 1941 Robert Lawson won the Caldecott for “They Were Strong and Good,” and in 1945 he won the Newbery for “Rabbit Hill.” Some of the classics don’t stand the test of time, and I would include “They Were Strong and Good” in this group. Writing about your family history is a great idea, even if your family did some less than honorable things. When your ancestors owned slaves and fought for the South, calling them “Good” just doesn’t stand the test of time. 

Of the 100 + Newbery winners, only a handful of them were clunkers, so I think most award winning books do stand the test of time. I have started making my way through the Caldecott winners. The Caldecott was first awarded in 1938, so I have fewer books to read, and they are picture books, so most of them are pretty short. I enjoy reading children’s books, and I have already read 25 so I only have 60 left to read.