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And the REAL winners are...

I'm here in blustery, snowy Boston with about a thousand librarians and publishers gathered in the convention center to find out what books have won the prestigious awards for young people's literature.  There’s a buzz of speculation as people ask each other, “What do you think will win?” or “What is the book you gave your heart to this year?” 

The Coretta Scott King Awards are of special interest to librarians at the CRRL since we held our own mock awards discussion of these books last week.  Our illustrator award turns out to be the real winner, too.  The announcement of “My People” by Langston Hughes with Charles R. Smith, Jr.'s photos was greeted with great applause.  "Bass Reeves," which our librarians considered for the illustrator award, turned out to win the Coretta Scott King author award.  Lots of cheers, partly because author Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, herself a librarian, is in the audience, but also because the book tells such a compelling and hitherto unknown story.

The Printz Award for the best teen book is now ten years old.  The announcement of the Printz is usually greeted with loud cries and hollers, because the teen librarians who choose this award are never afraid to let loose.  And the winner, after five honor books are announced, is "Going Bovine" by Libba Bray.  People are standing up, clapping, and cheering.  This was a bit of a surprise, since "Marcelo in the Real World" by Francisco X. Stork was widely considered a strong contender, but colleagues who have read the Bray book assure me it’s a great choice.

We’re getting closer to the big children's award announcements.  It’s been a strong year for nonfiction, and my hope is that Brian Floca’s picture book, “Moonshot,” about the Apollo mission to the moon, gets some recognition.  And the winner is…not “Moonshot,” which won an honor, but “Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream” by Tanya Lee Stone.  Another surprise, but a strong choice.

Next up is the second-oldest children’s book award, the Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished picture book.  I’m still hoping for some “Moonshot” love.  Any hope?  Two honor books are named: “All the World” by Marla Frazee, an audience favorite, and “Red Songs from Treetops,” another unexpected choice. 

And the winner, to everyone’s great delight and to long-running applause, is Jerry Pinkney for “The Lion and the Mouse.”   The Caldecott is by no means a lifetime achievement award – the committee is charged to consider only this year’s books – but Pinkney has been a frequent Honor winner, so this award is especially gratifying. The book got a lot of attention all year long, and this is a very satisfying announcement.

The oldest children’s book award in the world is the Newbery Medal.  This year four honor books are announced, to some mutters from the audience; this is a relatively high number of honors, and people sometimes assume this means that the committee couldn’t agree on their choice (though I doubt that’s the case).  All the honor books are well received, though the Philbrick book is a bit of a surprise. 

The winner, the most awaited award of the morning, is “When You Reach Me.”  This won so many mock award discussions around the country that many of us thought it wouldn’t win the real award.  But the audience is, if not surprised, very happy. 

And so another awards year comes to an end.  People gather in small groups to congratulate the committees and the publishers, to speculate about books that didn’t appear on the lists, and to acclaim the winners.  Now it’s time to head back to Fredericksburg, along with a bag of advance readers copies of some 2010 books. Maybe one of the books in my bag will be revealed as a winner next year.  Stay tuned for the announcement in San Diego next January!

To see the complete list of winners, visit www.ala.org/alsc.