Saturday, January 12, 2008

Yea, Verily, Coff Thee.

What were your favorite children's/YA books published in 2007. Why?

Which were your least favorite? Why?

Which books do you most look forward to reading in 2008?

Oh, these questions are always hard, because it means remembering what I've read.
I have a predisposition to smart ass writers, and at the top of that list would be The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian, Wednesday Wars, and The True Meaning of Smekday. Oh, and how about Spanking Shakespeare?
Elijah of Buxton was certainly awesome, but does not qualify for smart-assness.

A couple of my favorite read-alouds in picture books came from England this year: That Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown and When a Monster Is Born. Frustratingly, the most prestigious picture book award in this country is not for whichever picture book became available to Americans in the past year and rocked. It's for illustration. I'd also like to point out the irony in the fact that a bunch of librarians (and don't get me wrong: fine, brilliant librarians) get to choose which picture book art is the best. As opposed to, say, people with a background in art.

Least favorites are even harder, because it means remembering books I started and never finished. It's also kinda unfair to complain by name about books you haven't read all the way through (though one or two do spring to mind).

The Newberys will be announced on Monday, but I'm already over them. Why? Because I've already read the best book of 2008, and it blows 2007 out of the water: Gary Schmidt's Trouble. Hie thee to a bookstore in a couple of months and coff thee a copy! It releases in April.


Anonymous said...

Better than Wednesday Wars! Wow!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, thank you, for bringing up the point that the people who choose the Caldecott, while lovely, intelligent people, usually have no experience in art, art school, or materials and technique. If the opposite were the case, many of the books that won wouldn't have.

And equally as bothersome is the reviewer who feels compelled to make log winded comments on the illustration, that reveal his lack of training or eye, as well.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely agree that Part-Time Indian and Wednesday Wars were two of the best of '07. Couldn't get into Elijah of Buxton myself. I'm excited to hear what you say about Trouble. I'm a huge fan of Gary Schmidt from way back when he was lesser known.

Colorado Writer said...

I'm thinking of becoming a Gary Schmidt groupie!

Africakid said...

I'm hyperventilating, just waiting for the Newbery to be announced tomorrow...

Yay, Gary Schmidt, he's a teacher at my son's college!

Anonymous said...

Your son goes to Calvin College? I've heard lots of good things about it. :)

Brian Floca said...

Regarding those Caldecott librarians: Remember that there is many an art school grad out there walking the streets who knows plenty about technique and materials, but zip about narrative, zip about visually creating character, mood, setting, pace, and story.

Think of all the technically clever, lifeless books that you’ve seen, and go give a librarian a hug.

pudders said...

Brian, I couldn't agree with you more.

Lifelessness is a real thorn in my bum.

Anonymous said...

There are awards out there from organizations that have "more credibility" to judge art (The Golden Kite Award, for example, is awarded by SCBWI). It's just that, for a variety of reasons, people seem to care more about the awards the librarians give out.

christine tripp said...

I'm going to completely agree with Brian. Children and their parents also do not usually have art degree's and they are the ones I need to win over and impress. They will be attracted to the cover illustration, or not, pick it up, or not and pay hard earned money for it, or not. My worry with ARTISTS judging book illustration is they have the same notions of what is good art and what is not as does the average Joe on the street. A landscape artist, for example, may just not appreciate cartoon illustration. If he/she were to be a judge, perhaps only very realistic book art would get a pass. Personally, since I have never had any art training or gone further then high school, I'd rather take my chances with a Librarian who see's a variety of illustration every day and also see's what the kids like!

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