...ALA Youth Media Awards season, that is! The Caldecott, Newbery, Printz, and a number of other awards will be announced on January 23. A few thoughts, Part I:
Kadir Nelson's Heart and Soul, whose images stayed with me long after I closed the book, is my pick for the Caldecott. That's not to say that there aren't legitimate contenders among more traditional picture books (or books in the Bricks by Brian Selznick genre), but I think Heart and Soul stands out both in the achievement of the art itself and in the way the art enhances the text. Whether or not it wins the Caldecott, if it doesn't win the Coretta Scott King, I'll (make a hat out of something edible and) eat my hat.
The Newbery field is more crowded, methinks. I'm pulling for Anne Ursu's Breadcrumbs, which manages to be a great fantasy without losing any of the qualities of a great realistic novel - that is to say, it's both accessible and challenging to fans of both and makes total emotional sense. (It also does a great job of addressing things that need to be addressed more - race, divorce, depression - without being About Them. The first half of that probably shouldn't count in Newbery decisions, but the second half means it's good storytelling.)
For the Printz, if there's one novel that illuminates the young adult condition, it's Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler's The Future of Us. I don't think that's too broad a generalization - even if not all teens use Facebook, I would bet that at least most know what it's like to be concerned about one's future. The Future of Us approaches that natural concern in a thoughtful, well-plotted, often hilarious manner.
Stay tuned (or, um, stay on the Internet?) for Part II: The Awards for More Specific Stuff.