ALA awards tomorrow. You can watch them here or follow them on Twitter. I will be doing neither since, like every year, I have to work on MLK Day. However, that will not stop me from embarrassing myself and once again incorrectly predicting some of the winners.
I don't read enough new picture books to even bother pretending I know what I'm talking about, so if you want opinions on the Caldecott, I'd recommend getting in touch with Jacqui. She writes the things and reads lots of 'em.
Tricky year for the judges. First, quite a few past winners (and I'm including honor books in that term) published books in 2009. There was Scat by Carl Hiaasen, A Season of Gifts by Richard Peck, The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo, Al Capone Shines My Shoes by Gennifer Choldenko, and Peace, Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson. I don't think any of these books has the goods their Newbery books did, but that won't stop the Newbery Committee from awarding one of them.
When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead is on everyone's list and for good reason.
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate is the kind of book librarians love. It's historical fiction, has a girl MC who's into a stereotypically boy thing, science, there's some good stuff about Charles Darwin, so kids might actually learn a few things, and the language is lush.
Peace, Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson makes the list because it seems as though every time she writes a book the Newbery folks give her an award. I don't think it's deserving, but I'm not voting.
When the Whistle Blows by Fran Slayton is a book I read and I liked it fine, but never once did I think it was an award winner.
A Season of Gifts, which I have not read, but it's Peck, so it has to be good.
Claudette Colvin: Twice Told Justice could be the Good Masters, Sweet Ladies book of 2010. I haven't read it, so I don't know how good it is, but you can't ignore the recent trend of Newbery judges recognizing works written primarily for an African-American audience. Woodson has been the primary beneficiary, but Claudette gives judges a reason to go without someone else.
Who I Want to Win:
Rebecca Stead for When You Reach Me, although I did not love the book as much as others, I still think it's the most enjoyable of the above. And isn't enjoyment why we read?
Who I Think Will Win: Jacqueline Kelly for Calpurnia Tate, because the librarians gave it to The Graveyard Book last year and I think it buys them a year to pick something quieter, slower, deeper, and more literary.
Thanks to a library system that often seems late to the game, I haven't read a ton of the Printz contenders. Here are ones I haven't read, but I have heard buzz about:
If I Stay by Gayle Forman
Charles and Emma: The Darwin's Leap of Faith by Deborah Heiligman
The Devil's Paintbox by Victoria McKernan.
All the Broken Pieces by Ann Burg
Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson--Honestly, I started this one but couldn't do it. First, the topic was way too serious, as are many of Anderson's books. I read to get away from the real world, not to immerse myself in its small horrors. Also, and I'm prepared to be attacked here, the writing was too good. The writing was so good that I just sat there and marveled at it and instead of wanting to read the story I wanted to study the writing and maybe steal a turn-of-phrase or two. Or fifty.
Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork--I read this one and loved it. One of the top three books I read last year. It should win. Period. Plus, the author has an X in his name.
Liar by Justine Larbalestier--Haven't read it. Probably won't, but it's generated a ton of Internet buzz and the reviews I've read have been favorable, often highlighting the masterful use of an unreliable narrator.
Going Bovine By Libba Bray--Anyone who's willing to do this deserves consideration.
Who I Want to Win: Stork for Marcelo.
Who Will Win: Stork for Marcelo.