Thursday, January 10, 2008

The Envelope, Please

This month everyone is focused on the Newbery, Caldecott, and other children's book awards from the American Library Association. We will all know Monday, January 14 who the 2008 winners are! Meanwhile, The Writer and I want to discuss our favorite awards. And we'll finish with Winchester's award for--what else?--his favorite cat food.

The Gryphon award is one a lot of people don't know about. It is for the title (and honor titles) that "best exemplifies those qualities that successfully bridge the gap in difficulty between books for reading aloud to children and books for practiced readers. The Gryphon award was conceived as a way to focus attention an area of literature for youth that, despite being crucial to the successful transition of new readers to independent lifelong readers, does not get the critical recognition it deserves."

The award is sponsored by the Center for Children's Books at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. The Writer is particularly interested in promoting the needs of transitional readers and is delighted that an award for those books exists.

As for the Newbery, The Writer has often found her favorite books are chosen as honors, not the winner. The Hundred Dresses was an honor book (1945), as was Misty of Chincoteague (1948), and, clearly a case of someone dropping the ball, Charlotte's Web (1953). The Writer was heartbroken in 1981 when her favorite book of the year, The Fledgling, was chosen as an honor instead of getting the gold. She enjoyed Jacob Have I Loved, but Katherine Paterson already had a Newbery. Years later, The Writer became good friends with a librarian. She learned that this friend chaired the Newbery committee in 1981. The Writer told this friend, well, never mind what she said. But if you give The Writer a sheet of Newbery seals, she won't stick them on her own books. She'll put them on every copy of Jane Langton's The Fledgling she can find.

Is it my turn?

Yes. Are you peeking through that blindfold?

No! I can't make up my mind. I think I need another taste of all these kinds of cat food.

The Writer will be off to ALA Midwinter tomorrow. She'll be back with a full report next week!

Maybe a little more of the one in the yellow bag . . .


Abby said...

I had never heard of the Gryphon Award before, but I'm mighty glad I know about it now. It's so important to recognize transitional readers, too. Thanks for posting!

ellsworth said...

The Writer is very interested in transitional readers. She writes Time Spies series for this group and she is also trying to get together a program to recognize the needs of transitional readers.

Pyewacket said...

I'm really glad to learn about the Gryphon, too. Hooray for transitional readers! Thanks, Ellsworth! And now I have to read The Fledgling, which I hadn't heard of before. BTW, how did The Writer, who should be aka The Photographer, get Winchester to wear a blindfold?!?!

ellsworth said...

You will LOVE The Fledgling, I promise! The Writer told Winchester that he was in "The Karate Kid" only his headband would be a little *lower*. It's not easy tricking a cat.