Monday, June 25, 2007

Reflections on the Newbery Caldecott Banquet

I didn't get to ALA this year. Not in reality at least. But I have a memory of last year's conference. Meeting librarians, signing copies of BLUE, hearing some buzz about BLUE - exhilarating stuff, I say! But best part of all was the Newbery and Caldecott Awards Banquet. I remember so well walking with Suzanne Bloom (A Splendid Friend Indeed) whom I met just that very minute and with others from Boyds Mills Press/Front Street - through the heat of New Orleans street to the hotel where the banquet was held. And sitting with Helen Hemphill (Long Gone Daddy and Runaround), Heidi Mordquist (Squeeze) and some folks from the Notables Committe who were so kind as to explain how the Notables are chosen!

There was a mysterious young woman at our table. We whispered and wondered and were told she is a book reviewer. Ah, but she looked so young - so quiet and thoughtful! Her nametag said Elizabeth Bird (or was it Betsy?). I only learned a few weeks later (when a review of BLUE showed up on her blogspot) just how influential this Elizabeth is. And also that she was on last year's Newbery Committee! Yikes! (I was so relieved that she mostly liked Blue!)

Okay, so back to the point of this post. Last night was the Newbery Caldecott Banquet. I'd just returned from presenting at the MidSouth Reading and Writing Institute in Birmingham so I could not go to ALA this year. But boy oh boy, was I thinking about the banquet! And sending up prayers for Cindy Lord, Kirby Larson, Jennifer Holm, and Susan Patron. I do hope it was glorious!

I've read (and loved) all their books by now. I just read Higher Power of Lucky last week. I loved its quirkiness and all I learned about life in the desert. It's message was simple and plainitive and very childlike.

I wish I'd heard Susan's speech. And seen Cindy, Kirby and Jennifer soaking up the experience! But there will be other ALA's. Other Newbery Caldecott banquets. I plan to be at some of them!

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