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Maria Salvadore

Reading Rockets' children's literature expert, Maria Salvadore, brings you into her world as she explores the best ways to use kids' books both inside — and outside — of the classroom.

Guessing the gold!

January 4, 2011

If you want to join what is now known as the Youth Media Awards via the web, you'll have to get up mighty early if you live on the west coast.

The announcement of the oldest and most widely known children's book awards will take place during the midwinter conference of the American Library Association which will be in San Diego (CA). At this press conference, streamed live on Monday, January 10 from 7:30 to 9:00 a.m., the Newbery, Caldecott, and the Coretta Scott King Awards will be among those announced.

For as many years as I've been involved with children's books, I'm more often than not surprised by the choices. Each committee, different every year, has its own energy — and it's that unique blend that allows one book to be named each year.

What might be given the gold (or silver) this year? It's wide open! Here are some books that may be discussed. The books suggested here, by the way, are not presented in any order simply as they occurred to me.

City Dog Country Dog by Mo Willems, illustrated by Jon Muth (Hyperion) is a poignant story of an unlikely friendship illustrated with lush, expressive watercolors.

Possibilities are explored as Laura Vaccaro Seeger explores the What If? (Roaring Brook) of sharing on a beach. Minimum text encourages multiple examinations of rich illustrations.

During a storm, a rat terrier is separated from his friend, Abba Jacob, on an isolated atoll in Snook Alone by Marilyn Nelson, illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering (Candlewick). Evocative line and wash illustrations vividly portray emotions in this action-packed story.

Dramatic collage art follows one female Asiatic black bear in this engaging but passionate call for conservation in Brenda Guiberson's Moon Bear illustrated by Ed Young (Holt).

Art & Max by David Wiesner (Clarion) examines the creative process as explored by two reptilian friends. There's a reason Wiesner has been awarded the Caldecott Medal three times!

Ballet for Martha by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan, illustrated by Brian Floca (Roaring Brook) explores a different sort of creativity; this time how music, dance, and sets come together to produce a ballet. Spare illustrations breathe life into a lucid text.

Denise Fleming's distinctive paper collage illustration successfully present a rhythmic, gentle, brilliantly hued bedtime book for the young in Sleepy, Oh So Sleepy (Holt).

Is It's a Book by Lane Smith (Roaring Brook) a strong contender? Probably not, but it is such fun (at least for older children and adults), I had to give it a mention!

Child of the Civil Rights Movement by Paula Young Shelton, illustrated by Raul Colon (Schwartz & Wade) is based on the author's experience as the daughter of a significant Civil Rights leader. Illustrations both inform and evoke the period, people and emotions.

There's magic in Chalk by Bill Thomson (Marshall Cavendish). Dramatic illustrations in acrylic and colored pencil tell the story of what happens when chalk drawings come to life.

Got other suggestions? Feel free to weigh in! We'll see how well we did after the official Caldecott Committee's deliberations!

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"Oh, magic hour, when a child first knows she can read printed words!" — A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, 1943