Notes from the Caldecott/Newbery/Wilder Banquet
Dan Santat Caldecott Winner
He’s 40, but he feels like a kid pretending to be an adult.
Still feels like he’s pretending to know what he’s doing.
11 years in publishing, over 60 books.
Santat is alphabetically next to Seuss, Sendak, and Silverstein.
Always wanted to believe hard work could mask any shortcomings.
Always worried he’d be discovered as an imposter.
Slow and steady career rise.
Navigated the process by reading reviews.
He reads every single review. To search for answers. What does it take to make a great book?
Had an opportunity to work at Google making google doodles. Would have provided financial security.
Was hoping his friends would tell him to keep it real and making books is what he’s meant to do.
Finally turned it down, because he knew he’d always wonder what he could have done.
Published 13 books in 2014. Terribly tired. Felt like he had nothing left to give. Learned he’s only human. Was angry at himself for being weak. Feeling that he’d peaked. And he couldn’t push himself any more.
He wants far more than he’s capable of. Keeps wanting to work harder.
Just before getting the call, he’d reminded himself he wasn’t good enough.
Maybe is a dangerous place to be.
Magic only happens in fairy tales and feel-good movies.
You just experienced the unimaginable becoming a reality.
After 10 years of working like a dog, he realizes this is a prize that can’t be earned, but he will always try to be worthy of it.
Let him feel he’s good enough. And not invisible.
Other authors and illustrators make it look effortless.
You are the stars in the sky.
Thank you for allowing me to shine with you.
Thanks his wife who supported the decision to decline the job offer from Google.
I’m still a kid pretending to be an adult. His agent tells him what he needs to hear.
Thank to bloggers — Betsy Bird, John Schu, Travis Jonker, Colby Sharp, Nerdy Book Club
A month before Beekle was published, he was worried about the ambiguity of the ending.
To his kids: “Beekle” was his kids’ word for Bicycle. How it feels to be loved unconditionally.
Despite our insecurities, it’s our nature to work our hardest.
You are my proof that I am able to produce something perfect in this world.
Kwame Alexander, The Crossover
When I was a child, I wanted to be a fireman and a doctor and a king.
Tonight I feel like a king.
Newbery trance is not kind to clarity and conciseness.
My first librarians were my parents.
Books lined the walls and floors of our home.
Librarian: All about joy and about books.
Honored to be in this room with so many pulchritudinous librarians.
“The most distinguished literature for children” — that sounds perfect.
Went to Key West to write the speech. Went to the Mel Fisher museum — a treasure hunter who found gold.
After 20+ rejections, he finally discovered gold.
About a family — not about his family but from his own familial experiences.
Editor: “Brightly shining yes in a sea of no.”
“How do you win the Newbery?”
Learn words, love words. “Your son intimidates the other children with his words.”
How do you win the Newbery? Be interesting.
Father always hosts a book fair the day after Thanksgiving.
Books are doors to a life of sustainability and success.
Was going to be a doctor.
— Took Organic Chemistry
— Took a course on poetry with Nikki Giovanni
“She smiles like your grandma used to do when you thought you said something profound, but you didn’t.”
“I can teach you to write poetry, but I can’t teach you to be interesting.”
Wrote his wife a poem a day for a year.
Poetry found him.
Use your words. Be interesting. Be eloquent.
His story of becoming a poet.
Living an authentic life, so you’ll have something authentic to write about.
You have to answer the call.
Write a poem that dances. That looks good.
Write a poem that is contagious!
Now that’s a speech!
Wilder Award: Donald Crews
Without his late wife, Ann Jonas, he wouldn’t have gotten on this journey.
They took the fork in the road.
He used to read to his grandma, Big Mama. She said he would go somewhere.
He developed a tendency to doodle in the margins more than work on the problem at hand.
Fork in the road: Applied to and was accepted to an Arts high school.
Teacher asked him about his plans — told him he would apply to Cooper Union.
Failure was impossible.
Fork in the road: Cooper Union.
Graphics teacher told him he didn’t have much talent, but he had the determination to figure out what to do.
Fork in the road: Ann Jonas followed him to Germany and they got married.
Included a book for children in his portfolio. — A to Z
First rejections were in German
Fork in the road: Freelance work.
Failure was impossible.
Fork in the road: Find something only you can do.
Fork in the road: Began to think about his picture books. Freight Train
First book as a full-time children’s book creator.
Parade has a cameo of himself.
Led to Big Mama’s, and now black people fundamental to the books.
Also encouraged Ann to try children’s books.
She supplied the courage to try to be successful artists in New York.
He unreservedly shares any honor with her.
Afterward, a highlight is going through the Receiving Line and getting to congratulate all the Award Winners in person.