ALA Annual Conference 2018 – Caldecott/Newbery/Legacy Banquet

This year, I only attended the speeches at the Banquet. The day before, the Wilder Award got renamed the Children’s Literature Legacy Award (effective immediately). The description of the award (and previous winners, including Laura Ingalls Wilder) stayed the same. (More on that later.) Here are my notes on the speeches.

Caldecott Medal Winner, Matthew Cordell, for Wolf in the Snow

Matthew Cordell began by saying that New Orleans is a personally significant city for him and represents our people and our country at its very best.

He grew up and went to school wanting to do graphic design. It was meeting and marrying a children’s librarian that got him started on children’s books. He started noticing picture books, including William Steig and Quentin Blake.

Adults are judgey and annoying, pretentious, jaded….
Kids are scary but accepting, odd and funny.

After illustrating his wife’s book, he started writing and illustrating his own work. “I subtly rip off the unbridled brilliance of my children daily.”

When you’re feeling blue, it’s effective to make pathetic passive-aggressive art. That’s how the first image of a wolf came about.

Then he read about wolves – they’re not creepy, dark, or vicious. And they want nothing to do with people.

He saw the story between wolves and people played out between people and other people.

If we can bridge fear with kindness, we can change the world.

Children need heroes – they need look no farther than schools and libraries.

To his wife – “Thank you for leading our wolf pack to greatness.”

Newbery Medal Winner, Erin Entrada Kelly, for Hello, Universe

First she told a story about her mother, who came to America to marry an American sailor. Erin didn’t look like the other kids at school. “What are you?” they asked her. She didn’t know how to answer.

She learned to escape through books.

The other thing that set her apart was her big dream: To get published. She wrapped it around her shoulders and it kept her warm.

She writes books for her characters – and other kids like them.

Her greatest wish is that her readers will feel less alone.

Books are incredible – and Librarians help them find their way.

We make dreams come true by putting books in the hands of kids.

“Once upon a time there was a little girl, and all her dreams came true.”

Children’s Literature Legacy Award winner, Jacqueline Woodson

[Note: The name of this award was changed the day before from the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award. The description is still the same – for a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children.

Here’s the ALSC page about the award.

This sentence is significant: “While we are committed to preserving access to Wilder’s work for readers, we must also consider if her legacy today does justice to this particular award for lifetime achievement, given by an organization committed to all children.”]

On to the speech! Jacqueline Woodson did say that in view of the name change and the events of this week (news reports of children in cages), the speech we heard was significantly different than the one she wrote in advance, which got posted.

She began with a poem from Rainer Maria Rillke. He was a writer of his time.

What does it mean to be a writer of your time?

We’re showing who we truly are in this time. Writing shows our essence.

“It’s been a tough year. If we think not, we’re in deep denial or on a hell of good medication.”

Art is what helps her get through. To escape, to laugh, to think.

Every one of us has a right to safely move through this world. That’s why she was asking, “Isn’t there a less controversial award they can give a sister?”

She wants to do the work that shines a light on the beauty of all people.

“None of us are writers. We’re all re-writers.”

Writing has a complicated journey.

May it remind us all of the work ahead.

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