Here are some of the many books honored by the American Library Association with awards this morning, including the prestigious Caldecott Award (Finding Winnie, illustrated by Sophie Blackall) and Newbery Award (Last Stop on Market Street, written by Matt de la Pena).

For a full list of these award-winning books for kids, visit the American Library Association website, and check our catalog to read them for yourself.

Blueberries for Sal
by Robert McCloskey

Every year for my birthday, my neighbor would take me to the bookstore to buy a new book. This was one of my first.  I spent the summers in Maine and this book still makes me happy thinking of blueberries. It was the first book we bought for our son.

- Stephanie, Government & Community Affairs 

Visit NYPL’s exhibition, The ABC Of ItWhy Children’s Books Matter!

The idea that “diverse books” limit potential readership assumes that the Newbery and Caldecott awards should, by default, reflect a white experience. Perhaps that assumption exists because, for much of their history, they have….

This year is about “us” finally starting to catch up, and it’s about
recognizing appeal and reading interest for the diversity of readers the literature serves. This year’s awards have not answered the lack of diverse award winners, nor addressed the white privilege that stands in the way of achieving more diverse books, but they do, collectively, whether intended or not, ask us to confront it. They show us that it is not just the presence of “diverse books” that matters, but how we assign value to our standards for excellence among them.


It’s the perfect day (and month) to revisit our coverage of Ezra Jack Keats’ classic The Snowy Day, which celebrated its 50th anniversary a few years ago. The Snowy Day, a 1963 Caldecott winner, was the first mainstream children’s book to feature a non-caricatured African-American protagonist.

In 2012, Ezra Jack Keats Foundation director Deborah Pope told NPR:

“There was a teacher [who] wrote in to Ezra, saying, ‘The kids in my class, for the first time, are using brown crayons to draw themselves.’ These are African-American children. Before this, they drew themselves with pink crayons. But now, they can see themselves.”

You can see the rest of that story (and hear the book read, in its entirety, by Reading Rainbow superstar Levar Burton) here.

(OK, I’m tooting my own horn a little here, because I produced this piece, back in my Weekend All Things Considered days, but come on – LEVAR BURTON! Who, by the way, was one of the most pleasant and delightful people I’ve ever dealt with.)

My favorite picture book of the year is Journey by Aaron Becker, a wordless story about a girl who draws her way into a magical world.  If you loved Harold and the Purple Crayon when you were younger, you owe it to yourself to experience the beauty of this story, Harold's older-cousin-of-sorts.  The ALA announced yesterday that Journey, published by Candlewick Press, received the Caldecott Honor.  You’ll be mesmerized by Aaron Becker’s dazzling artwork and enchanting story.

This 1885 children’s illustration - entitled “a cat and her kittens came tumbling in” - was drawn by none other than legendary artist Randolph Caldecott, the man for whom the Caldecott Medal is named. We thought the drawing (currently in our Mid-Manhattan Picture Collection) would be a fun Caturday post (plus, according to the title, the cats are ALREADY Tumbling, so c'mon. It was meant to be). Happy Caturday!
The ALA Awards have been announced! I LOVE AWARDS SEASON!

For the first year in forever I haven’t read any of the Newberys for the year! FAIL! It was a bad reading year for me. This year is going to be better. (21 so far! HOLLA![ok, so I am totally not the sort of person that says HOLLA but I had an undeniable urge to say it there so there you are. Holla. Apparently I join ridiculous, obnoxious trends about 7 years too late.])

But I’ve read and loved all the Caldecotts (I mean - A Ball for Daisy is totally more for the adults then the children and I wish the Caldecott would more often pick the child friendly book then the cerebral gorgeous book but it’s a lovely book so I’m not going to complain), and I’ve read and loved both the Geisels, so I’m happy.  And Under the Mesquite won the Belpre!  HECK FREAKING YEAH!  I loved that book!  So much!  

And that is my ALA Award round-up.  What do y'all think of the winners?



By TeddyBoy Sinclair

 Finding Winnie: The True Story of World’s Most Famous Bear,

Written by Lindsay Mattick, illustrated by Sophie Blackall

Imagine that…there are other animals that might be more famous than cats.  Who knew?

 In this book, (that won a fancy pants childrens’ book award in 2016), a young orphaned bear cub ends up at a train station in a northern land called Canada, in the town of Winnipeg.  A soldier, who is really a veterinarian, plans to travel to the other side of the ocean to fight in a war where even horses are called to serve. 

(I don’t understand why humans do all this travelling.  When do they have time for 3 hour naps several times a day?) 

The veterinarian, Dr. Harry Colebourn, rescues the bear and names him, “Winnie” in honor of the city Winnipeg.  Well, I guess you’ve got to name even a bear.

 When the vet has to cross the ocean to a land called England, he can’t ‘bear’ to abandon Winnie…who now sleeps under his bed. So, he takes Winnie with him on the big boat.  Note to Winnie:  you’re supposed to sleep on top of the bed, next to the warm human—not under the bed on the cold floor.

 But bears grow up to be very big, and when the vet has to leave England and travel to France to take care of the war horses, he arranges for Winnie to have a new home:  the London Zoo.

 A little boy, named Christopher Robin Milne, comes to the zoo with his dad, A. A. Milne, who happens to be a writer.  The zoo keepers allow the human boy into Winnie’s cage so he can play with the bear.  Can you imagine that happening today? 

Long story short.  Little boy names his stuffed teddy bear, Winnie-the-Pooh.  Dad writes story about Winnie-the-Pooh and bear becomes very famous and millions of books are sold.  

Go figure.  How does a book without a cat sell so many copies?

Follow TeddyBoy’s  adventures on his Facebook page 

At the New York Public Library’s exhibit on why children’s books matter, people can sit in the room from Goodnight, Moon; watch Alice grow in Wonderland; and, my personal favorite, see how you stack next to a lifesize Wild Thing. The Wild Thing is cut into Max’s crown (one side is gold, the other is fur) and it’s fun to stand inside, roaring your terrible roars, gnashing your terrible teeth, as you wait for the wild rumpus to begin!

10 Caldecott Award Winners That Have Stood the Test of Time

 A Ball for Daisy, written and illustrated by Chris Raschka, just won the 2012 Caldecott Medal! Youth Materials Specialist Betsy Bird shares her picks for 10 winners that have stood the test of time.

1942: Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey (Viking)
These ducklings don’t age (and how great is it that one of them was named Ouack?).

1943: The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton (Houghton)
A story where urbanization intrudes on the surrounding countryside? 1943 is starting to feel a whole heck of a lot like 2012.

1954: Madeline’s Rescue by Ludwig Bemelmans (Viking)
Saucy without being snarky, headstrong but never bratty, this is the ultimate Can We Get a Dog? story.

1957: A Tree Is Nice, illustrated by Marc Simont; text: Janice Udry (Harper)
Trees make for good subject matter, particularly these days when we need them more than ever.

1964: Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak (Harper)
The best picture book ever written in the English language for children? You decide.

1968: Drummer Hoff, illustrated by Ed Emberley; text: adapted by Barbara Emberley (Prentice-Hall)
Written at the height of the Vietnam War, this rhyme makes a subtle statement about armed conflicts.

1976: Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears, illustrated by Leo & Diane Dillon; text: retold by Verna Aardema (Dial)
This enjoyable folktale’s language is matched only by its stunning visuals.

1982: Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg (Houghton)
Like an episode of The Twilight Zone for kids, you’ll never look at your board games the same way again.

1990: Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China by Ed Young (Philomel)
Little Red Riding Hood gets a whole new twist in this retelling. See if you can spot the wolf hiding in the illustrations.

2000: Joseph Had a Little Overcoat by Simms Taback (Viking)
Mr. Taback left us just this past Christmas but his fabulous die-cut extravaganza lives on in hearts and minds.


Ezra Jack Keats…

crossed social boundaries by breaking the color barrier in mainstream children’s literature. With his 1962 classic The Snowy Day, Keats portrayed a children’s world of tenements and empty lots as a backdrop for games, dilemmas and friendships; and the happiness, loneliness, fear, and courage that children experience the world over. He believed strongly that children of color should see themselves as heroes in picture books and that all readers should see characters of different ethnic backgrounds living and learning the same way they do. Source

The Snowy Day, featuring Peter, was awarded the Caldecott Medal in 1963, the most distinguished honor available for illustrated children’s literature at the time.

Peter appears in six more books:

Whistle for Willie

Peter’s Chair

A Letter for Amy


Hi, Cat!

Pet Show!

growing from a small boy in The Snowy Day to adolescence in Pet Show!

January is Snowy Day Month

A month ago, I could never have told you that I loved Mirette on the High Wire as a kid—but I saw its cover framed in the Penguin halls recently (note the shiny Caldecott medal!) and was instantly taken back to this story. I ordered it into the office, and have spent this morning going over the pages. Maybe my Francophilia started here? (This, or Beauty and the Beast.) Either way, it’s always a delight to find new favorite things about my job, and today, it’s re-discovering beloved childhood books..

Obit of the Day: Two-Time Caldecott Award Winner

Leo and Diane Dillon were the only back-to-back winners of the Caldecott Medal, given to the illustrators of “the most distinguished American picture book for children.” In 1976, the Dillons won the award for Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears by Verna Aardema and followed up the next year with an award for their illustrations of Margaret Musgrove’s Ashanti to Zulu: African Traditions.

Leo Dilllon and Diane Sorber met while students at Parsons School of Design in New York City and married in 1957. They began working freelance before working co-illustrating their first children’s book, The Ring in the Prairie by John Bierhorst, in 1970. Their final book together, If Kids Ran the World, will be published in 2014. In between the couple illustrated more than 40 books for children.

Leo Dillon passed away at the age of 79.

Random Note: The Dillons also illustrated covers for various novels including works by Leo Tolstoy and Harlan Ellison. To see examples, click here.

(Why Mosquitoes Buzz in Peoples Ears is copyright Dial Books, an imprint of Penguin Books and courtesy of

In May 2012 we lost 1964 Caldecott Medal winner Maurice Sendak and in January 2012 OOTD recognized 2000 Caldecott Medal winner (and Happy Meal box designer) Simms Taback. You can find a full list of Caldecott Award winners here.