The place: San Francisco. The occasion: ALA Annual. The party: Caldecott. From January 2014 – January 2015, I studiously studied. I looked at over 500 picture books, and along with 14 other intrepid souls, decided which of those were the most distinguished. Our committee is incredibly proud of our list of books. And this year at ALA annual, we got to celebrate with the distinguished artists in the class of 2015.
Starting with a great street party for Melissa Sweet (which included yummy tacos & a baby shower), and then the next night a dinner with all 6 honor winners, followed the next evening by “Dinner with Dan”, and then Sunday the Caldecott-Newbery-Wilder awards banquet, it was a wild and fun ride!
But it wasn’t just fine dining. At each of these events our committee got to have some quality time with the illustrators that we honored. And we felt honored to do that. Each one of them thanked us profusely. I can speak for myself only (though I have a feeling many of my co-committee members will be shaking their heads yes), but I felt like I should be thanking them for their work, for their contribution to children’s literature. In Dan Santat’s award acceptance speech, he said the Caldecott changed his life. I must say, it changed ours, as well, Mr. Santat. 15 people became fast friends, confidantes, cohorts, colleagues. We bonded over art, over time spent together, and yes, even tattoos. This great party we called San Francisco created memories to last a lifetime.
At the banquet, I was asked by Mac Barnett if serving on the Caldecott Committee was exciting as it sounds. I had to say a resounding yes to that. And you know what folks, only an ALSC member can do this. I’ve been a member for 21 years, and yes, I worked hard to get to a place where I could serve on this illustrious committee. But so can you. If it is your dream (as it was mine as a starry-eyed grad student), then work towards it. The rewards are immense, and they go far beyond a fancy cocktail dinner (though those are certainly nice, too). Thanks to all the publishers who wined and dined us, to all my committee members who opened my eyes to so many viewpoints, to the illustrators and authors who make amazing books, and to ALSC for being there to hold up children’s books as shining stars. Thank you all!