Usually, on this night, I am dressed up and sitting with a group of librarians to celebrate the #Newbery and #Caldecott Awards. This year, I still wanted it to be special. So, I treated my family to Yogurtland. I wore my “This Is How I Roll” t- shirt featuring a book truck. And, I got to visit the homes of amazingly talented authors and illustrators and listen to their inspiring words from my living room. I loved every minute of it. I encourage you to watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPOrSDaxsaE
There are so many favorite moments, but a few highlights…
In her Caldecott acceptance speech, illustrator Michaela Goade was truly an inspiration as the first indigenous/BIPOC woman to win a Caldecott. I want to listen to her speech over and over from her beautiful description of her home in Alaska to her discussion of her illustrations for “We Are Water Protectors” to her hope that this honor will inspire indigenous authors, illustrators, and children. As she said, “Indigenous wisdom can help change the world.” (Anyone who has read Carole Lindstrom’s book knows this already!)
Newbery winner Tae Keller’s acceptance “speech” for “When You Trap a Tiger” was truly endearing and had me in tears. I put the term “speech” in quotes because she encouraged viewers to think of it as a visit to her living room drinking tea, swapping stories, and sharing gossip. (I can’t tell you HOW much I want to visit and drink tea with Keller!) She talked about when she writes, she thinks of her Halmoni. With her words and stories, her heart expanded. Her universe expanded. But, at the same time, stories can also bring us home and guide us back to ourselves. Keller asks, “Without stories, who are we?…Telling stories, hearing stories breaks down the walls of our hearts.” (Please listen to the whole speech as these quotes alone do not do her beautiful words justice.)
The evening ended with the Children’s Literature Legacy Award honoring Mildred D. Taylor for her body of work. Taylor gave an inspiring speech about her career as an author. Through her writing, she wanted to show black people as heroic (different from the books that she had read in school). “All the Days Past, All the Days to Come,” published in 2020, is the final book in the stories about the Logan family. She said that this was the most difficult book to write and is one of her four favorites. (The other three are “Song of the Trees” because it was her first, “Land” because it is based on her grandfather, and, of course, “Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.”) She beautifully thanked her family and “the millions of African Americans whose stories are sewn into the fabric of America.” Thank you for your touching words…tonight and in your books, Ms. Taylor.
Just when you thought the evening was over, ALSC announced that this officially begins the Newbery 100th Anniversary Celebration and revealed the Newbery 100 logos (with designs by past winners Cece Bell, Jerry Craft, Kevin Henkes, Victoria Jamieson, and Grace Lin.) You can order your swag here: https://shop.spreadshirt.com/ALAGraphics-Gift-Shop/newbery100
Congratulations to all of the winners! I can’t wait until we can all be in person again!
P.S. Cozbi Cabrera should win an additional acting award for her great pantomime performance of receiving a Caldecott honor!