It was so wonderful to be able to be in person again for the Newbery Caldecott Legacy Banquet at #ALAAC2022. And to celebrate 100 years of the #Newbery! (The Caldecott was celebrating its 84th anniversary with the first medal given in 1938.)
After a warm welcome from ALA President Patty Wong and #ALSC President Lucia M. Gonzalez, guests got to enjoy dinner that appropriately started with a watercress and watermelon salad.
(All the awardees made inspiring speeches, and I cried multiple times throughout the night.)
Caldecott winner Jason Chin discussed (and thanked) his mentor Trina Schart Hyman (1985 Caldecott winner for Saint George and the Dragon.) Through her, Chin learned that “to make great art, you have to put your whole self into it and become one with what you are painting.” For anyone who has read the 2022 award-winning Watercress, it is clear that Chin did exactly this. He explained that, ultimately, he chose to use watercolors because they allowed him to incorporate Chinese techniques. Chin ended his speech by wishing a “Happy Anniversary” to his wife.
In her speech, Newbery winner Donna Barba Higuera talked about cuentistas. Higuera, herself, is the ultimate cuentista. She explained that a cuentista is not simply a “storyteller” but is a storyteller known to embellish or twist the story. Higuera grew up thinking that she was “a liar” because she liked to tell stories. Her first story was to her parents and neighbors when she told them that an alien ship had landed in her yard and that they wanted her to eat candy! Interestingly, Higuera’s The Last Cuentista is also about a spaceship, but it is about so much more…our ultimate fear of the erasure of history, art, and books. (I am not worried because, for as long as Higuera and the Newbery honor authors write, the world will not have to worry!)
Grace Lin then accepted the Children’s Literature Legacy Award (with her adorable daughter by her side!) After talking about how wonderful it was to “sit here and suck each other’s book love,” Lin got very personal and talked about the discrimination and disparagement that she has encountered throughout her career as well as the racial insults that she and her family have endured. But, she talked about the hope and the importance of her Asian American community and of the community of educators who are not only the “true essential workers” but are the “true essential workers of the spirit.”
Throughout her speech, attendees were treated to drawing breaks. Each table had sheets of paper that said “I Drew with Grace Lin” and Grace Lin Legacy Award pencils (truly awesome souvenirs of the evening). Lin took us through several steps at a time until we had drawn fireflies…because when others see us as bugs, we must show them that we are FIREFLIES “who can change the landscape of the night” from dark and gloom into HOPE.
Personally, I know that I will remember and rely on these speeches that were so full of HOPE….which was just what I needed to hear. If you were not able to attend the Banquet, you will be able to hear the speeches which were recorded by Weston Woods and will soon be available on ALSC’s website.
Happy Birthday, Newbery!
(Photo courtesy of guest blogger)
Conference guest contributor Soline Holmes (she/her/hers) is a librarian and the Library/Technology Department chair at Academy of the Sacred Heart in New Orleans, Louisiana. Soline is excited to be back in person at ALA and is looking forward to the Newbery/Caldecott banquet and ALSC’s Newbery 100 Celebration! on Saturday, June 25. She is a Member-at-Large for ALA’s Graphic Novels and Comics Roundtable. She also serves on the Louisiana Young Readers Choice Award committee, is a board member of the New Orleans Information Literacy Collective (2021-22 Chair), and is a Teaching with Primary Sources Network Mentor. She has given presentations on graphic novels, Mother Goose and STEM, Primary Sources, and Global Education at local and national conferences. Soline also co-authored, with Alicia Schwarzenbach, an article about graphic novels as informational texts for Children and Libraries and was interviewed for Book Links about how to best use graphic novels in the classroom. Most recently, she was selected for and honored to participate in ALSC’s Bill Morris seminar. Look for Soline as the moderator of a session of the GNCRT’s Friday Forum about Comics Challenges.
Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.