First of all, oh em gee, it was so exciting to file past the crowds to our Arbuthnot Committee's reserved seats at the press conference. I felt like quite the fancy pants.
Very glad they found a place for Wonderstruck, since I still believe it's one of the best of the year. The one question I had about it (whether it was plausible for Rose to write out such a long story) was answered in the affirmative by someone in my Morris Seminar discussion group.
Really happy to see Why We Broke Up honored. It's a special book, and it shows Handler's versatility as an author.
Haven't read Where Things Come Back, but Walter Mayes was freaking out about both of its wins (this and the Morris Award for a book by a debut author) in the row in front of me, so I will have to make the effort. I also ran into a committee member in the airport who was (of course) singing its praises.
In retrospect, this feels a little bit like a much-lauded film winning an award for editing. The analogy is not perfect - I love audiobooks and have much respect for their producers, and I heard this one is excellent - but wow, Okay for Now had a lot of buzz going in and... this was it. An Odyssey honor.
On the other hand, the medalist in this category - Rotters - sounds quite intriguing.
My committee! Unlike most of the other awards/honors announced at the YMA, the Arbuthnot lecturer is chosen at the previous year's Annual Conference. So we've been sitting on this one since last June. Our choice of lecturer - Michael Morpurgo - seemed to be well-received by the crowd.
Of course everyone* was shocked that Amelia Lost didn't get a nod. But you know what? Just in my Morris Seminar discussion group, we found two factual errors in photo captions. We'll never know why the committee chose not to bestow their approval on it, but I'm sure they had their reasons.
*Everyone = the 10-15 people I happened to speak to.
The medalist was a surprise, but I was so happy to see I Want My Hat Back recognized somewhere. I would have preferred Caldecott, but I think it does indeed work well as a beginning reader. It is also (as Jonathan Hunt pointed out re: I Broke My Trunk) basically a dramatic text, and hence provides an inviting read-aloud experience for the new reader.
These are all clearly excellent choices. No real surprises. A few of my favorites were missing, but as I said, I think 2011 was a banner year for picture books. Brother Sun, Sister Moon and Naamah and the Ark at Night, I hope you find your audiences, because you deserve much love.
It's hard to argue with A Ball for Daisy as the big winner. I wonder sometimes whether wordless books have an advantage in this category, but this one definitely uses wordlessness to full emotional effect.
Finally, Gantos gets the gold! Thoughts:
1. A funny** book wins the Newbery! That's weird.
2. A historical fiction, coming-of-age story with a male protagonist wins the Newbery. That's not weird.
3. Boy oh boy, am I glad that I already booked Jack Gantos for our author visit this spring.
4. This is going to be an excellent Newbery speech. Sam and I already bought our banquet tickets.
And then, of course, the honor books (only two!). Inside Out and Back Again is a solid, unsurprising choice, though verse novels are not my thing. Breaking Stalin's Nose was a total surprise, though shrewdly forecasted by the Horn Book. I can't wait to read it!
**Allegedly funny, I should say. I didn't laugh, but then I was rather humorlessly trying to work my way through a long Mock Newbery reading list, so I'll probably give it another go.