American Library Association announces award winners; Peck, Small receive Newbery, Caldecott Medals

Independent publishers Candlewick Press (Because of Winn-Dixie) and Handprint Books (Casey at the Bat: A Ballad of the Republic Sung in the Year 1888) win Honor Awards.
Richard Peck, author of "A Year Down Yonder," and David Small, illustrator of "So You Want To Be President?" are the 2001 winners of the John Newbery and Randolph Caldecott Medals.

Peck and Small were among the award winners announced by the American Library Association (ALA) during its Midwinter Meeting in Washington, D.C. Considered the "Academy Awards" of children's book publishing, the Newbery and Caldecott Medals honor outstanding writing and illustration of works published in the United States during the previous year.

"A Year Down Yonder," published by Dial Books for Young Readers, a division of Penguin Putnam, Inc., showcases a linked series of carefully crafted vignettes set in rural Illinois during the Depression, when 15-year-old Mary Alice leaves Chicago to spend a year with Grandma Dowdel. Her initial apprehension at life in a small town with a scheming old woman gradually gives way to admiration and love as she recognizes the warm heart behind Grandma's shenanigans.

"Peck's characters are fully realized, from the quiet widow nursing her war-injured son, to Maxine Patch, running out of Grandma's house draped only in the biggest snake outside the Brookfield Zoo," said Caroline S. Parr, chair of the Newbery Award Selection Committee. "These stories will, like Maxine, streak 'straight into the annals of undying fame."'

Small received the Caldecott Medal for his illustrations in "So You Want to Be President?" written by Judith St. George and published by Philomel Books, a division of Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers. Through illustrations rendered in a harmonious mix of watercolor, ink and pastel chalk, Small employs wiry and expansive lines with an echo of political cartooning investing this personable history of the presidency with imaginative detail, wry humor and refreshing dignity.

"Small's illustrations liberate the presidents from years of bulletin-board duty. He humanizes these oh-so-familiar icons with art that captures the spirit of the individual and collectively provides a genuinely enlightening overview of this unique American institution," said Connie Rockman, chair of the Caldecott Award Selection Committee.

Four Newbery Honor Books also were named: "Hope Was Here," by Joan Bauer, published by G. P. Putnam's Sons; "The Wanderer" by Sharon Creech, published by HarperCollinsPublishers/Joanna Cotler Books; "Because of Winn-Dixie" by Kate DiCamillo, published by Candlewick Press; and "Joey Pigza Loses Control," by Jack Gantos, published by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.

Three Caldecott Honor Books also were named: "Casey at the Bat: A Ballad of the Republic Sung in the Year 1888," illustrated by Christopher Bing and published by Handprint Books; "Click, Clack, Moo: Cows that Type," illustrated by Betsy Lewin and published by Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers; and "Olivia," illustrated by Ian Falconer and published by Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division/Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an Anne Schwartz Book.

The awards are administered by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the ALA.