From the Desk of Phil and Erin Stead
After much contemplation, deliberation, and lively discussion, we, the Steads, are proud to announce The Second Annual Steadbery and Phildecott Awards—a celebration of our favorite books of 2010. You can find a complete list of last year's winners by clicking here. The criteria for selection are as follows:
Authors and illustrators selected for the awards must have had their book published in the United States during the previous calendar year. However, unlike the real Caldecott and Newbery Awards, the author or illustrator need not be a United States citizen or resident. Basically, this is just a list of the books that have excited, inspired, and challenged us this year year to be better authors and illustrators ourselves. 2010 was an amazing year for children's books, especially picture books. Last year Rebecca Stead (no relation) wrote what we considered to be one of the best middle-grade novels of the last 20 years, When You Reach Me. This year it was the picture book authors and illustrators that really blew our minds (and let's face it, intimidated us). Then again, there was some great middle-grade and YA material too! Oh, man. So many good books, so little time. Let's begin with the Steadbery.
The Second Annual Steadbery Award, for the most outstanding contribution to children's literature in 2010, goes to...
I Know Here, by Laurel Croza (illustrated by Matt James)
I Know Here occupies a strange middle ground between picture book and middle-grade fiction—fully illustrated, but with a longer and more emotionally complex text. It's quite simply one of the finest works of short, short fiction we've ever read. Truly inspiring. Due to her Canadian citizenship Laurel is not eligible for the Newbery this year (as far as we know). Sigh.
This year we've selected six Steadbery Honor books. Each one is wonderful and completely different from one another. We'll start with another Canadian:
Plain Kate, by Erin BowJust a great, great story. The cover might make you think that it's a book for girls. All I can say is (Phil speaking here) that I'm basically a 10 year old boy at heart and I LOVED this book. Can't wait for your next offering Ms. Bow!
Next we have a book that any 10 year old boy will love:
The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, by Tom Angelberger
Great title. Great storytelling device. Just a fun, fun book.
Next we're off to the Netherlands with:
Departure Time, by Truus Matti
Departure Time is one of the most unusual and ultimately rewarding books of the year. It challenges perceptions of what a children's novel can be. Yet I find myself at a loss to
describe exactly what this book is. You know when you wake up from a dream, and although the dream was bizarre, the dream still somehow made perfect sense. That feeling is the feeling that Departure Time offers to its readers. It's ambitious without pretension. Its gorgeous and sad and uplifting all at the same time.
Next up we have:
Scrawl, by Mark Shulman
Full disclosure: Scrawl was published by Roaring Brook Press/Neal Porter Books which also happens to be our publisher/editor. Scrawl is the type of book you pick up only to discover that 3 hours have passed and you've completed the story. It's written plainly in a way that makes you think: Sure, I could write a novel. And if I did, it would sound just like this. Of course, it's not quite that easy.
Now to Germany for:
Remembering Crystal, by Sebastian Loth
Picture books are often ignored when it comes to the the writing. It makes sense. After all, it's the pictures that make us pull the book off the shelf in the first place. But the writing in Remembering Crystal is impossible to ignore. Writing about death is no easy task for any reading level. For a picture book it's dang near impossible to touch on the subject unhamhandedly (no, that's not a word). Remembering Crystal will move even the hardest, most cynical children's book fans to tears. Simply beautiful.
And last, but not least:
One Crazy Summer, by Rita Williams-Garcia
There's not too many kid's books out there with story lines dealing with the Black Panthers. One Crazy Summer has a great premise, and is told expertly. What more can you ask for?
Well, that does it for the 2011 Steadbery Awards. Congratulations to the winners. Of course, the pleasure was all ours. You made the year worth reading.
We'll continue this post tomorrow (it's getting late here in Ann Arbor) with the Second Annual Phildecott Awards. And oh boy, there's some good ones!
Phil and Erin Stead