There were some favorite books and happy surprises for me among the ALA Award winners on Monday. The best was David Ezra Stein's Caldecott Honor for Interrupting Chicken (Candlewick). It was on my list! It was my six-year-old daughter Milly's most favorite book last year, too. According to the copyright page, the illustrations were done in a unique combination of watercolor, water-soluble crayon, china marker, pen, opaque white ink, and tea. They results are gorgeous--the glowing colors and painterly technique used for the little red chicken and her Papa in the main story contrast beautifully with the more old-fashioned looking pen drawings used for the stories-within-the-story (Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood, and Chicken Little). And then there's Bedtime for Papa, illustrated by the little red chicken herself (she seems to use only crayon). A classic.
I was also happy to see Margarita Engle recognized with a Pura Belpre Author Honor for The Firefly Letters: A Suffragette's Journey to Cuba. This is my favorite of Engle's verse novels (so far); I wrote about it here, quoting a passage about the Santa Lucia celebration in Sweden and its connection to the fireflies in the title (and on the cover). Engle's Hurricane Dancers: The First Caribbean Pirate Shipwreck (Henry Holt) will be out in March.
And finally, Tomie dePaola won the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award for his "substantial and lasting contribution to children's literature." I love Tomie de Paola, especially at Christmastime (it's his favorite holiday, too!), and was already happy that last year's Joy to the World: Tomie's Christmas Stories (Putnam Juvenile) includes The Story of the Three Wise Kings, which has long been out of print. Now if only Pages of Music (written by Tony Johnston, illustrated by Tomie) and An Early American Christmas were in there, it would be perfect.
What were your happy surprises on the ALA Awards list? Or (unhappily)...off of it? I have some of those, too.