Monday, January 14, 2008

I've never been so happy to be wrong

Did you hear shouts of joy at 8:28 a.m. this morning, Eastern time? That would have been me, screaming and cheering in delight as I heard the news that The Invention of Hugo Cabret had just won the Caldecott Medal.

It's been a busy day in the children's book selling world. There was frantic dictation as the awards were announced. There were hurried phone calls to distributors, publishers and reps to secure as many of the winning books as possible. There was scouring of bookshelves and overstock to find every last copy of every book that had just been anointed with a magic sticker. There were signs that had to be made, and books that had to be organized and re-organized to make room for the winners. There were conversations with colleagues about which books won. Oh, and there was all the other business of a regular Monday to attend to. So, it's been a long day.

But now, I finally have a minute to sit down. And here's the first thing I want to do: stand up.

I want to give a standing ovation to the 2008 Caldecott committee. I want to applaud you for making a brave and gutsy choice and for recognizing the most distinguished book of the year.

If you're a regular reader of this blog, you'll know that I wrote a very detailed post about why Hugo Cabret wasn't going to win the Newbery Medal, even though I really, really, really wanted it to. Not because it's not a great book, but because the Newbery is all about text, not illustrations. And Hugo Cabret is all about illustrations. And while Hugo Cabret was eligible for the Caldecott, selecting something that isn't a "picture book" would fly in the face of Caldecott tradition.

And yet, they did it. They awarded it the Caldecott Medal. Now, the book will be in schools and libraries everywhere and will be in print for decades to come. And it's an excellent, timeless book and it deserves to be where children can get their hands on it. Bravo to the courageous members of Caldecott committee. And, thank you.

Incidentally, when I put signs above the 534 page Caldecott winner and the 85 page Newbery winner today, it looked like I made a mistake. But I didn't... and neither did the committee.

Update: Now that I've had a chance to look around at other blogs, I see that several people commented on the huge ovation Hugo Cabret received when it was announced as the Caldecott winner. Although I was watching the webcast, I didn't hear the applause of the crowd. Why? Because I was too busy screaming.

Additional Update: I just watched the webcast again, this time in far calmer circumstances. I can't believe that I missed the unbelievable amount of applause that stopped the show when Hugo was announced. I must have been really screaming.

Yet Another Update: Here are my reactions to the other 2008 ALA awards. And, did I correctly predict the winners and have them in stock at our store? See my scorecard. And this post tells you where to go to hear the Hugo Cabret Caldecott announcement cheer for yourself.

One More Update: Nah, I don't have anything to say this time. False alarm.


  1. I thought of you this morning when I heard the announcement! I just happened to check out our copy of Hugo yesterday, since you gave it such a glowing review. I haven't started it yet, but I can't wait. Kudos to the Caldecott committee for making a bold choice in not selecting a picture book. Incidentally, what did you think of the Newbery selection?

  2. I thought of you as soon as I heard the news, Susan! I'm thrilled with both the Newbery and Caldecott selections this year (Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! was my pick for the Newbery, and any other award people want to throw at it. It's that wonderful). My copy of Hugo Cabret arrives on Wednesday. Can't wait!

  3. Cary's Girl: How terrific that you just checked Hugo out yesterday... you beat the rush! Definitely let me know what you think of it.

    The Newbery winner was a bit of a dark horse, but I've heard such wonderful things about it. I just bought a copy today.

    Anamaria- I thrilled too! I'm in the middle of reading Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! this evening and I love it so far.

  4. Isn't it cool? I love how the envelope is being pushed bit by bit every year. American Born Chinese hitting the award circuit last year, and Hugo Cabret with the Caldecott?! yay. (Although I would like to see some love for the Incredible Book Eating Boy!)

  5. Even though I've not yet read Hugo Cabret yet, I am quite pleased with the Caldecott committee breaking from tradition. To tell you the truth, I got fed up with the Caldecotts long before the Newbery awards. I still care, of course, but I no longer read every book in sight with the hopes of reading the award books before they're announced.

    Good Masters... Sweet Ladies just arrived for me at my library today. Score!

  6. Stacy- I love how the envelope is being pushed every year, too. I think Hugo Cabret was a landmark choice... not just because I love the book, but because it establishes a new standard.

    Alkelda- I'm quite pleased with the break from tradition too. And I think Hugo has lots of kid appeal (which I know will make you happy!)

    I'd love to see your opinion about Good Masters, Sweet Ladies when you finish. It's a quick read... I'm devouring it tonight.

  7. I would take your poll, but my choice isn't on it (I think because you only listed the top winners, not the Honors, which is understandable given how many awards there are). I was most excited about The Wednesday Wars. Second most excited about Hugo Cabret, third most excited about Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!

  8. Genevieve- You;re absolutely right... I should have included the honor books in my poll. I started to, but then it started to get pretty unmanageable. Thanks for writing in your votes!