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Contact: Larra Clark/Macey Morales
For Immediate Release
January 12, 2004

American Library Association announces award winners

SAN DIEGO -- Kate DiCamillo, author of "The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread," and Mordicai Gerstein, illustrator and author of "The Man Who Walked Between the Towers," are the 2004 winners of the John Newbery and Randolph Caldecott medals, the most prestigious awards in children's literature. They were among the award winners announced today by the American Library Association (ALA) during its Midwinter Meeting in San Diego. Considered the "Academy Awards" of children's book publishing, the 2004 Newbery and Caldecott medals honor outstanding writing and illustration of works published in the United States during the previous year.

"The Tale of Despereaux," illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering and published by Candlewick Press, draws the reader into an enchanting account of a smaller-than-usual mouse in love with music, stories and a princess named Pea. This tiny hero faints at loud noises but gathers the courage to fulfill his dreams. With character and plot far more complex than the traditional fairy tale, separate stories introduce Despereaux, condemned for talking to the princess; the evil rat, Roscuro, who loves light and soup; and Miggery Sow, a farm girl with royal aspirations. The lyrical language of this distinctive tale is as savory as the palace soup.

"DiCamillo masterfully weaves drama, mystery and intrigue with high humor and fun into a cohesive, captivating and distinguished tale," said Newbery Award Chair Eliza T. Dresang. "Time-honored themes of good versus evil, light versus dark, unrequited love, loyalty and search for identity have roots in many mythic and literary classics familiar to children. This story is sure to entice, challenge and delight readers of all ages."

The 2004 Caldecott Medal for illustration is awarded to Mordicai Gerstein for "The Man Who Walked Between the Towers," published by Roaring Brook Press, a division of the Millbrook Press. This true story recounts the daring feat of a spirited young Frenchman who walked a tightrope between the World Trade Center twin towers in 1974. His joy in dancing on a thin wire high above Manhattan and the awe of the spectators in the streets far below is captured in exquisite ink and oil paintings that perfectly complement the spare, lyrical text.

"Gerstein's skillful compositions and dramatic use of perspective make this a book that literally takes your breath away," said Caldecott Award Chair Kathy East. "Two ingenious gatefolds and horizontal and vertical framing put the reader high in the air with this daredevil performer and emphasize the vast space between the towers and their astounding height. Gerstein ensures that this extraordinary event is imprinted on readers' minds and creates a powerful, transforming memory."

Two Newbery Honor Books were named: "Olive's Ocean," by Kevin Henkes, published by Greenwillow Books; and "An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793," by Jim Murphy and published by Clarion Books.

Three Caldecott Honor Books were named: "Ella Sarah Gets Dressed," illustrated and written by Margaret Chodos-Irvine and published by Harcourt, Inc.; "What Do You Do With a Tail Like This?" illustrated and written by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page and published by Houghton Mifflin Company; and "Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus," illustrated and written by Mo Willems and published by Hyperion.

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

Coretta Scott King Awards
Angela Johnson, author of "The First Part Last," and Ashley Bryan, illustrator and author of "Beautiful Blackbird," are the winners of the 2004 Coretta Scott King Awards honoring African American authors and illustrators of outstanding books for children and young adults. Hope Anita Smith, author of "The Way a Door Closes," is the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Author Award winner; and Elbrite Brown, illustrator of "My Family Plays Music," is the Steptoe New Talent Illustrator Award winner.

"The First Part Last," published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, takes place in urban New York City and tells the story of Bobby, a 16-year-old artist and single parent raising his daughter alone. In short alternating chapters between "now" and "then," Bobby struggles to balance the rigors of fatherhood in the absence of Nia, Feather's mother. "Bobby, first introduced in 'Heaven' - another Coretta Scott King Award winner (1999) - tells in a gripping first-person narrative the not-so-rosy realities of teen parenthood," said Award Committee Chair Chrystal Carr Jeter. "Johnson's powerful portrayal of a sensitive and nurturing young man is about a rare, yet realistic, teen dilemma."

In "Beautiful Blackbird," published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, Bryan has adapted a folktale from the Ila-speaking people of Zambia. His rhythmic and often-repeated "black is beautiful, uh-huh" message of self-acceptance and tolerance emphasizes that beauty comes from within.

"Bryan's vividly colored, silhouetted birds using simply cut paper collage combines with the rhythm of the lively text to offer a satisfying read aloud," Jeter said. "'Beautiful Blackbird' incorporates all the colors of the rainbow, adding to the message that there is room for all of us to fly together."

Occasionally awarded, the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award affirms new talent and offers visibility to excellence in writing and /or illustration at the beginning of a career as a published children's book creator. "The Way A Door Closes," by Hope Anita Smith and illustrated by Shane W. Evans, is a collection of 34 gentle poems that slowly unfolds the details of 13-year-old, C.J.'s life. The book is published by Henry Holt and Company. "My Family Plays Music," illustrated by Elbrite Brown and written by Judy Cox is a lively, colorful introduction to 10 varieties of music by a young African American girl and her contemporary family. The book is published by Holiday House.

Three King Author Honor Books were selected: "Days of Jubilee: The End of Slavery in the United States" by Patricia C. and Fredrick L. McKissack, published by Scholastic Press; "Locomotion" by Jacqueline Woodson, published by G.P. Putnam's Sons/Penguin Young Readers Group; and "The Battle of Jericho" by Sharon M. Draper, published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers.

Two King Illustrator Honor Books were selected: "Almost to Freedom" illustrated by Colin Bootman, written by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson and published by Carolrhoda Books, a division of Lerner Publishing Group; and "Thunder Rose," illustrated by Kadir Nelson, written by Jerdine Nolen and published by Silver Whistle, an imprint of Harcourt, Inc.

The Coretta Scott King Award is presented annually by the Coretta Scott King Task Force of the ALA's Social Responsibilities Round Table.

Michael L. Printz Award
Angela Johnson has won the 2004 Michael L. Printz Award for her moving novel, "The First Part Last." Published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, Johnson's novel is an extraordinary work in which the realities of fatherhood come slowly but surely to 16-year-old Bobby after the birth of his daughter Feather. Told in alternating chapters, Johnson's story reveals the love Bobby and his girlfriend Nia shared then, as well as the growing affection Bobby feels now for his daughter.

"Bobby's voice comes strong and poignant, pulling readers into his heartache, confusion and insecurity," said Award Chair Pam Spencer Holley. "Angela Johnson's work never verges on sentimentality and brings readers close to the true meaning of parenthood."

Four Printz Honor Books were named: "A Northern Light" by Jennifer Donnelly, published by Harcourt, Inc; "Keesha's House" by Helen Frost, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux/Frances Foster Books; "Fat Kid Rules the World" by K.L. Going, published by G.P. Putnam's Sons/Penguin Young Readers Group; and "The Earth, My Butt and Other Big Round Things" by Carolyn Mackler, published by Candlewick Press.

The annual award for excellence in young adult literature is administered by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), a division of ALA, and sponsored by Booklist magazine.

Robert F. Sibert Award
Jim Murphy, author of "An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793," was named the winner of the 2004 Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award for most distinguished informational book for children published in 2003.

In the book, published by Clarion Books, a Houghton Mifflin Company imprint, Murphy draws material from primary sources, such as private diaries, newspapers and books, to give insight into the political, social and cultural challenges of the yellow fever epidemic. The compelling narrative pulls readers into the crisis, illuminates the community's responses and shows the best and worst of humanity.

"A consummate craftsman, Murphy vividly recreates the fear and panic that swept through Philadelphia in 1793," said Award Chair Cathryn M. Mercier. "Carefully designed and documented, this book models the best in informational books for young people." One Sibert Honor Book was named: "I Face the Wind," written by Vicki Cobb, illustrated by Julia Gorton and published by HarperCollins.

The annual award is administered by ALSC and is sponsored by Bound to Stay Bound Books, Inc., of Jacksonville, Ill., in honor of Robert F. Sibert, its longtime president.

Margaret A. Edwards Award
Ursula K. LeGuin is the recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award honoring her lifetime contribution to young adult readers.

LeGuin's works continue to find young adult enthusiasts for the Earthsea fantasy series (published from 1968 to 1990), "The Left Hand of Darkness," published by the Berkley Publishing Group (a Division of Penguin Group USA Inc.) in 1969, and "The Beginning Place," published by Tor in 1980.

"In her writing, as in her life, Ms. LeGuin takes on issues arising from the effort to live humanely in the natural world, exploring the tension between individuality and social norms," said Award Chair Francisca Goldsmith. "A fantasy writer and social activist since her youth, she has inspired four generations of young adults to read beautifully constructed language, visit fantasy worlds that inform them about their own lives, and think about ideas that are neither easy nor inconsequential."

The award is administered by YALSA and sponsored by School Library Journal.

Andrew Carnegie Medal
Paul R. Gagne and Melissa Reilly of Weston Woods Studios, producers of "Giggle, Giggle, Quack," based on the picture book by Doreen Cronin and illustrated by Betsy Lewin, are the 2004 recipients of the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Children's Video. The video is narrated by Randy Travis with music by Scotty Huff.

When Farmer Brown leaves home for a vacation in the tropics, he warns his brother Bob to "watch out for Duck - he's trouble." But the mischievously opportunistic duck can't resist taking full advantage of the situation - securing pizza, bubble baths and movie night for all his barnyard friends.

"This engaging animated adaptation of Cronin and Lewin's whimsical picture book features flawless narration, subtle but highly evocative background music, quirky sound effects and characters that burst with personality," said Award Chair Pamela Petrick Barron. "The creators extended the work, while remaining 100% faithful to the original, and provided an ending that adds a little something extra."

The Carnegie Medal, established with the support of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, honors an outstanding American video production for children released during the previous year. It is administered by ALSC.

Pura Belpré Award
Yuyi Morales, illustrator and author of "Just a Minute: A Trickster Tale and Counting Book," published by Chronicle Books; and Julia Alvarez, author of "Before We Were Free," published by Alfred A. Knopf, are, respectively, the 2004 winners of the Pura Belpré Illustrator Award and Author Awards, which honor Latino authors and illustrators whose work best portrays, affirms and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in a children's book.

"Morales' energetic and playful illustrations capture the essence of Mexican culture with bold and humorous motifs that illuminate Grandma Beetle's vitality and Señor Calavera's expressiveness," said Award Committee Chair Rose Treviño.

"Before We Were Free" is an engrossing account of 12-year-old Anita's life amidst the fear that consumes her family. This powerfully written story reflects the uncertainty and danger that pervaded the air during a troubled time in the Dominican Republic's history," Treviño said. Exquisitely written testimonial, sometimes in diary form, immerses readers in the details of life under dictator General Trujillo in the Dominican Republic during the political upheavals of the early 1960s. It is an engaging story of one girl's coming of age set against a backdrop of fear and secrets. Powerful and at times intense, this book will take readers on a frightening journey of fear and anguish that will cause them to pray for the rescue of Anita and her family. The committee selected three Honor Books for Illustration: "First Day in Grapes," illustrated by Robert Casilla, written by L. King Pérez and published by Lee & Low Books Inc.; "The Pot That Juan Built," illustrated by David Diaz, written by Nancy Andrews-Goebel and published by Lee & Low Books Inc.; and "Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez," illustrated by Yuyi Morales, written by Kathleen Krull and published by Harcourt, Inc.

Two Author Award Honor Books were named: "Cuba 15" written by Nancy Osa and published by Delacorte Press; and "My Diary from Here to There/ Mi diario de aquí hasta allá" by Amada Irma Pérez, illustrated by Maya Christina Gonzalez and published by Children's Book Press/Editorial Libros Para Niños.

The Belpré awards are administered by ALSC and REFORMA, the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking.

Mildred L. Batchelder Award
Walter Lorraine Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Company, was named the winner of the 2004 Mildred L. Batchelder Award for the most outstanding children's book originally published in a foreign language and subsequently translated into English for publication in the United States for "Run, Boy, Run."

Originally published in Hebrew in 2001 as "Ruts, yeled, ruts," the book was written by Uri Orlev and translated to English by Hillel Halkin. The book is the extraordinary account of one boy's survival of the Holocaust. At the age of eight, Srulik is left alone in the Warsaw Ghetto, and must fend for himself, even forgetting his name, in order to survive the Holocaust.

"Orlev's spare, unflinching narrative compels the reader to share Srulik's harrowing real-life experiences as he flees the Nazis in search for safety," said Award Chair Kay Weisman. The Batchelder committee selected one Honor Book, published by Chronicle Books. "The Man Who Went to the Far Side of the Moon: The Story of Apollo 11 Astronaut Michael Collins," by Bea Uusma Schyffert, was translated to English by Emi Guner. The book was originally published in Swedish in 1999, as "Astronauten som inte fick landa."

The Batchelder Award is administered by ALSC.

May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Award
Richard Jackson, editor of books for children and young adults, will deliver the 2005 May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture. Each year, an individual of distinction in the field of children's literature is chosen to write and deliver a lecture that will make a significant contribution to the world of children's literature.

Through his editing, Jackson has brought young readers the fine words of award-winner writers such as Frances Temple, Paula Fox, Gary Paulsen, Virginia Hamilton, Angela Johnson and Nancy Farmer. A publishing powerhouse, he founded Bradbury Press in 1968, Orchard in 1986 and DK, Inc., in 1996. Jackson now works as editorial director of Richard Jackson Books, an imprint at Simon & Schuster's Atheneum division. In more than four decades as an editor, he has sought out and nurtured new talent.

"With the 1970 publication of Judy Blume's "Are You There God? It's Me Margaret," Jackson daringly made it acceptable to publish previously taboo topics," said Arbuthnot Committee Chair Pat Scales. "Readers responded, and the market was changed forever."

The award is administered by ALSC.

Recognized worldwide for the high quality they represent, ALA awards guide parents, educators, librarians and others in selecting the best materials for youth. Selected by judging committees of librarians and other children's experts, the awards encourage original and creative work. For more information on the ALA youth media awards and notables, visit the ALA Web site at: