Kadohata, Henkes win Newbery, Caldecott Medals

Contacts: Larra Clark/Macey Morales

ALA Media Relations

For Immediate Release

January 17, 2005

Kadohata, Henkes win Newbery, Caldecott Medals

BOSTON - Cynthia Kadohata, author of “Kira-Kira,” and Kevin Henkes, illustrator and author of “Kitten’s First Full Moon,” are the 2005 winners of the John Newbery and Randolph Caldecott medals, the most prestigious awards in children’s literature.

Kadohata and Henkes were among the award winners announced January 17 by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), during the ALA Midwinter Meeting in Boston, January 14-19. Considered the “Academy Awards” of children’s book publishing, the 2005 Newbery and Caldecott medals honor outstanding writing and illustration of works published in the United States during the previous year.

Two sisters lie on their backs, watching the stars and repeating the Japanese word for “glittering” – “kira-kira.” Like this quiet opening scene, Kadohata’s tenderly nuanced novel glitters with plain and poignant words that describe the strong love within a Japanese American family from the point of view of younger sister Katie. Personal challenges and family tragedy are set against the oppressive social climate of the South during the 1950s and early 1960s.

Graceful prose illuminates complex relationships, most notably between the two sisters. Katie’s remarkably authentic voice changes to reflect both her deeper understandings and her growing sense of self over a span of almost 10 years. “Kira-Kira” is published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.

“With compelling quietude that makes room for both pathos and humor, this luminous novel takes us on Katie Takeshima’s journey through a childhood punctuated by prejudice, poverty and family tragedy,” said Award Committee Chair Susan Faust. “Young readers will be drawn into a narrative that radiates hope from the inside out.”

The 2005 Caldecott Medal for illustration is awarded to Kevin Henkes for “Kitten’s First Full Moon,” published by Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Henkes employs boldly outlined organic shapes and shades of black, white and gray with rose undertones on creamy paper to tell a simple story of a kitten who mistakes the moon for a bowl of milk. The moon, the flowers, the fireflies’ lights and the kitten’s eyes create a comforting circle motif. The gouache and colored pencil illustrations project a varied page design that rhythmically paces the spare text.

“Thoughtful design, from the front jacket with reflective silver letters to the final image, sustains a completely satisfying read-aloud experience,” said Caldecott Award Chair Betsy Hearne. “Kitten's frustration and eventual triumph—emotions familiar to young children—find artistic expression in a meticulously crafted book with classic appeal.”

Kevin Henkes was awarded the Caldecott Honor for “Owen” in 1994 and the Newbery Honor for “Olive’s Ocean” in 2004.

Three Newbery Honor Books were named: “Al Capone Does My Shirts” by Gennifer Choldenko and published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group; “The Voice That Challenged a Nation: Marian Anderson and the Struggle for Equal Rights” by Russell Freedman and published by Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin; and “Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy” by Gary D. Schmidt, published by Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin.

Alcatraz is the evocative backdrop for “Al Capone Does My Shirts” – a highly original novel set in 1935. Twelve-year-old Moose Flanagan tells about his travails on “the Rock,” where his father has taken a job. Hilarious antics are deftly interwoven with themes of isolation and imprisonment, compassion and connection.

“The Voice That Challenged a Nation” meticulously explores resonant themes with the masterful structure of a musical composition. Eloquent, economic prose sheds a personal light on one woman’s sometimes reluctant role as a symbol in the struggle against racism and her calling to share an illustrious gift.

Set in Maine in 1912 and propelled by a tragic historical event, Schmidt’s powerfully haunting novel probes a forbidden friendship between a preacher’s son and a dark-skinned girl from a nearby island. Steeped in imagery and laced with surprising humor, “Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy” explores powerlessness, possibility and the profound impact individuals can make.

Three Caldecott Honor Books were named: “The Red Book,” written and illustrated by Barbara Lehman and published by Houghton Mifflin Company; “Coming on Home Soon,” illustrated by E.B. Lewis, written by Jacqueline Woodson and published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group; “Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale,” illustrated and written by Mo Willems and published by Hyperion Books for Children.

With a simplicity that belies their depth, Lehman’s nuanced watercolor illustrations in “The Red Book” transport a city girl, an island boy and the viewer beyond their familiar worlds. This wordless picture book offers an enticing visual journey with surprising twists and reveals the mysterious power of books.

Evocative watercolor paintings in “Coming on Home Soon” illuminate a story of cross-generational love and convey the longing of a child anticipating her mother’s return. Lewis’ portraiture and attention to light sources, from cold winter hues to warm interior tones, reflect the loneliness of the child and the comforting strength of her grandmother.

In “Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale,” an ordinary trip to the laundromat with Dad becomes a hilarious epic drama of miscommunication when Trixie realizes that her beloved stuffed animal is left behind. This energetic comedy, illustrated with an unconventional combination of sepia-tone photographs and wry cartoon ink sketches, charms both parents and children.

Members of the 2005 Newbery Award Committee are: Chair Susan Faust, Katherine Delmar Burke School, San Francisco; Thom Barthelmess, Spokane County Library District, Spokane, Wash., Cindy Boatfield, L.E.R. Schimelpfenig Public Library, Plano, Texas; Marsha D. Broadway, Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah; Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Library, N.Y.; Ruth Anne Champion, Enoch Pratt Free Library, Baltimore; Rosemary Chance, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas, and University of Texas at Tyler; Julie Cohen, Berkshire Country Day School, Lenox, Mass.; Randall Enos, Ramapo Catskill Library System, Middletown, N.Y.; Jill L. Locke, Greensboro, N.C.; Sue McGown, St. John's School, Houston; Heather McNeil, Deschutes Public Library System, Bend, Ore.; Megan Schliesman, Cooperative Children's Book Center, Madison, Wis.; Rita Pino Vargas, To'Hajiilee Community School Library, N.M.; and Mary R. Voors, Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne, Ind.

Members of the 2005 Caldecott Award Committee are: Chair Betsy Hearne, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Emily Beeck, Los Angeles Public Library; Margaret Chang, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, North Adams, Mass.; Maralita (Micki) Freeny, Prince George’s County Memorial Library System, Hyattsville, Md.; Lolly H. Gepson, Northbrook (Ill.) Public Library; Anne Heidemann, Chippewa River District Library System, Mount Pleasant, Mich.; Marie C. Orlando, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, N.Y.; Marilyn Payne Phillips, University City (Mo.) Public Library; Lolly Robinson, The Horn Book, Boston; Marion Hanes Rutsch, children’s literature consultant, Chevy Chase, Md.; Rita J. Smith, Smathers Libraries, University of Florida, Gainesville; Margie Stern, Delaware County Library System, Media, Pa.; Anne Tisch, Cleveland Heights-University Heights (Ohio) Public Library; Amanda Williams, Central Texas Library System, Austin; Judy Zuckerman, Brooklyn Public Library, N.Y.