Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Speaking of culture, awards, and poetry...

When the big ALA book awards are announced, I like to check them for the inclusion of poetry. Last year, there was a jackpot of poetry. This year—not so much. However, there were some notable standouts. First, the Coretta Scott King award choices were especially exciting this year. Did you notice that nearly all these books were POETRY? I was so tickled about that!

Coretta Scott King Author HONORS (outstanding writing by an African
American author) went to THREE books of poetry:
*Keeping the Night Watch by Hope Anita Smith. Illustrated by E.B. Lewis. Henry Holt, 2008.
*The Blacker the Berry by Joyce Carol Thomas. Illustrated by Floyd Cooper. Amistad/HarperCollins, 2008.
*Becoming Billie Holiday by Carole Boston Weatherford. Illustrated by Floyd Cooper. Wordsong, 2008.

THE Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award (outstanding illustrations by an African American artist) went to:
*The Blacker the Berry illustrated by Floyd Cooper. Written by Joyce Carol Thomas. Amistad/HarperCollins, 2008.

And one CSK Illustrator Honor distinction went to a book by poet Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Sean Qualls, Before John Was a Jazz Giant: A Song of John Coltrane. Henry Holt, 2008.

The Coretta Scott King John Steptoe/New Talent Award went to:
*Shadra Strickland (illustrator) for Bird by Zetta Elliott. Lee & Low, 2008.

In addition, the Pura Belpré Author Award (cosponsored by REFORMA) (outstanding writing by a Latino author) went to The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba’s Struggle for Freedom by Margarita Engle. Henry Holt, 2008, which was also a NEWBERY HONOR BOOK! Did you catch that? Newbery!

ALL of these books (listed above) are also on the list of 2009 Notables selected by ALSC and/or the YALSA list of Best Books for Young Adults (BBYA).

The YALSA list of Quick Picks included these works of poetry:
*High, Linda Oatman. Planet Pregnancy. 2008. Boyds Mills Press.
*Hopkins, Ellen. Identical. 2008. McElderry.
*Neri, G. Chess Rumble. 2007. Lee and Low Books.

What do you notice about this? MULTICULTURAL POETRY is really getting some attention. In fact, some of the best of the best books of any genre, and of poetry in particular, are by poets of color! Very exciting!

Image credit: blogs.theage.com.au


laurasalas said...

Thank you so much for this roundup, Sylvia. While I've read many of these books, a number slipped under my radar, too. Off to put them on reserve!

Jennifer Lewis said...

Hi! I am looking for a poem for my 4.5 year old to read on International Day at her school. She can read at a 2nd grade level. She is 25% Thai, 25% African American, & 50% caucasian of European descent (Italian, swiss, irish). Wondering if anything special comes to your mind. We are American citizens.... learning about our roots. Her father was born in Thailand. She is going to wear a traditional Thai dress. I thought something multicultural would be perfect since we are made of so many pieces. Found your website and thought I'd ask. Thanks!

Sylvia Vardell said...

What a wonderful opportunity for your daughter! She might enjoy some of the poems from AMAZING FACES by Lee Bennett Hopkins or any of the "dream" poems from THE DREAMKEEPER by Langston Hughes (some available online). Janet Wong also has several lovely collections she might enjoy-- THE NIGHT GARDEN, TWIST, GOOD LUCK GOLD.

Best of luck!