Christopher Curtis, Simms Taback win awards
January 17, 2000
(CNN) -- Christopher Paul Curtis, a runner-up for the Newbery Medal in 1996 for his book "The Watsons Go to Birmingham -- 1963," is the winner of the 2000 Newbery Medal for "Bud, Not Buddy," the story of a 10-year-old orphan living in Depression-era Michigan.
The award, given to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children, was announced Monday morning at the mid-winter meetings of the American Library Association in San Antonio, Texas.
The 2000 Caldecott Medal winner, awarded to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children, went to Simms Taback for "Joseph Had a Little Overcoat."
Three other books cited as worthy of attention were named Newbery Honor Books. They are "Getting Near to Baby," by Audrey Couloumbis; "26 Fairmount Avenue," by Tomie dePaola; and "Our Only May Amelia," by Jennifer L. Holm.
Honor books for the Caldecott Award were "Sector 7," by David Weisner; "The Ugly Duckling," adapted from Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale by Jerry Pinkney; "When Sophie Gets Angry -- Really, Really Angry," by Molly Bang; and "A Child's Calendar," illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman with text by John Updike.
Referring to "Bud, Not Buddy," Carolyn S. Brodie, chair of the Newbery Award Selection Committee, said "this heartfelt novel resonates with both zest and tenderness as it entertains questions about racism, belonging, love, and hope. Bud's fast-paced first-person account moves with the rhythms of jazz and celebrates life, family, and a child's indomitable spirit."
Speaking of "Joseph Had a Little Overcoat," Barbara Z. Kiefer, chair of the Caldecott Award Selection Committee, said "vibrant rich colors, playful details, and skillfully-placed die cuts contribute to the book's raucous merriment that takes this Yiddish folk song far beyond the simple words. The patchwork layout of the pages, the two-dimensional paintings and the exaggerated perspectives, reminiscent of the folk art tradition, are the very fabric that turn this overcoat into a story."
Curtis, whose 1996 "The Watsons" has passed its 20th printing in hardcover, also won the 2000 Coretta Scott King Author Award for excellence by black authors for "Bud, Not Buddy."
In an interview with CNN Interactive last year, Curtis said his character Bud "has the idea on the shakiest of evidence that there is a man on the other side of the state who's his father." The book "tells about his journey to find this man, and find out who he is, try to find his place in the world."
"It seems I'm kind of a depressing person," Curtis said. "Life's been rough. No really, I don't pick the stories that come to me. I'm not clever enough to decide where the story is going to go. The voice of the narrator comes to me and then the setting comes and then the time."
Curtis says the "Bud" voice came to him while he was at work on another book based in the 1930s. He attended a family reunion and someone brought up the topic of his grandfather and how he was a big band leader with his own band -- "Herman Curtis and the Dusky Devastators of the Depression."
The character of Bud blossomed with the idea that Bud's father -- whom he has never met -- might be the leader of a big band. The book took a year to write and went through another year and a half of editing, Curtis says.
A new award from the ALA, the Michael L. Printz Award, was given to "Monster" by Walter Dean Myers, illustrations by Christopher Myers. the award is given for a book that exemplifies literary excellence in young adult literature.
Author follows Newbery Honor with new novel for young readers
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