Children's books come up winners

January 19, 2000|By Fritz Lanham | Fritz Lanham,HOUSTON CHRONICLE

Three familiar names have swept the most prestigious awards for children's literature.

Christopher Paul Curtis won the John Newbery Medal for "Bud, Not Buddy." His first novel, "The Watsons Go to Birmingham -- 1963," had been named a Newbery Honor Book for 1995.

Simms Taback, also a previous Honor Book winner, received the Randolph Caldecott Medal, given for best picture book, for "Joseph Had a Little Overcoat."

And Walter Dean Myers, among the best-known and most-feted authors of books for older children, won the first Michael L. Printz Award for his novel "Monster" (HarperCollins), which tells the story a 16-year-old black implicated in a store holdup in which the proprietor was shot.

The Printz honors excellence in young-adult literature.

The awards, given annually by the American Library Association, were announced Monday at the group's midwinter meeting in San Antonio, Texas. The Newbery and Caldecott Medals honor outstanding writing and illustration in works published in the United States during the previous year.

"Bud, Not Buddy," published by Delacorte, is set in the Depression era and tells the story of a 10-year-old boy who embarks on a quest to find the father he never met, apparently a jazz band leader.

Besides the Newbery, Curtis won this year's Coretta Scott King Author Award, recognizing excellence by black writers. Honored with a King award for illustration was Brian Pinkney for "In the Time of the Drums" (Hyperion).

Three Newbery Honor Books were named: "Getting Near to Baby," by Audrey Couloumbis (Putnam); "26 Fairmount Avenue," written and illustrated by Tomie dePaola (Putnam) and "Our Only May Amelia," by Jennifer L. Holm (HarperCollins).

Taback's "Joseph Had a Little Overcoat" (Viking), is based on a Yiddish folk tale about a resourceful tailor who transforms his worn overcoat into smaller and smaller garments.

Taback has illustrated many children's books, including "I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly" (Honor Book for 1997), "Spacey Riddles," "When I First Came to This Land" and "Where Is My Baby?"

Caldecott Honor Books are: "Sector 7," illustrated and written by David Weisner (Clarion Books); "The Ugly Duckling," adapted and illustrated by Jerry Pinkney based on a fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen (Morrow); "When Sophie Gets Angry -- Really, Really Angry," illustrated and written by Molly Bang (Scholastic); and "A Child's Calendar," illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman, written by John Updike (Holiday House).

Printz Honor Books are "Hard Love," by Ellen Wittlinger (Simon & Schuster); "Skellig," by David Almond (Delacorte); and "Speak," by Laurie Halse Anderson (Farrar, Straus & Giroux).

The Pura Belpre Award, honoring Latino writers and illustrators whose work best portrays and celebrates Latino experience, went to illustrator Carmen Lomas Garza for "Magic Windows: Cut-Paper Art and Stories" (Children's Book Press) and author Alma Flor Ada for "Under the Royal Palms: A Childhood in Cuba" (Atheneum).

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