I came across this blog a few weeks ago. The Newbery Project is focused on reading ALL the Newbery Medal winners. They have over fifty participants (many are bloggers) and have been going strong for some time. And, happily, they have two very enthusiastic posts about this year’s winner: here and here.
I tend not to mention social events here because I worry about people feeling envious, left out, or suspicious that I’m being bought. But I must mention my Thursday lunch with Lois Lowry because in her blog post about it, she wrote, “… Two of them just back from serving on the Newbery Committee! and though of course they can’t describe their process of deliberation…at least I was able to tell them what a wonderful choice I thought they had made with this year’s winner. “
And now since I did mention the lunch, I might as well tell all. We were at the elegant Eleven Madison Park and the food was superb and beautiful. Lois is right that the beet salad was exquisite in presentation. I can’t comment on how it tasted as I had the excellent mushroom risotto followed by red snapper. (Boy, does this sound like a really bad restaurant review? That is another reason I don’t write about these events — I can’t do it well at all!)
More important was the conversation. A charming and smart woman, Lois told an extremely amusing story about her stint as a National Book Award judge and others related to The Willoughbys. How terrific that she ranges so far and wide as a writer, trying out new forms all the time. I have read part of the book and so far it reminds me of M. T. Anderson’s Thrilling Tales more than Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events to which it is already being compared. But even more so, she seems to be placing herself consciously, tongue-in-cheek, into an even older tradition of snarky children’s book writers — Roald Dahl, Lewis Carroll, and P. L. Travers come to mind. In fact Dahl and Travers are included in the book’s bibliography. Yes, there is one along with a witty glossary.
A pleasant coda to my Newbery week.
Laura Amy Schlitz, a school librarian in Baltimore and author of Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!: Voices from a Medieval Village, was wide awake when the Newbery call came. But not exactly because she had been expecting it. “I had woken up at 5 and had a stomachache,” she says, “and couldn’t go back to sleep. Finally it was 6:30, when I would have woken up anyway. I told myself, ‘OK, it’s time to be brave, the phone hasn’t rung, you have a good life, it’s time to get up and fix lunch.’ Then the phone rang.”Schlitz recalls being “thunderstruck” by the news. “I had been trying not to want one of the honors,” she says, “because I knew the chances were very slim. I don’t remember the call very well. It was some time before I remembered to stammer out ‘thank you.’ On the one hand I don’t remember the call but on the other hand I’ll remember it the rest of my life.”
Selznick and Schlitz Discuss Their Award-Winning Books – 1/17/2008 – Publishers Weekly
Here’s a lovely segment featuring Laura, her students, and the school from a local Baltimore news station: School Librarian Receives Literary Award.
My Committee was the BEST EVER (and I don’t care what anyone on any other committee says!). Here we are at the press conference. (I know others did much better taking photos and will post those too if they give me permission.)
That’s Cindy Lombardo (sitting) signing Bonnie Kunzel’s (standing) “Reserved for Newbery Committee” sheet. And beyond Cindy are Carol Edwards and Martha Parravano.
On the left are me, Nina Lindsay, Dean Schneider , and Victor Schill (sitting) with Maureen White and Luan Toth talking to them.
On the right are Kathy Isaacs, Michael Santangelo, Yolanda Bolden (sitting), and Barbara Jones-Clark (standing).
Tami Finley seem to be missing (although I think that is her arm next to Cindy), but I’ll get her in June for sure!
The monologues were a hit with the fifth-graders, and after some urging from parents and colleagues, Schlitz sent “Good Masters! Sweet Ladies” to 11 publishers in the summer of 2000. One wrote back to inform her, she recalls, that “we have shredded your manuscript.”
Children’s Book Award Winners Break The Mold – washingtonpost.com
Park School of Baltimore librarian Laura Amy Schlitz jokingly reacts to photographers taking her photograph after telling a story to a group of second grade students, Monday, Jan. 14, 2008, in Baltimore. Schlitz, who wrote, “Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!: Voices From a Medieval Village,” is this year’s winner of the John Newbery Medal for best children’s book. (AP Photo/Rob Carr)
During an all-school assembly called yesterday afternoon in Schlitz’s honor, the entire student body of nearly 900 students stood and cheered for at least 30 seconds. The applause went on and on.
Read the whole of this lovely article from Schlitz’s hometown paper here.
I knew about the Park School long before I knew about Laura Amy Schlitz because it is an old progressive private school like mine, a good friend worked there years ago, and another good friend’s wife graduated from there. So I loved thinking yesterday about how the school, especially all the children (not to mention the young adults) who had performed the monologues and dialogues in her book reacted to yesterday’s news. (She, by the way, was mostly speechless, sobbed, tried to speak — I mainly remember her saying “I have to make a speech?”— when we made THE CALL.) So how fun to run into several Candlewick folk while waiting for the train home who told me she was royally feted at the school.
After learning she had won, Schlitz still went to work at Baltimore’s Park School, where she has been a librarian for 17 years. “But I am wearing a plastic tiara,” Schlitz, 52, said Monday.
Set in an English village circa 1255, the book presents 22 character monologues that Schlitz originally wrote for her students, who study the Middle Ages in the fifth grade. She says it was a fascinating period because “there is something so once-upon-a-time with the beautiful tapestries and manuscripts. Yet life was so dangerous, so arduous and so grimy.”
As for winning, “this is kind of like having a flying carpet under your feet.” USATODAY.com