On a national level, the week got off to a big start with the Children’s Choice Book Awards on Monday night. Jeff Kinney and Brian Selznick took home the top prizes for author and illustrator of the year. Here’s a PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY recap of the night’s events (and a complete list of winners).
My favorite book of the 2011, Gary D. Schmidt’s fantastic Okay for Now, won the prize in the fifth and sixth grade category. Below is a video of the award presentation and Gary’s awesome acceptance speech.
If you’re interested, you check out my review of Okay for Now here.
On Tuesday, we lost Maurice Sendak, a legend in the world of children’s literature. Author and illustrator of countless children’s classics (most notably, Where the Wild Things Are), Sendak is known for wild, imaginative, sometimes dark, and always original imagery and stories. He refused to pander and refused to make things pretty or nice or easy. His books were challenged as well as acclaimed. To me, he represents the best possible way to tell a story. He put to page, in just a few words and beautifully rendered images, stories that so deeply connect to the emotional and psychological landscape of childhood that they become larger than life and we remember them forever. Take Where the Wild Things Are, for example. Even if you haven't read it for years, you probably still remember many of the pictures and much of the story. Perhaps you've imagined other adventures for Max. I challenge you to revisit the book, especially if it's been a while. I think you'll be surprised to find there are only 9 or 10 sentences in the entire book. A story that has meant so much to so many is told in about ten sentences (and many amazing pictures)!
In a tribute Neil Gaiman says of Sendak, "He was unique, grumpy, brilliant, gay, wise, magical and made the world better by creating art in it." That just about says it all. We can be sad that he'll never write or illustrate again, but we should be glad he was here almost for 84 years. And it certainly was a fitting week to go to rest.
The Wild Things are and forever will be.