Winners of the 2013 ALA Youth Media Awards

It was an exciting time earlier this morning in the US when the winners of the 2013 ALA Youth Media Awards were announced.  The Youth Media Awards include the prestigious Newbery Medal and Caldecott Medal and the Printz Award.

Congratulations to all the winners!  I think it’s the first time that I’ve read and loved the winners of the Newbery and Caldecott Medal so I’m very pleased that they won.  Here are the winners and honour books:

John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature:

There were three Newbery Honour Books announced too:

Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children:

This Is Not My Hat
There were five Caldecott Honour Books announced too:
Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults:
There were four Printz Honour Books announced too:
For more information about the awards and the winners of the other book awards check out this article

This is Not My Hat Blog Tour – Interview with Jon Klassen

Jon Klassen is an incredibly talented author and illustrator from the US.  He writes and illustrates his own books, as well as illustrating others’ books.  The first book he wrote and illustrated, I Want My Hat Back, has won many awards, including a Theodor Seuss Geisel Honour Award.  His latest book, This is Not My Hat, is one of my favourite picture books of the year (you can read my review here).  Today I’m joined by Jon Klassen on his This is Not My Hat Blog Tour.  I asked Jon about his illustrations, his obsession with hats, and humour in his books.

How do you create your illustrations?

For I Want My Hat Back and This Is Not My Hat, I made the shapes of the plants and animals with black chinese ink and cut them out and scanned them into the computer and added color and detail to them afterwards. It’s a nice process because it lets you be loose and try a lot of things out and then choose your favorites and put them together in one illustration later.

Your illustrations have a very limited colour palette. Why do you choose these colours?

I don’t think I choose a limited palette on purpose, it’s just what I like, but for these stories it is useful because there are things that can get emphasized by strong color when it’s needed. Also I just like things to feel a little calm. I think you can get interesting stories that still feel like the colors aren’t firing on all cylinders all the time.

Both of your own stories (I Want My Hat Back and This Is Not My Hat) have focused on hats. What is your fascination with hats?

I try not to tie too much of myself into the books, but I do wear a hat a lot of the time. But I think, for these stories, hats are great because they are kind of unnecessary. The stories are about characters that want the hats badly, but not for any practical reason, so it becomes really emotional. Also, for younger readers, they are an easy thing to spot and a fun thing to see on a character who wants to put it on.

Your books feature subtle humour that children and adults love. How important is humour in picture books?

Thank you! I don’t think humor is totally necessary, but I think it’s hard to find a good picture book without it because the format sets up jokes so nicely with turning the page. It’s a great way to time a joke. Plus it’s hard to keep younger kids’ attention without either making them laugh or scaring them. I also think it’s a good sign when a story makes you laugh because it means other things are working well too, most of the time.

As well as an author and illustrator of picture books, what other hats do you wear?

I work on animated projects sometimes, though mostly as a concept or background illustrator, and sometimes I do editorial illustrations for newspapers and things. Last year I taught a class at Calarts, but those kids are too good.

Do you prefer writing and illustrating your own books or illustrating others’ books?

I like both. I think if you get an idea you like on your own, doing it all yourself is more exciting because you can really fine tune both sides of it, but I always really enjoy seeing the stuff that comes out of illustrating other people’s stories. Getting an assignment is always a different sort of challenge than just coming up with whatever you want, and you can dive into the illustrating right away.

Are you more of a big fish or a small fish?

It depends on the day, I guess, but if I’m honest, there are probably more small fish days than big fish days.

Thanks for joining me Jon!  Make sure you join Elizabeth O. Dulemba on her blog tomorrow for the next stop on Jon’s blog tour.


Picture Book Nook: This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen

When a tiny fish shoots into view wearing a round blue topper (which happens to fit him perfectly), trouble could be following close behind. So it’s a good thing that enormous fish won’t wake up. And even if he does, it’s not like he’ll ever know what happened…

This Is Not My Hat is a perfect picture book. The story is quirky and captures children’s attention, the illustrations are wonderful and the ending is unexpected.  The thing that really makes this picture book stand out for me is that the illustrations tell a slightly different story to the text.  Tiny fish tells us that Big Fish probably won’t wake up for a long time and that he probably won’t notice that his hat is gone, but the illustrations tell us that this is not the case.  The humour of the story comes from these mismatched illustrations and text.  This just goes to show you what an incredibly talented story teller Jon is and the wonderful things that can be achieved in the 32 pages of a picture book.

Jon’s illustrations are quite basic, but he has managed to convey so much humour and emotion on each page.  I love the way that Big Fish’s expression changes when he realises something isn’t quite right and he figures out pretty quickly what has happened.  Jon uses a very limited colour palette in his illustrations (mostly brown, green, blue, grey and black) and these set the tone of the story.  It’s not all bright and colourful so you know straight away that it’s not going to be a bright and happy story.  I like the way that the story moves with the fish (swimming away towards the right) and the way that Jon shows this movement through the bubbles that follow each of the fish.

My absolute favourite thing about This is Not My Hat is the surprise ending that shocks you and also makes you laugh.  After reading I Want My Hat Back I kind of expected a shocking ending but it still made me laugh, and I’m sure children will too.  If you want a picture book that you will enjoy even more than the children you’re reading it to, get a copy of This is Not My Hat from your library or bookshop now.

5 out of 5 stars

Join me tomorrow when I host Jon Klassen on his This is Not My Hat blog tour.  I’ll be asking Jon about being an author/illustrator, how he creates his illustrations, and what he does when he’s not working on books.

Celebrate Jon Klassen’s new picture book This is Not My Hat

This week I’m celebrating the release of Jon Klassen’s new picture book, This is Not My Hat.  Jon is an incredibly talented author and illustrator and his books are fantastic!  The last book he both wrote and illustrated, I Want My Hat Back, has won numerous awards, including a Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Award.

Tomorrow I’ll be reviewing This is Not My Hat and on Wednesday I have an interview with Jon Klassen as part of his This is Not My Hat blog tour.  Check out the book trailer: