John Newbery Medal
Dead End in Norvelt
School is out and Jack Gantos is planning to have an adventurous summer. It takes him about two days into his summer vacation to get grounded by his mother for the entire summer. Locked in his room, he escapes by reading books. Norvelt is a small town and as luck would have it his elderly neighbor, Ms. Volker, needs his help and is his only escape. Ms. Volker has some strange habits and an even stranger occupation, but Jack likes assisting her and when he does he gets to see his best friend Bunny. Bunny is Norvelt’s mortician daughter, and funeral parlor owner, and Ms. Volker is the medical examiner, so Jack finds himself in the company of the newly dead. It doesn’t bother his friend Bunny at all, but it tends to make Jake’s noise bleed, like almost anything else. His nose bleeding, getting grounded for the summer, his weird best friend, Ms. Volker, his creatively feuding parents, and the soon-to-be, and newly dead provide Jack with a summer with more adventure and fun than he planned for. This is another funny, mysterious and entertaining novel by author Jack Gantos, which will have readers laughing all the way through. 2011, Farrar Straus Giroux/Macmillan, Ages 8 to 14, $15.99. Reviewer: Laura J. Brown (Children's Literature).
Randolph Caldecott Medal
A Ball for Daisy
Daisy, a frisky dog, plays happily with her big red ball, as full-page illustrations and action vignettes start this wordless tale of the discovery of a friend. Daisy is taken to the park to play with her ball, only to have a brown dog snatch it away and break it. Daisy’s distress at the deflated ball is apparent. Taken home by her young mistress, she is inconsolable. At the park next day, however, they meet the brown dog, his mistress, and her big blue ball. The dogs play happily together until their mistresses’ wave goodbye. Daisy is pleased to get to take the blue ball home. Raschka’s typical ink, watercolor, and gouache almost slap-dash images generate happy emotion as they create just enough background and characters to add conviction to the adventure of this most appealing pup. No words are required to express either her joy in playing with her ball or her depression when it is broken. The double page with eight sequential vignettes depicting her loss is particularly effective, as is the final picture of contentment with the new ball. 2011, Schwartz & Wade Books/Random House Children’s Books, Ages 3 to 7, $16.99. Reviewers: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz (Children's Literature).