Thursday, February 23, 2012

Insights into the 2012 Caldecott Books

Librarian Booktalk with Deanna Romriell – Part 2
 Part 2 of my interview with Deanna Romriell, Caldecott Committee member (2012), Manager of the Salt Lake City Public Library's Children’s Department, former president and long-time member of the Children’s Literature Association of Utah (CLAU), and reviewer of audio books for School Library Journal.

You recently served on the 2012 Caldecott Committee. What can you tell us about your experience on the Caldecott committee?
Deanna: I could go on for hours about what a wonderful experience serving on the Caldecott Committee was.  I have had a long-time dream of serving on either the Caldecott or Newbery. So I have served on several Committees for ALSC hoping to one day have that opportunity.  This past year every day was one of discovery.  I loved coming home from work and seeing boxes of books stacked on our kitchen table.  I loved the anticipation of looking at each new title.  I loved reading and taking notes and really thinking about everything I read.

Then, meeting with the full committee in January to make the final decision was an awesome opportunity.  To be literally locked in a room for hours and hours with other committee members who have also put countless hours of thought and consideration into the titles being discussed is an eye-opening experience.  I really learned to respect all of the committee members and the value of their unique insight.  I also think I will never be disappointed in a winner again as I have so much appreciation now for the process.  It’s amazing what comes up in committee conversations that I would not have considered on my own or even talking with colleagues.  
What insights can you share on the medal and honor winners?

Deanna: I can share very little, as we are sworn to secrecy about any conversations that occur once that committee meets.  That said, I can say that they are all exceptional books.  A Ball for Daisy, which was our winner, is outstanding in the way that it captures the deep emotions of love, loss, and ultimately joy – all on a level that a very young reader can relate too.

Me…Jane allows readers a powerful connection to a person that is admired by many and has such a wonderful “aha” moment at the conclusion.  Blackout is wonderfully paced and the use of light to carry the story is quite lovely.  With Grandpa Green, Lane Smith offers up a wonderful story of love and connection across generations.  And, it’s just amazing how much variety and texture that is created using primarily the one color of green.

I love all four books for what they have to offer and feel even more strongly about each after hearing the insight of those other 14 committee members.

What did you like most about participating on the committee?
Deanna: Receiving all of the books published during the year and coming across those that are really gems. It’s an amazing feeling to open that one book, after reading a dozen others, and finding something really special. 

Do you have any unique or interesting stories about your experience on the committee that you’d like to share?
Deanna: When the committee gathered to call Chris Raschka, we were all so excited of course.  We were crowded into a tiny room and gathered around a speaker phone.  We enthusiastically dialed the number given to us only to hear a voice on the line telling us that we had dialed a number that is no longer in service.  What a let-down!  We then called our contact with his publisher and she tracked down a new home phone number as well as a cell phone number to try.  We tried both – no answer!!  We had to move on and call all of the Honor Winners.  We then went back to Raschka – still no luck!  We were on a very tight schedule and were told we would have to leave.  The disappointment was huge.  We had all really looked forward to making that call.  Then, just as the committee was filing out of the room, the publisher contact called our Chair on his cell phone with yet another number we could try.  With high hopes we all hurried back into the room and made the call.  Chris answered!  It was so great to hear his voice and be able to share that exciting moment with him.  After all of the drama of not being able to get through to him, it was the perfect ending.

Any last words?
Deanna: I know that libraries are at an interesting point in time with a lot of questions about the future of libraries circulating out there.  But, I am sure that libraries in some form will be essential to our communities for many, many years to come.  Libraries are about books but, more importantly, they are about information in all of its forms as well as discovery, community, and life-long learning.  Libraries offer people a place to come and make connections to each other and the world at large.  I love being a part of that.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful interview, Ken.
    Deanna - so glad you were all able to make that call!