The New Classics: 2012's Award-Winning Children's Books

The American Library Association (ALA) announced the winners of a multitude of awards for children's literature at its meeting last week in addition to the well-known Newbery and Caldecott Medals. Learn a little more about some of these awards and this year's recipients.

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soldier bear

The Batchelder Award

The Batchelder Award recognizes an exceptional children's book that was translated into English and published in the United States after its original publication in another language and country. The 2012 award was given to Eerdmans Books for Young Readers for its publication of Soldier Bear by Bibi Dumon Tak. This book was first published in Dutch as Soldaat Wojtek.

The story, which is based in fact, centers on a group of refugee Polish soldiers during World War II. While transporting equipment for the British army, the soldiers acquire a young bear. Over time, the bear's role with the troops grows from curiosity to key player. The bear does everything from raising morale to passing ammunition.

duncan tonatiuh diego rivera

The Pura Belpre Award

Pura Belpre was the first Latina librarian at the New York Public Library. Two Pura Belpre Awards, one for writing and one for illustrating, are given each year to Latino/Latina authors and illustrators whose works celebrate and affirm Latino culture. The 2012 Author Award Winner is Guadalupe Garcia McCall for Under the Mesquite and the 2012 Illustrator Award Winner is Duncan Tonatiuh for Diego Rivera: His World and Ours.

Told in verse, Under the Mesquite is the story of Lupita, a Mexican American girl in Texas. The aspiring actress and poet faces tragedy when her mother is diagnosed with cancer. Lupita must balance starring in a play, maintaining her high school friendships and caring for her ailing mother.

Diego Rivera: His World and Ours provides young readers with an introduction to the noted artist. Before becoming a famous painter, young Diego was a mischievous boy with big dreams. Tonatiuh, who wrote and illustrated the book, offers his own versions of Diego's art, as well as interpretations of what the painter's work might look like today.

josh schneider tales for very picky eaters

The Geisel Award

Named for Theodor Geisel, who was better known as Dr. Seuss, this award honors the writer and illustrator of a significant book for beginning readers. The 2012 winner is Tales for Very Picky Eaters, which was written and illustrated by Josh Schneider.

Schneider's book contains five chapters. In each one, young James faces a new and disgusting food he refuses to eat. His father offers clever and silly reasons why James should expand his palette to little avail. Ultimately, James decides that trying something new may not be so bad.

melissa sweet balloons over broadway macy

The Silbert Medal

The Silbert Medal is awarded each year to the author and illustrator of a distinguished informational book. The award's namesake is Robert F. Silbert, the long-serving President of Bound to Stay Bound Books, Inc. The 2012 Silbert Medal winner is Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy's Parade by Melissa Sweet.

Sweet's book combines words and illustrations to tell the tale of Tony Sarg, the mastermind behind the large balloons of the Thanksgiving parade in New York City. Sweet describes how Sarg's passion for art and creation began when he was a child. Through his determination and inventiveness, he created the helium-filled puppets that delight children and adults each year.

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