Yesterday morning, the American Library Association announced the best books of the year for children and teens. I look forward to this annoucement all year because some of my favorite books of all time are Newbery winners (from Island of the Blue Dolphins to The View from Saturday), and as an elementary school kid I made an effort to read as many past winners as possible.

Over at A Fuse #8 Production (the School Library Journal-hosted blog), Betsy Bird wrote an interesting post about Newbery/Caldecott trends. For example, 2008 was The Year of Breaking Barriers (when awards went to Hugo Cabret and Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!) and last year was The Year of the Givens (The Lion and the Mouse and When You Reach Me). Bird accurately predicted that 2011 would be The Year of the Wild Cards.

Like many bloggers (including Bird), I was rooting for Rita Williams-Garcia to take home the big prize (the Newbery) for One Crazy Summer. BookPage interviewed Williams-Garcia back in February 2010 and praised the author's "gift for combining everyday settings with social commentary and wry wit." One Crazy Summer ended up receiving a Newbery Honor (nothing to frown on), along with the Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award, not to mention the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction.

The major surprises at the Youth Media Awards were that the Newbery and Caldecott went to a debut novelist and a debut picture book illustrator. Clare Vanderpool, the Newbery winner for Moon Over Manifest, a Depression-era story, lives in Kansas. Erin E. Stead, a 28-year-old illustrator in Ann Arbor, won the Caldecott for A Sick Day for Amos McGee, which was written by her husband Philip.

Even though I was surprised by this year's announcement, I'm still happy with how things turned out. I haven't read Moon Over Manifest, but now I can't wait to get my hands on it. It's always fun to be introduced to new talent.

Were you surprised by this year's big winners? Excited?

Below the jump, find the list of winners and honorees for the Newbery, Caldecott, Printz and Coretta Scott King Awards:

Newbery Medal "for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature":
Winner: Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool
Honors: Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm; Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus; Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night by Joyce Sidman; One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

Caldecott Medal "for the most distinguished American picture book for children":
Winner: A Sick Day for Amos McGee illustrated by Erin E. Stead
Honors: Dave the Potter: Artist, Poet, Slave illustrated by Bryan Collier; Interrupting Chicken, written and illustrated by David Ezra Stein

Printz Award "for excellence in literature written for young adults":

Winner: Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Honors: Stolen by Lucy Christopher; Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King; Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick, Nothing by Janne Teller

Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award "recognizing an African American author of outstanding books for children and young adults":

Winner: One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
Honors: Lockdown by Walter Dean Myers; Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes; Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty by G. Neri

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