(SAN ANTONIO) Lynne Rae Perkins, author of “Criss Cross,” and Chris Raschka, illustrator of “The Hello, Goodbye Window,” are the 2006 winners of the John Newbery and Randolph Caldecott medals, the most prestigious awards in children’s literature.

Perkins and Raschka were among the award winners announced January 23 by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), during the ALA Midwinter Meeting in San Antonio, January 20-25. Considered the “Academy Awards” of children’s book publishing, the Newbery and Caldecott medals honor outstanding writing and illustration of works published in the United States during the previous year.
“Criss Cross” follows the lives of four 14-year-olds in a small town, each at their own crossroads. This ensemble cast explores new thoughts and feelings in their quest to find the meaning of life and love.

“Writing in a wry, omniscient third-person narrative voice, Perkins deftly captures the tentativeness and incompleteness of adolescence,” said Award Committee Chair Barbara Barstow. “In 38 brief chapters, this poetic, postmodern novel experiments with a variety of styles: haiku, song lyrics, question-and-answer dialogue and split-screen scenarios. With seeming yet deliberate randomness, Perkins writes an orderly, innovative, and risk-taking book in which nothing happens and everything happens.” The book is published by Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

The 2006 Caldecott Medal for illustration is awarded to Chris Raschka for “The Hello, Goodbye Window,” written by Norton Juster and published by Michael di Capua Books, an imprint of Hyperion Books for Children. In this sunny portrait of familial love, a little girl tells us about her everyday experiences visiting her grandparents’ house. Raschka’s style resembles the spontaneous drawings of children, perfectly mirroring the guileless young narrator’s exuberant voice. White space balances the density of the layered colors, creating a visual experience that is surprisingly sophisticated.

“With a few energetic lines, Raschka suggests a world filled with affection and humor,” said Award Committee Chair Gratia Banta. “The richly textured tones of these expressive illustrations convey the emotional warmth of the intergenerational connection.”

Raschka won a Caldecott Honor for “Yo! Yes?” in 1994.
Four Newbery Honor Books were named: “Whittington” by Alan Armstrong, illustrated by S.D. Schindler and published by Random House; “Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler’s Shadow” by Susan Campbell Bartoletti and published by Scholastic Nonfiction, an imprint of Scholastic; “Princess Academy” by Shannon Hale, published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books; and “Show Way” by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Hudson Talbott and published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons.

In “Whittington,” Armstrong creates a glorious barnyard fantasy that seamlessly weaves together three tales: Whittington the cat’s arrival on Bernie’s farm, his retelling of the traditional legend of his 14th-century namesake, and one boy’s struggle to learn to read. These three tales unite the disparate citizens of the barn community in a celebration of oral and written language, the support of friends, the healing power of humor and the triumph of life.
How could the Holocaust have happened? Bartoletti delivers a chilling answer by exploring Hitler’s rise to power through the first-hand experiences of young followers whose adolescent zeal he so successfully exploited and the more extraordinary few who risked certain death in resisting. The meticulously researched volume traces the Hitler Youth movement from the time it formally gathered strength in the early 1930s through the defeat of the Third Reich. The grace and clarity of the writing make “Hitler Youth: Growing Up in Hitler’s Shadow” a powerful addition to Holocaust literature for children.

Miri and the other young women of her rocky highland village are forced to leave their close-knit community when the prince must choose a bride in “The Princess Academy.” Like the miri flower, which sprouts from the cracks in the linder rock, Miri soon becomes the strong, resilient and courageous leader of the academy. The book is a fresh approach to the traditional princess story with unexpected plot twists and great emotional resonance.
“And the children leaned in./And listened real hard.” Jacqueline Woodson’s magnificent poem “Show Way” tells the story of slavery, emancipation and triumph for each generation of her maternal ancestors. She pays tribute to the creative women who guided their “tall and straight-boned” daughters to courage, self-sufficiency and freedom. Whether with quilts or stories, poems or songs, these women discovered and shared the strength to carry on. “There’s a road, girl./There’s a road.”

Four Caldecott Honor Books were named: “Rosa,” illustrated by Bryan Collier, written by Nikki Giovanni and published by Henry Holt and Company; “Zen Shorts,” written and illustrated by Jon J. Muth and published by Scholastic Press; “Hot Air: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Hot-Air Balloon Ride,” written and illustrated by Marjorie Priceman, An Anne Schwartz Book from Atheneum Books for Young Readers, Simon & Schuster; “Song of the Water Boatman and Other Pond Poems,” illustrated by Beckie Prange, written by Joyce Sidman and published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

From the arresting cover through the endpapers, “Rosa,” with Giovanni’s spare, elegant prose and Collier’s iconic illustrations, celebrates the quiet courage of Rosa Parks. Collier’s radiant watercolors of faces and hands highlighted against the edges of his richly colored collages create another distinguished work of art from this award-winning illustrator. Collier also received a 2002 Caldecott Honor for “Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,” written by Doreen Rappaport.

“Zen Shorts,” Muth’s story of inquisitive siblings befriending a wise panda, is told through luminous watercolors interwoven with three lessons, set apart by starkly contrasting Asian-inspired brush paintings. The interplay of artistic styles elegantly conveys the gentle, timeless messages of self-knowledge and acceptance.
Energetic lines and rich watercolors animate “Hot Air: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Hot-Air Balloon Ride,” an aerial adventure over 18th-century France. Priceman, who previously received a 1996 Caldecott Honor for “Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin,” combines spare text, dynamic design and masterful perspective to illuminate the humor and high jinks of three animals swept up in the winds of history.
Eleven joyful songs of everyday pond life throughout the seasons are celebrated through “Song of the Water Boatman and Other Pond Poems,” an elegant and satisfying combination of visual drama, poetry and scientific facts. The organic lines of Prange’s exceptionally executed, hand-colored woodblock illustrations enlarge upon Sidman’s expressive nature-themed poems.

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