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Seeger, wordless sea tale win kids' book honors

A book by Pete Seeger about a young musician who loses his hearing and a wordless story about an underwater camera were among the winners of children’s book prizes announced Monday by the American Library Association.
/ Source: The Associated Press

A book by Pete Seeger about a young musician who loses his hearing and a wordless story about an underwater camera were among the winners of children’s book prizes announced Monday by the American Library Association.

The John Newbery Medal for the year’s “outstanding contribution” was awarded to Susan Patron’s “The Higher Power of Lucky,” the adventures of a 10-year-old girl and her search for a “Higher Power.” Previous winners of the Newberys, started in 1922, include Madeleine L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle in Time” and Louis Sachar’s “Holes.”

The Randolph Caldecott Medal for best picture book went to “Flotsam,” a seaside story about photos taken by a vintage underwater camera, narrated exclusively through pictures by David Wiesner, now a three-time Caldecott winner.

“There’s something about letting readers tell the story in their own words, in their own voices, that’s really appealing,” said Wiesner, 50, who lives just outside of Philadelphia. “It’s something I’ve been intrigued about even in high school. It just struck a real chord with me.”

Also Monday, folk icon Seeger, 87, and co-author Paul DuBois Jacobs received the Schneider Family Book Award for “books that embody the artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences.”

Their book, “The Deaf Musicians,” tells of a young boy who forms a jazz group with other deaf performers, becoming a sensation for their nightly subway concerts.

“I first thought of the story about 30 or 40 years ago,” said Seeger, who credited Jacobs with fleshing out his idea.

“I hadn’t known until then what signing was, and when I found out I imagined what you could do with that. I imagined two musicians in the subway using language to talk about jazz. ‘I love Louis Armstrong.’ ‘What about Sidney Bechet?’ ”

Two other books received Schneider awards: Cynthia Lord’s “Rules” and “Small Steps,” by Louis Sachar.

A graphic novel and National Book Award finalist, Gene Luen Yang’s “American Born Chinese,” won the Michael L. Printz Award for “excellence in literature written for young adults.” The Coretta Scott King Book Award for best book by a black author went to Sharon Draper’s “Copper Sun.” The King award for illustration went to Kadir Nelson for “Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom,” written by Carole Boston Weatherford.

Two authors received honorary prizes. The late author-illustrator James Marshall, who worked on such humorous books as the “George and Martha” series and the mishaps of the Stupid family, won the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award for “a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children.”

The Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement was given to Lois Lowry, a Newbery winner in 1990 for “Number the Stars” and in 1994 for “The Giver.”