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'Bud Not Buddy' author wins Newbery, King awards


January 17, 2000
Web posted at: 4:28 p.m. EST (2128 GMT)

By Jamie Allen
CNN Interactive Senior Writer

(CNN) -- When Christopher Paul Curtis released his second book, "Bud, Not Buddy," in September 1999, readers were wondering if he could match the success of his 1996 novel for young people. After all, "The Watsons Go to Birmingham -- 1963" won an honorable mention for the Newbery Medal.

Here's the official answer: Curtis has matched his first success, and then some.

On Monday, the American Library Association named Curtis' "Bud, Not Buddy" the winner of the 2000 Newbery Medal, which is given to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.

Christopher Paul Curtis  

But that's not all: The book also won the ALA's Coretta Scott King Award recognizing African American authors.

The announcement was made on the national holiday recognizing the birth of Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. The ALA is currently holding its mid-winter meeting in San Antonio, Texas. Several other awards were also announced:

  • Simms Taback, illustrator of "Joseph Had a Little Overcoat," won the 2000 Caldecott Medal recognizing the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.

  • Brian Pinkney, illustrator for "In the Time of the Drums," won the King award for illustrators.

  • Walter Dean Myers, author of "Monster," was named the winner of the Michael L. Printz Award honoring the best of teen fiction. It was the first year the award was handed out.

    "Bud, Not Buddy," published by Delacorte Press, is the story of Bud Caldwell, a 10-year-old who runs away from a foster home in search of his father. His only clues are old flyers left by his dead mother that point to a legendary jazz bandleader.

    During an exclusive interview in September, Curtis admitted that he wasn't a voracious reader as a child -- mainly because there were no books that spoke directly to him.


    "The reason I think I wasn't a big book person is because there were no books for, by, or about African-Americans," he says. "Even today that's true. There are not a lot of books by us, about us, for us. And I hope 'Watsons' and now 'Bud, Not Buddy' can fill that niche."

    The ALA believed it did more than that. "Bud, Not Buddy," says Carolyn S. Brodie, chair of the Newbery Award Selection Committee, "resonates with both zest and tenderness as it entertains questions about racism, belonging, love, and hope."

    The Caldecott Award winner received similar praise. Speaking of "Joseph Had a Little Overcoat," Barbara Z. Kiefer, chair of the Caldecott Award Selection Committee, said "vibrant rich colors, playful details, and skillfully-placed die cuts contribute to the book's raucous merriment that takes this Yiddish folk song far beyond the simple words. The patchwork layout of the pages, the two-dimensional paintings and the exaggerated perspectives, reminiscent of the folk art tradition, are the very fabric that turn this overcoat into a story."

    The Newbery and Caldecott honors are considered the top prizes in children's literature.

    "It's increased sales of my book probably at least three-fold, maybe more," says Louis Sachar, who won the 1999 Newbery for his book, "Holes." "It's given me new prestige. In the past I was recognized in the field as a popular children's author, but I think there was a percentage of literary critics who didn't take my work that seriously. But I can sense a change of attitude now."

    Three Newbery Honor Books were named: "Getting Near to Baby," by Audrey Couloumbis; "26 Fairmount Avenue," written and illustrated by Tomie dePaola; and "Our Only May Amelia," by Jennifer L. Holm.

    Four Caldecott Honor Books were named: "Sector 7," illustrated and written by David Weisner; "The Ugly Duckling," adapted and illustrated by Jerry Pinkney, based on the fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen; "When Sophie Gets Angry - Really, Really Angry," illustrated and written by Molly Bang; and "A Child's Calendar," illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman, with text by John Updike.

    Author follows Newbery Honor with new novel for young readers
    September 21, 1999
    Newbery, Caldecott winners to be announced Monday
    January 14, 2000

    Caldecott Medal Home Page
    Newbery Medal Home Page
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