Kate DiCamillo has won the 2014 John Newbery Medal for Flora & Ulysses (Candlewick). Brian Floca has won the 2014 Randolph Caldecott Medal for Locomotive (S&S/Atheneum/Jackson). And Marcus Sedgwick has won the 2014 Michael L. Printz Award for Midwinterblood (Roaring Brook). The awards were announced on January 27 at the American Library Association’s midwinter conference in Philadelphia.
On what may be the coldest day of the year in Minnesota, with temperatures dipping down to the negative teens, 2014 Newbery Award winner Kate DiCamillo might be the only person in the state who’s not complaining. Reporting that she was awakened at home in Minneapolis at 5:30 a.m. CST by “the call” from the Newbery committee, DiCamillo said that she was “stunned” by the news that she had won. “And after I hung up, I started to think that I may have imagined the whole thing.”
When PW caught up with Brian Floca by phone less than an hour after the announcement that he’d won the 2014 Caldecott Medal, he admitted to still feeling “a little punch drunk.” Completely understandable: the phone call from the Caldecott committee came at 6:46 a.m. “I could see it was a call from Pennsylvania,” said the author-illustrator. “There was a part of me that really wanted to go back to sleep, and another part that thought it might be good news.”
The idea for Kate DiCamillo's sixth novel, Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures, sprang from two of the most unlikely sources imaginable, unless you have an imagination like the one that keeps the Newbery Medalist awake at night. One day at home in Minnesota, she opened the front door to a disquieting scene. "There was a squirrel on my front step and it was clearly not well, in extremis," she recalls. Somehow, DiCamillo discerned that the tiny creature was still breathing, so being the brave soul she is, she backed up into the house to call a friend for help.
Veteran author-illustrators Brian Floca and Elisha Cooper both had picture books this season about trains; Floca’s encyclopedic Locomotive follows one family’s journey from Nebraska to California not long after the golden spike is driven into the rails at Promontory Summit. PW spoke wtih both artists about what drew them to the railways.
Q: Geek out for us: what's the coolest thing about trains?
BF: I enjoy the phrasing of this question, because I think the train can indeed be both geeky and cool (and I’m fine with both those qualities). I think what initially attracts many kids to trains are the "cool" things: strength, size, agency, speed.