The winners of the two most prestigious awards given for children's literature, the Newbery and Caldecott medals, were announced this week by the American Library Association.
"Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices," by Paul Fleischman (Harper/Zolotow), was awarded the 1988 Newbery Medal for the best children's book by an American author. This is the second time in six years that a book of poetry has won this award. Honor awards for the Newbery were given to Walter Dean Meyers' "Scorpions" (Harper) and to Paula Fox for "Village Beside the Sea" (Orchard)."Song and Dance Man," by Karen Akerman, illustrated by Stephen Gammell (Knopf), won the Caldecott Medal for the best picture book of the year by an American illustrator. It is the story of Grandpa's old vaudeville routines, including songs, jokes, magic tricks and the old soft-shoe dance numbers. This nostalgic piece shares honors with "Miranda and the Brother Wind," by Patricia McKissack, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney (Knopf); "The Boy of the Three-Year nap," by Dianne Snyder, illustrated by Allen Say (Houghton Mifflin); and "Goldilocks and the Three Bears," re-told and illustrated by James Marshall (Dial).
The Newbery winner,"Joyful Noise: Poetry for Two Voices," illustrated by EricBeddows ($11.95), is a collection of poetry scored for two voices, with the script in dual columns to be read together or as solo voices: *****
Being a bee Being a bee is a joy.
is a pain. I'm a queen.
I'm a worker,
I'll gladly explain. I'll gladly explain upon
rising. I'm fed
by my royal attendants...
The 14 insects are familiar ones - a grasshopper, a butterfly, a digger wasp, house crickets. Each poem is unique, adapting the crisp sounds of the "joyful noise" ("grasshoppers hopping...") or the emotional demeanor of a mute subject ("Carolina sphinx moths/Grant them rest eternal..."
The language never intrudes on what the insects are or are not. The charm of "Mayflies" holds strong, as does the humor of the two "Book Lice," who have diverse literary tastes throughout a budding relationship.
The interpretive black-and-white sketches are extensions of the lyrical linesand, together with the fascinating endpapers, "Joyful Noise" is truly worthy of this distinctive honor and award.