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Books that Medaled: Lesser Known Caldecott Winners

By Connie Diamond. May 19, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Awarded Books

When my girls had library day at school or took home a book order form in their oversized backpacks, they were always excited to make their book choice. When you consider it, children actually have a fairly small number of things in their life on which they get to make the final decision. In their quest, I’m certain they carefully circled the library shelves at school as well as the pictures and descriptors in the fliers—usually with brightly colored hi-lighters if memory serves. I’m not sure when or how this happened, but nothing tipped the scales more or caused greater excitement than when a book had a medal on its cover. I can now point to this as an early sign of a lifetime of good decision-making. The Randolph Caldecott Medal is awarded yearly for the most distinguished American picture book for children. Among its recipients are titles with which many of us are familiar. However, since its inception in 1938, I’m certain there are a number of books that flew under or eventually fell off of our literary radar. Here are a few medalists worth rediscovering.

     
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Win the Man Booker Prize, Sell More Books!

By Anne Cullison. Mar 14, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Awarded Books, Literature

The Man Booker Prize was created in 1969 with the aim of promoting the finest in fiction by a citizen of the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth, or the Republic of Ireland written during the preceding year. Prize winners are chosen by judges who make the selections for the best novel based on personal opinion alone. The cash value of this Prize is relatively low, with winners receiving only £50,000. However, the Man Booker Prize draws attention to works of fiction which might otherwise have gone unnoticed. As Ion Trewin, the late Literary Director of the Booker Prize Foundation stated, the true prize for the winners is the “significant increase in the sales of the winning book.” With a prize that is based wholly on opinion, it should come as no surprise that there have been more than a few controversies surrounding the Man Booker Prize over the years.

     
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Best Books on Canada

By Audrey Golden. Feb 3, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Awarded Books, Literature, Literary travel

In many ways, writing a short article listing the best books on Canada is an impossible task. The nation is a particularly diverse one filled with prolific First Nations indigenous writers, novelists who are descendants of European settlers, and immigrant authors from Southern and West Africa, Southeast Asia, Central Europe, and other parts of the world. In short, we can’t imagine any kind of singular classification of Canadian literature. We can, however, offer you some of our more recent favorites that make up at least one list of the best books on this country.

     
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South African Literature in the Early Days of Apartheid

By Audrey Golden. Jan 25, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Awarded Books, Literature, Nobel Prize Winners

After World War II ended in 1945, the de facto racism that had plagued Black South Africans for decades became institutionalized when the National Party came to power in 1948. The all-white Afrikaner government instituted the system of apartheid, which produced laws that required racial segregation and imposed severe penalties for those who opposed the regime. Through the 1960s, Black South Africans were forced into segregated townships outside the major cities of South Africa, such as Johannesburg, Cape Town, and Durban. For fiction writers and authors of creative nonfiction who sought to speak out against the policies of apartheid, publication possibilities became very limited. In many instances, writers were severely censored, and numerous authors saw their work banned in their home country of South Africa. Yet works of both nonfiction and fiction survive to help depict for us the early years of apartheid and the ways in which the government perpetrated irreparable harms upon many citizens of South Africa.

     
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Edith Wharton's Bygone New York

By Adrienne Rivera. Jan 24, 2017. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Pulitzer Prize, Awarded Books

Novelist, short story writer, poet, and non-fiction writer Edith Wharton is well known for being the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize. She is also well know for bucking the traditional lifestyle expected of women of her status during her day and age, and for her incredible efforts to help women and children in France during World War I. Amazingly, her prolific literary career did not gain momentum until she was forty years old. However, the wide variety of her publicationsincluding nonfiction relating to travel and interior designinstilled in readers and critics of numerous genres a lasting sense of respect for the writer. For her literary and cultural impact, Wharton was given an honorary degree from Yale University (the only reason she ever bothered to briefly visit after moving to France), and a street in Paris, the Rue Edith Wharton, is named in her honor.

     
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Christa Wolf, Awarded Authors, and the Deutscher Bücherpreis

By Audrey Golden. Nov 16, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Awarded Books, Literature

Christa Wolf may just be one of the greatest novelists to come out of Germany. Yet despite her popularity and critical recognition in Europe, the East German novelist remains largely outside the purview of many contemporary American readers. We’d like to change that. Whether you’re reading her novels in German or in English translation, you should recognize that you’re consuming works of fiction that helped to define, in many ways, the divided postwar Germany. In honor of her life’s work, Wolf was awarded the Deutscher Bücherpreis [German Book Prize] in 2002—the first year in which the prestigious prize was given. Since her death in 2011, Wolf’s fiction has received some renewed attention, but perhaps not quite enough given the author’s significance in helping to depict East Germany and politics of partition during the Cold War.

     
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Beyond Schindler's List: The Work of Thomas Keneally

By Adrienne Rivera. Oct 7, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Awarded Books, Literature, Movie Tie-Ins

So much of Australian literature is focused on what it means to be Australian and what Australia as a country represents. There are echoes of English literature throughout the Australian canon as well as frequent thematic exploration of colonialism and the country's beginnings as an English penal colony. The harsh and brutal landscape of the Australian bush is a common setting: it's unique and amazing animal life often appearing in some form or another. So, too, is the importance of Aboriginal culture often present in Australian literature. It is interesting to note, then, that one of Australia's most internationally well-known writers so often ventures away from the themes for which his country and its literature is known.

     
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The Jerzy Kosinski Controversy

By Adrienne Rivera. Jun 14, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Awarded Books, History

Jerzy Kosinski was born in Poland not long after Hitler's rise to power. After years spent denying his Jewish faith, Kosinski immigrated to the United States (by forging documents of Communist support vowing he'd return to his homeland). He was quickly successful in the U.S. He graduated from Columbia University, received a Guggenheim Fellowship, and taught at universities like Yale and Princeton. His books appeared on the New York Times Best Seller list, and he won several awards. For all intents and purposes, he was on the fast track to fame and fortune. Somewhere along the way, though, he hit some bumps in the road.

     
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Caldecott Winners You Don't Know About...But Should

By Abigail Wheetley. Mar 11, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Caldecott Medal, Children's Books, Awarded Books

The list of Caldecott Award Winnersthose books that have been recognized by the Association of Library Service to Children for being the most distinguished American picture book for childrenis long and varied. The Little House, Madeline, Where the Wild Things Are, Frog Went A-Courtin’, and many more famous books might come to mind when thinking of the Caldecott honor. However, there are more than a few unusual treasures that you’ve probably never heard of. Now we bring them off the shelves, clear some dust, and introduce you to these winners of one of the highest honors in children’s book publishing.

     
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The Life and Art of Ralph Ellison

By Adrienne Rivera. Mar 1, 2016. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Awarded Books, American Literature

Ralph Ellison was born in 1914 in Oklahoma City. He was named after poet Ralph Waldo Emerson. His father was a voracious reader and often read to Ellison and his younger brother, Herbert. When Ellison was only three years old, his father was killed in a work-related accident after shards from a fallen ice block pierced his abdomen. Although his mother eventually remarried, Ellison grew up knowing how much his father loved him, and as an adult, he learned his father had wished for him to grow up to be a poet, like his namesake.

     
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