It was, in the words of one Minneapolis publisher, a "stunningly good ALA for Minnesotans." Five Minnesota authors -- including two debut novelists -- and two Minnesota publishers were honored at the American Library Association awards celebration Monday in San Diego. Prizes were presented in 23 categories, including children's literature's top awards: the Newbery Medal and the Caldecott Medal.
Two Minnesota books were named Newbery Honor Books, a runner-up prize. Joyce Sidman of Wayzata won a Newbery Honor for "Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night," a lush picture book about owls, moles, skunks and bats. The book was illustrated by Duluth artist Rick Allen.
"It's pretty unusual for poetry to be honored" by the Newbery panelists, said Sidman, whose poetic picture books have twice been named Caldecott Honor Books. "And it doesn't happen very often that any picture books are honored."
Margi Preus of Duluth won a Newbery Honor for her historical novel, "Heart of a Samurai," based on the life of a marooned 19th century Japanese fisherman named Manjiro who was rescued by an American whaling ship. Preus is the author of several picture books, and this was her first novel. She was on vacation Monday, but posted on her Facebook page, "I'm kinda loopy right now! Yahoo, Duluth!"
Minneapolis writers Alison McGhee and Kate DiCamillo received the Theodor Seuss Geisel award for best book for beginning readers for "Bink and Gollie," the hilarious and poignant adventures of two little girls. (One tall, one short, one thoughtful, one mouthy -- much like the authors.)
"The Minnesotans are ruling!" McGhee said Monday. "You know, probably the first book I remember having read to me is 'The Cat in the Hat.' I'm a huge Dr. Seuss fan, and so the fact that we won an award named for him, in his honor, makes it a double thrill. It was a very happy surprise."
McGhee said the call came late Sunday night. "It was an unfamiliar number and I thought it was a marketer, but instead it was Julie Roach from the ALA and there was a roomful of people clapping and cheering in the background, so I figured it had to be good news."
"The House of Tomorrow," by St. Paul author Peter Bognanni, was one of 10 books to win an Alex Award as an adult novel that appeals to teens.
As the news broke over Twitter on Monday in waves, award by award, Andrew Karre, editorial director of Minneapolis' Carolrhoda Books, tweeted about the Minnesotans' "stunningly good" performance. Carolrhoda Lab's "The Freak Observer," by Montana writer Blythe Woolston, won the William C. Morris Award for debut novel for teens.
"Love Drugged," by James Klise, published by Flux, a division of Llewellyn of Woodbury, was a Stonewall honor book. The Stonewall award recognizes young adult books of exceptional merit that relate to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered experience.
The Newbery Medal went to Clare Vanderpool for "Moon Over Manifest," the coming-of-age story of a young girl in the 1930s. The Caldecott Medal went to "A Sick Day for Amos McGee," written by Philip C. Stead and illustrated by his wife, Erin E. Stead. Both are debut books.
The Laura Ingalls Wilder Award for a lasting contribution to children's literature went to Tomie dePaolo, and the Margaret A. Edwards Award, another lifetime achievement award, went to Terry Pratchett.
Laurie Hertzel is the Star Tribune books editor. She is at 612-673-7302