Tuesday, January 27, 2009


I've ceased to pay attention to any of them. After leaving the kids' dept. at B&N and becoming a cashier I stopped obsessing about the whole thing. I never liked what was picked. The art awards, for example, I thought were either a famous illustrator trying something new (so they needed a pat on the back) or something that got a lot of hype and seemed artsy so the committee thought they needed to award it something. The books that I thought deserved the Caldecott never got anything. And here's a question--why do the same people always win over and over again for doing the same thing?

As for me--I'll probably never win one of the big awards because my books don't fit nicely into one of the categories. Lets take the Sibert for example. I hate to say it but every one of the books that has won that I've noticed seems to cater to adults---they look like oversized coffee table books with illustrations here and there and tons of text. Forget me trying to read one of them as a kid... I can't get past that stuff as an adult! Could I write a long-winded nonfiction book and try to win the award? Yes. Will I? No. My goal is to make learning seem effortless and fun. I want my nonfiction to read like fiction. I want kids to read my books and to want to discover more. I want my books to be the jumping off point for more learning and discovery instead of trying to pack them with every bit of information out there. The challenge in writing a nonfiction book for me is what am I going to leave out? When researching something it's hard not to want to put it all in there. But kids can't digest it all easily. It's too overwhelming that way. That's why I leave a lot out. That's why I make mine simple.

Anyway, perhaps I'm frustrated that I'll never get anywhere and I'm sure I shouldn't bash other people's accomplishments, but heck, this is the blog for honesty right?



Grace Lin said...

Hey Meghan,

I think it's good not to pay too much attention to awards. It is not, in the end, the final goal any children's book author should be trying to achieve.

However, I think you are selling yourself short when you say you don't think you will ever win any of the big awards! I think your nonfiction books ARE done in a great, fresh way--perhaps it is only a matter of time.

Regardless, as I said in my comment in Anna's post, the fact that kids love your books is truly the best award anyway.

Anonymous said...

Meghan, thanks for your honesty--this post was really interesting to read. I hope you'll check out one of the Sibert Honors, What to Do About Alice?, if you haven't already--I think it's more in line with what you'd pick. I confess, I'm not familiar with your work, but Steal Back the Mona Lisa! sounds like it's right up my alley and I'm off to request it from the library right now.

Wendie O said...

I agree with the other Wendy. Check out the winners this year -- you'll be pleasantly surprised how 'readable' they are.

And yes -- kids love your books and that's the most important of all.

Meghan McCarthy said...

Hmm. I guess I should be fair and check out this year's winners. I was so disappointed in the past that I stopped looking.

Wendy, if you want to see what I do now you should look at my nonfiction - aliens are coming or strong man, etc. Steal Back the Mona Lisa is fiction and I sort of gave that up. If I knew how to change the book that's featured on the right I'd take it off and put something up that's more current!