Literary History tidbit.
On this day in history in 1922, the American Library Association awarded the first Newbery Medal to Hendrik Willem van Loon for his children’s book “The Story of Mankind.”
Frederic G. Melcher, a former bookseller who became an editor of Publishers Weekly came up with the idea for an award honoring outstanding literature for children. He proposed the medal should be named for John Newbery, the eighteenth-century English bookseller and author who was considered the father of children’s literature. The purpose of the medal was to encourage originality and excellence in the field of children’s literature.
This year’s winner was Jack Gantos, for “Dead End in Norvelt” published by Farrar Straus Giroux.
The importance of history and reading (so you don’t do the same “stupid stuff” again) is at the heart of this achingly funny romp through a dying New Deal town. While mopping up epic nose bleeds, Jack narrates this screw-ball mystery in an endearing and believable voice.
“Who knew obituaries and old lady death could be this funny and this tender?” Newbery Medal Committee Chair, Viki Ash, stated.
The Newbery Medal was designed by Rene Paul Chambellan, it depicts on the obverse an author giving his work (a book) to a boy and a girl to read. The Newbery Medal is considered the one of the most prestigious awards for children's literature in the United States.