A phrase made famous by author and host Kate DiCamillo was the exclamation that described the evening for the seventh annual Children’s Book Choice Awards, on May 14, organized by the Children’s Book Council and Every Child a Reader at the event space, the Capitale, in New York City. A variety of authors were on hand—including conservative radio commentator Rush Limbaugh, Children’s Book Author of the Year winner, who made a brief surprise appearance to accept his award for Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims: Time Travel Adventures with Exceptional Americans (S. & S., 2013) before slipping out of the ceremony.
Although many in attendance were self-proclaimed liberals, they were respectful of Limbaugh’s winning and the process that selects winners based on titles’ “performance on the bestsellers lists.”
At some point to the otherwise smooth evening, a kitchen malfunction that filled the venue with smoke, forced attendees to evacuate onto the sidewalk, as firemen and fire trucks secured the premise; but on the street, the excitement of the evening continued to mount. Despite the exodus, DiCamillo persevered, and the show did eventually go on. This has been a big year for the author, who won the Newbery Medal for her novel Flora & Ulysses (Candlewick, 2013) and who was also named National Ambassador for Young People for 2014–16.
Throughout the evening, DiCamillo graciously joked about former Ambassador Jon Scieszka, who was in the audience surrounded by kid lit friends Adam Gidwitz, Sophie Blackwell, John Bemelmans Marciano, and Sergio Ruzzier—the last, there as a nominee in the kindergarten-to-second grade category for his book Bear and Bee (Disney/Hyperion, 2013).
Author and illustrator Jarrett J. Krosoczka presented the Children’s Book Council Impact Award, an honor bestowed upon an “individual whose actions or programs have creatively and significantly instilled a lifelong love of reading in children,” to actor and former “Star Trek: The Next Generation” cast member, Levar Burton. Burton, who hosted the PBS program “Reading Rainbow” from 1983 to 2009 and who has been involved with the “Reading Rainbow” app, was unable to attend due to a family illness.
Amongst the evening’s noteworthy books that were recognized are Drew Daywalt’s The Day the Crayons Quit (Penguin, 2013), David Shannon’s Bugs in My Hair (Scholastic, 2013), and Veronica Roth’s Allegiant (HarperCollins, 2013). The full list of the winners can be found here.
See below for a video of Krosoczka presenting the Impact Award to Burton: