January 19, 2010

Jerry Pinkney

Man, you guys are way too understanding. Not one of you took me to task about my grump yesterday. I got all nice, encouraging comments (which I'm very thankful for, of course). The best one came this morning from MLB (My Lovely Bride):

"Suck it up Eeyore! What do you have to feel grumpy about? What kind of attitude is that from the soon-to-be-best-ever-teacher-librarian- who-might-also-dress-up-as-Captain-Underpants?!

I mean really - if you are going to go all 'Eeyore' online then it's probably time to hang up your hat before you fall
into 'Julie and Julia' egocentrist pitydom.

You rock - stop being a grump - you love books and you know it so ...

suck it up and do something BOOKY!"

Now THAT, my friends, is a comment! Is she not the best thing ever? (And full disclosure: I have indeed dressed up as Captain Underpants.)

So here you go. Among the mind-numbing list of awards yesterday and all the gushing, there was indeed one that got me. Jerry Pinkney. I didn't realize he'd never won the Caldecott. He's won the Honors numerous times and it's not like he's hurting for awards, but it's nice that he's finally gotten the gold seal for his The Lion & the Mouse.

I got to spend some time with him at the Georgia Book Awards a few years ago. He actually wasn't on the original lineup. He graciously stepped in for an ailing Julius Lester. I spent a long evening at an airport waiting to pick him up, but that flight never came. The next morning he arrived right in time to speak. In all the time I was with him, during book signings and such, he was a friendly but serious guy. It was only when he began showing slides of his artwork and talking about the art and the stories that he just softened up and had a lot to say.

He's clearly in love with the natural world and storytelling and he has an absolutely amazing body of work that he has shared with us.

He's also very up front about the learning difficulties he had as a student and is amazed that he is now a producer of books. Actually, I was struck that year that a number of well-known children's writers and illustrators had reading and writing difficulties. It's great when they share this with teachers, librarians and students so we never forget that there are different ways to learn and different ways to succeed.

Congratulations, Mr. Pinkney. Keep up the excellent work.