When EXACTLY will the 2009 Newbery Award Winner be Announced?

The Newbery Award winner is announced each year at the mid-winter ALA (American Library Association) conference. This year it will be on Monday, January 26th at 9:45 AM, Eastern Standard Time (7:45 AM Mountain Time in Colorado where the ALA conference is being held. I guess librarians don’t generally party until the wee hours of the morning! And therefore, they function well at such times.)

The Newbery Award announcement is always made on the Monday morning of the ALA conference. But in January 1996, Christopher Paul Curtis didn’t know that. He did know that his first children’s book, The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963 was being considered for the Newbery. In fact, people who should know said they thought it was likely that the book would win some kind of Newbery Honor. But, he had also heard, that while the winners were publicly announced Monday morning, the winners were notified Sunday evening.

So, he made sure to be home with family that fateful Sunday evening. The phone did not ring. Periodically, Curtis or another family member would pick it up to make sure they still had dial-tone. Disappointment set in as the evening wore on. Curtis said by the time he went up to bed, he was convincing himself that awards are overrated and that he really didn’t want a Newbery.

Curtis had a disciplined routine of going to his public library each morning to write and so, the next morning, off he went. His wife, a sound sleeper, was woken up by the call from the ALA. She told them that Curtis was not at home, but at the library, then she put them on hold when another call came in saying the book had won a Coretta Scott King award.

The ALA members grew tired of being on hold, and called Curtis’s local library and told the librarian who answered that The Watsons Go to Birmingham had been named a Newbery Honor book. The librarian went and found Curtis and gave him a big hug before telling him the news.

So…. if YOU are ever in the running for a Newbery, remember it will be the Monday morning of the mid-winter ALA conference when the winners are announced.

And if you are interested in learning this year’s winner, the moment it is announced, you can view the live webcast of the announcement, at http://www.unikron.com/clients/ala-webcast-2009

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