Thursday, April 9, 2009

The AMAM Awards for Almost-Freaky Excellency in Children’s Literature

You may be wondering, why these awards, why right now? Well, readers, I’ll give it to you straight. I woke before 6am again (thanks, Primo), have a deadline today, and have both my children at home (thanks Montessori, for making your spring break TWO FRIGGIN WEEKS long) so my mind is in no shape for long-form musings. Thus, today’s post will be short, sweeeeeeet and very much to the point. So, without further ado, for the first time ever . . . the AMAMS!!!!!!!!

Best Depiction of Grrrrl Power:

Pirate Girl, by Cornelia Funke, illustrated by Kerstin Meyer

I have sought out and read lots of these subverted-princess type tales, and nobody does it better than Funke. She’s funny as hell, lyrical, and empowering. I now use the phrase, “piratical nincompoops” as a term of endearment for my kids. When it comes right down to it, we’re all Barbarous Berthas, when it comes to protecting our kids.

Best Book About the Fallibility of Parents, Which Also Features Vampires:

My Mama Says There Aren't Any Zombies, Ghosts, Vampires, Demons, Monsters, Fiends, Goblins or Things, by Judith Viorst, illustrated by Kay Chorao

You have to be deaf, really dumb and blind not to like Judith Viorst and though this isn’t as well-known as her Alexander books, it features the Alexander character and his brothers. This one addresses a profound conundrum: how do you believe your mother when she says there’s no such thing as zombies, when she’s so woefully wrong about so much? It is true, guys, “even mamas make mistakes.” A must-read for kids who are obsessed with Halloween spooks, like my guy.

Most Galvanizing Moral:

Brundibar, by Tony Kushner. Illustrated by Maurice Sendak

If this was a movie preview, the screen would just have big white letters on black, which read: KUSHNER, and then SENDAK, and then BRUNIDBAR. I am a total fanatic of both these guys and the marriage of the two is just what you want it to be – discordant, unpredictable, funny. A brother and sis with a mama who is sick in bed set off on a quest to get her the milk she needs to make her better, encounter the force of pure evil, and beat him down with the help of 300 other children. United we stand!

Best Crying Scene with a Turtle:

How Little Lori Visited Times Square, by Amos Vogel, illustrated by Maurice Sendak

Being a New Yorker who rarely leaves the city, I don’t really need to read books about NYC . . . but I WANT to. What is better than watching Sendak’s little Lori figure (they all looks like Max to me) end up at South Ferry, Macy’s, Idlewild Airport and Queens? Plus, Lori’s bawl-a-thon with the turtle is hilarious. So I featured Maurice Sendak twice, so sue me. Better yet, take this.

Best Children’s Book of All Time and Forevermore:

Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak

I still have the edition of this book which I read as a little girl, yellowed pages, broken cover and all. It was my favorite back then, the ‘rents say, and it has been one of Primo’s favorite, too. He even dressed up as Max for Halloween one year, the little imp – see picture above. I could write a whole book about this book but as I’ve got a deadline and not enough coffee, I’ll just say this: He found his supper waiting for him. And it was still hot.

And it is -- it is still hot, this book. Getting hotter by the minute with Spike Jonze’s movie about to touch down. David, the kids and I watched the trailer like 10 times this week and we are so there on opening day. Judge for yourself. Watch the trailer.

Opinions? Ideas? Your own favorites?