Well. I did read the book, and was very impressed (as were most readers) by Rebecca Stead's deft handling of character development and relationship growth. She crafted a tight plot—however, one that I felt fell short. It gives the semblance of falling perfectly into place at the climax—like another Newbery winner, Holes, for example. My problem, which I am surprised no one else brought up, is that the plot is too forced. So many problems could have been solved very simply: Why can't the notes be more direct? Why can't the time traveler at least give his name? Why can he warn the characters through ambiguous notes, yet not simply tell them in person? Furthermore, the rules of time travel are highly ambiguous, a big rule-breaker for anyone immersed in the SciFi genre, and the only explanation given sounds technical but is really philosophical—unfortunately, any philosopher could find several holes in it. I find it ironic that the author took the best philosophical argument against travel into the past (that is, the impossibility of free will if one's actions have “already happened and therefore must happen”) and used it as the premise for her explanation of time travel and her “Aha! moment” in the plot.So, that's what I think. I'd be thrilled to carry on a lengthy philosophical argument with anyone who disagrees, however.Onto the Printz award... I can't decisively comment on the winner because I didn't finish it. I started it, loved the humor, was very disturbed by the constant crude language and casual drug use, and finally had to stop when I realized my list of “possibly objectionable topics” would be longer than my review. I do think Francisco X. Stork deserved to win this award (though he has my congratulations on winning the Schneider Family Award)... I will reiterate now that Marcelo in the Real World was one of the most beautiful and relevant books I've read in my lifetime. Though it, too, had its share of difficult topics, I believe the grace with which they were handled may be unparalleled.
Finally, it's not really my field of expertise, but I did think Pinkney deserved his Caldecott for The Lion and the Mouse—beautifully done. However, it was pointed out to me that his lovely, dramatic cover was hardly original...a talented Welsh artist by the name of Jackie Morris has done it before, twice. Compare, and enjoy: