The notable children’s book list has been posted, and I’m so pleased to see that the listings are annotated. That’s helpful.

I’d like to send out particular congratulations to Deborah Hopkinson, author of Apples to Oregon: Being the (Slightly) True Narrative of How a Brave Pioneer Father Brought Apples, Peaches, Pears, Plums, Grapes, and Cherries (and Children) Across the Plains, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter (Anne Schwartz, 2004).

I’m hoping The Theodor Seuss Geisel Award raises awareness and appreciation of authors like Deborah, who is hands-down one of the top picture book writers.

It’s always torn at me how picture book writing has been slow to gain celebration over the years. Not that there aren’t any awards. SCBWI offers a Golden Kite in the category and the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the School of Education, University of Wisconsin-Madison offers the Charlotte Zolotow Award, which are both wonderful. However, they don’t yet have the kind of prestige and professional punch in the industry that the ALA awards do.

Someone like Hopkinson deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Newbery and Caldecott winners.

I was also thrilled to see Cesar: Si, Se Peude!/Yes, We Can! by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand, illustrated by David Diaz (Marshall Cavendish, 2004), which was my Cynsational “Quasiberry” pick of 2004.

Ditto on The People Could Fly by Virginia Hamilton, illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon (Knopf, 2004), which was one of my “honorish” books for the “Quasicott.”

I also absolutely adore Naomi Shihab Nye’s Is This Forever, Or What? Poems & Paintings from Texas (Greenwillow, 2004). One of my all-time favorite books. My signed copy is proudly displayed on the tiny arts-and-crafts desk in the guest room.

It’s particularly validating that this book was selected, too, because it’s such an unapologetic celebration of a region. I worry sometimes that in our effort to be universal, even multicultural or international, that we as the children’s literature community neglect to be inclusive of U.S. regional diversity, both in terms of talent and subject matter.