NEW YORK -- This year's winners of the top prizes in children's literature were honored for stories of resilience over the most everyday troubles: a boy grounded by his parents, a dog that loses its favorite toy.
Jack Gantos' "Dead End in Norvelt'' won the John Newbery Medal for the best children's book of 2011, and Chris Raschka's "A Ball for Daisy'' won the Randolph Caldecott award for best illustration. The prizes were announced Monday by the American Library Association during its midwinter meeting in Dallas.
No cash prizes are given, but the awards are watched closely by booksellers and librarians and often lead to increased sales and a lasting place on a school or store bookshelf. Previous winners include such favorites as Louis Sachar's "Holes'' and Brian Selznick's "The Invention of Hugo Cabret,'' the basis for Martin Scorsese's film "Hugo.''
Within hours of the prizes' announcement, "Dead End in Norvelt'' and "A Ball for Daisy'' were both in the top 50 on Amazon.com and both out of stock.
Gantos and Raschla are well established in children's publishing. Gantos, 60, has been a finalist for the Newbery and the National Book Award. Raschka, 52, won the Caldecott in 2006 for "The Hello, Goodbye Window.''
Gantos' novel follows the humorous adventures of a boy named Jack Gantos, grounded "for life'' by his parents and prone to the most gushing nosebleeds. But he is restored by the stories he learns about his hometown, Norvelt, a planned community in Pennsylvania founded during the Great Depression.
The author is more than a little like the Jack Gantos of his book. He spent part of his childhood in Norvelt and shares his character's sensitive nose. Gantos said he thought of "Dead End'' after giving a eulogy for his aunt that looked back on Norvelt's special past.
"I talked about the spirit of people helping people, and how people really banded together,'' Gantos said during a telephone interview from his home in Boston. "And at the end of my eulogy, a lot of people came up to me and said they didn't know about the history of Norvelt. I love history, and I love humor, so I thought history could use a little humor.''