And this year’s winners are…
The Oscars© may be over, but we’re still excited about the awards given out over the last month for the best children’s books. Some awards are given after review by a panel of professionals, others are favorites voted on by schoolchildren.
The Caldecott Medal, the Newbery Medal, the Michael Printz Award, the Rebecca Caudill Award
These prestigious awards in children’s literature were announced last month by the American Library Association. Below are the winners and the runners up (Honor books).
The Caldecott Medal for Distinguished American Picture Book: Wolf in the Snow by Matthew Cordell.
Honor Books: Big Cat, Little Cat by Elisha Cooper, Crown, an Ode to the Fresh Cut illustrated by Gordon James, written by Derrick Barnes, A Different Pond, illustrated by Thi Bui, written by Bao Phi and Grand Canyon, illustrated and written by Jason Chin.
The Newbery Medal for Most Distinguished Contribution:
Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly. Grades 3-7
Filipino folklore and real life converge at the bottom of a well. Even while following signs and portents, the characters are the definition of creative agency. Masterfully told through shifting points of view, this modern quest tale shimmers with humor and authentic emotion.
Honor Books: Crown: an Ode to the Fresh Cut, written by Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Gordon C. James. In this vibrant picture book, a boy walks into a barbershop; a prince walks out. Through lyrical free verse, Derrick Barnes’ joyous paean celebrates the universal, transformative, confidence-building experience of a great haircut.
Long Way Down, written by Jason Reynolds. Terse, sharp verse depicts a desperate teenager seeking to avenge the shooting death of his brother. Gun tucked into his waistband, he is shocked by the appearance of childhood friends and relatives on a chilling sixty-second elevator ride. Visceral language and raw emotion result in a brief yet powerful novel of grief and vengeance for teens and adults.
Piecing Me Together, written by Renée Watson. Through artful and poetic language, Watson explores themes of race, class, gender and body image in this dynamic journey. A good pairing with the mega hit The Hate U Give. (see description below)
The Michael L. Printz Award is an award for a book that exemplifies literary excellence in young adult literature.
We Are Okay by Nina LaCour. California native Marin, devastated by grief and questioning her reality, plans to spend her winter break in an empty dorm in upstate New York. But now her best friend, Mabel, is on her way to visit, and Marin must confront the loneliness that is threatening to take over her heart.
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds (see description above)
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Traumatized after witnessing the violent death of a friend, Starr searches for her voice as she moves between her black neighborhood and predominantly white private school. This emotional novel, inspired by volatile race relations in America today, explores the importance of family, friendship, identity, and the courage to seek justice.
Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor. In a world of gods, monsters, and nightmares, orphan librarian Lazlo and goddess Sarai find each other in their dreams. Against the backdrop of a city reeling after a brutal war, this lushly built, extravagantly written tale explores vengeance, love, and mercy.
Vincent and Theo: the Van Gogh Brothers by Deborah Heiligman. Inspired by the more than 700 letters the Van Gogh brothers wrote to each other, Heiligman uncovers fresh insights into Vincent’s development as an artist and his relationship with the brother who supported him emotionally and financially throughout his life.
The Rebecca Caudill Award is voted upon by students in grade 5-8 from a list of curated fiction and nonfiction. This year’s top vote getter is A Night Divided by Jennifer A. Nielsen. With the rise of the Berlin Wall, twelve-year-old Gerta finds her family suddenly divided. She, her mother, and her brother Fritz live on the eastern side, controlled by the Soviets. Her father and middle brother, who had gone west in search of work, cannot return home. Gerta knows it is dangerous to watch the wall, but one day, while on her way to school, Gerta spots her father on a viewing platform on the western side, pantomiming a peculiar dance. She concludes that her father wants Gerta and Fritz to tunnel beneath the wall, out of East Berlin.
This year’s selections reflected the desire for cultural diversity in children’s books and other media. We encourage you and your children to read some of these outstanding stories.