February 12, 2018, was a very exciting day for children’s and teen librarians (as well as other youth literature aficionados) up and down the countryside. Why, you ask? Because it was the day that the American Library Association announced its annual Youth Media Awards!
Essentially, it is the Oscars® of the youth literature world. People wait with bated breath to see which books will earn bright, shiny award stickers for their covers and be set on the path toward relative immortality.
So, who won? A selected list of award winners and reviews is below. For the complete list, see the ALA Youth Media Awards website.
The John Newbery Medal for “the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature” went to:
Hello Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly
Ages 8 – 12 years
Virgil: shy, lonely (even with his guinea pig Gulliver around), trying to figure himself out. Kaori: self-assured seer who knows herself and the mystic secrets (assisted by little sister, Gen). Valencia: smart, brave, scientific explorer (who is also deaf). Chet: neighborhood bully, wants to be just like his dad (knows nothing about snakes). These four narrators alternate chapters to tell what happened that fateful day when Virgil fell afoul of Chet and got stuck in a hopeless place. Will the girls realize he’s gone and find him in time? Full of authentic, diverse young voices and moments of humor, bravery, and fear, this is a book no one should miss.
The John Newbery Honor Books are:
Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut written by Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Gordon C. James
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson
The Randolph Caldecott Medal for “the most distinguished American picture book for children” was awarded to:
Wolf in the Snow written and illustrated by Matthew Cordell
Ages 2 – 6 years
A girl leaves school just as a snowstorm is starting. Blinded by the same storm, a small wolf pup gets separated from its pack. Lost, they each blunder into each other. Will either find their way home? This beautiful story is told through sketchy, pen-and-ink drawings with watercolors – the only words are the animals’ sounds. The artwork perfectly complements this tale of kindness, bravery, and doing the right thing, even when it’s scary and hard.
The Randolph Caldecott Honor Books are:
Big Cat, Little Cat illustrated and written by Elisha Cooper
Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut illustrated by Gordon C. James, written by Derrick Barnes
A Different Pond illustrated by Thi Bui, written by Bao Phi
Grand Canyon illustrated and written by Jason Chin
The Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for “the most distinguished book for beginning readers” was earned by:
Charlie & Mouse by Laurel Snyder
Age: 4 – 8 years
Charlie and Mouse are a winsome pair of brothers, and this book (the first in a series) traces their imaginative daily adventures with simple yet funny word play and visual details. Each little chapter is its own semi-separate story, so it’s easy to put down and pick back up for your beginning-reader-on-the-go. A great choice for families looking for something with a similar flavor to the “Frog and Toad” series, except maybe a bit easier. Truly charming.
The Geisel Honor Books are:
I See A Cat written and illustrated by Paul Meisel
King & Kayla and the Case of the Missing Dog Treats written by Dori Hillestad Butler, illustrated by Nancy Meyers
My Kite is Stuck! And Other Stories written and illustrated by Salina Yoon
Noodleheads See the Future written by Tedd Arnold, Martha Hamilton and Mitch Weiss, illustrated by Tedd Arnold
Snail & Worm Again written and illustrated by Tina Kügler
The Schneider Family Book Award is “for books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience.”
The Award winner for young children (ages 0 – 8) is:
Silent Days, Silent Dreams written and illustrated by Allen Say
Ages 8 – up
This graphic-novel style fictional biography imagines the early life of James Castle, an artist who was born two months premature in 1899. Castle was deaf, mute, probably autistic, and he never learned how to communicate via speech or sign language. Instead, he taught himself how to make art in his own unique style, to visually show how he saw the world. Allen Say’s artwork closely mimics Castle’s oeuvre while relating this interpretation of his story. Thought-provoking and evocative – this one is certain to be a conversation starter.
The Award winner for middle grade (ages 9 – 13) is:
Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess written by Shari Green
And the Award winner for teens (ages 14 – 18) is:
You’re Welcome, Universe written and illustrated by Whitney Gardner
Other children’s literature awards given out by the American Library Association include:
Coretta Scott King Book Awards recognizing African American authors and illustrators of outstanding books for children and young adults.
Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award to affirm new talent.
Pura Belpré Awards honoring Latino writers and illustrators whose children’s books best portray, affirm and celebrate the Latino cultural experience.
Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award for most distinguished informational book for children.
Stonewall Book Award–Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children’s & Young Adult Literature Award given annually to English-language children’s and young adult books of exceptional merit relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender experience.
So, if you’re looking for good, up-to-date reading materials, please visit the ALA website for past and present winners.