On February 2nd, 2015 The American Library Association (ALA) announced the top books, video and audio books for children and young adults – including the Caldecott, Coretta Scott King, Newbery and Printz awards.
The John Newberry Medal is given for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature. The 2015 winner is The Crossover by Kwarne Alexander.
The Crossover is a novel in verse for grades 6–10: “With a bolt of lightning on my kicks . . .The court is SIZZLING. My sweat is DRIZZLING. Stop all that quivering. Cuz tonight I’m delivering,” announces dread-locked, 12-year old Josh Bell.
The Crossover is the story of twin brothers, Josh and Jordan, who are junior high basketball stars. Their father, a former professional ball player, is their coach and the assistant-principal, their mom, is their biggest supporter.
According to Kiera Parrott of the School Library Journal, “Underscoring the sports and the fraternal tension is a portrait of a family that truly loves and supports one another. Alexander has crafted a story that vibrates with energy and heart and begs to be read aloud. A slam dunk.”
Kwame Alexander has written 18 books, including Acoustic Rooster and His Barnyard Band; He Said, She Said, and Indigo Blume and the Garden City. Alexander is a publisher, playwright, screenwriter, musician, radio host and high school teacher.
The Randolph Caldecott Medal is given for the most outstanding picture book for children. The 2015 winner is The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend, illustrated by Dan Santat.
The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend is a story from the point of view of an imaginary friend waiting to be chosen. It’s for 3 to 6-year-olds.
From the Amazon description: “This magical story begins on an island far away where an imaginary friend is born.
He patiently waits his turn to be chosen by a real child, but when he is overlooked time and again, he sets off on an incredible journey to the bustling city, where he finally meets his perfect match and-at long last-is given his special name: Beekle.
New York Times bestselling and award-winning author and illustrator Dan Santat combines classic storytelling with breathtaking art, creating an unforgettable tale about friendship, imagination, and the courage to find one’s place in the world.”
The New York Times Book Review calls The Adventures of Beekle, “…a sweet, mind-bending, gumdrop of a tale,” and compares it to Where the Wild Things Are.
The Coretta Scott King Author Award recognizes an African-American author of outstanding books for children and young adults. The 2015 winner is Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson.
Woodson is considered to be one of today’s finest writers and Brown Girl Dreaming is the story of the author’s life in verse. The book is for children 10 and up.
Woodson is best known for Miracle Boys, which won the Coretta Scott King award in 2001, and her Newberry Honor Books: After Tupac and D Foster, Feathers, and Show Way. For her lifetime contribution as a children’s writer, Woodson won the Margaret Edwards Award in 2005.
Her most recent books are her novel, Beneath a Meth Moon, and her picture books, Each Kindness (Jane Addams Award Book) and This Is the Rope: A Story From the Great Migration.
The Newberry Medal Winner, The Crossover by Kwame Alexander was also recognized as a King Honor Book. For ages 12-16.
How I Discovered Poetry written by Marilyn Nelson and illustrated by Hadley Hooper ls a King Honor Book. For ages 6 and up.
And, finally, for 2015, How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon is a King Honor Book. For children 9 and up.
The Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award recognizes an African-American illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults. The 2015 winner is Firebird, illustrated by Christopher Myers. The book is written by Misty Copeland
Firebird is a book for 5 to 8-year-olds. This is Misty Copeland’s first picture book and it’s about a young ballerina who questions her ability and needs help building her confidence.
The School Library Journal says this book is “a poetic dialogue between an aspiring young dancer and the American Ballet Theater’s soloist comprises the text of this stunning picture book. ‘I was a dancer just like you,’ Misty tells her, ‘a dreaming shooting star of a girl/with work and worlds ahead.’ Copeland’s title role in Stravinsky’s The Firebird serves as the theme for Myer’s signature paint and collage illustrations, which feature full spreads bursting with color and excitement.”
The Schneider Family Book Award is for books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience.
The 2015 award winner is A Boy and a Jaguar written by Alan Rabinowitz and illustrated by Catia Chien. It is for children from 1 to 10.
A Boy and a Jaguar is a real-life story of a boy who grew up to be a wildlife conservationist and spokesperson for the Stuttering Foundation of America. As a boy, he loved animals, especially the great cats at the Bronx Zoo, but they made him sad. He wondered why all the animals were alone in their cages. Were they being punished?
But, most of all, Alan wanted to help them, to be their champion, to be their voice, but he stuttered uncontrollably—except when he talked to animals. Then he was fluent. Time Magazine calls Alan, “the Indiana Jones of wildlife conservation.”
Several of the awards above also award honor books, and The American Library Association gives other awards, including the following:
- The Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Author Award.
- The Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement.
- Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults.
- Alex Awards for the 10 best adult books that appeal to teen audiences.
- The Andrew Carnegie Medal for excellence in children’s video.
- The Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults.
For a complete list of awards and winners, see The American Library Association.
Peggy O’Mara is the editor and publisher of peggyomara.com. She was the editor and publisher of Mothering magazine from 1980 to 2011 and the editor-in-chief of Mothering.com from 1995 to 2012.. The author of Having a Baby Naturally; Natural Family Living; The Way Back Home; and A Quiet Place, Peggy has conducted workshops at Omega Institute, Esalen, La Leche League, and Bioneers. She is the mother of four and grandmother of three.