Every year in January, the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) gives awards for outstanding children’s books. The awards include the John Newberry Medal, the Randolph Caldecott Medal, the Coretta Scott King Book Awards and the Robert F. Sibert Medal, among others. For a complete list, see the American Libraries Magazine.
JOHN NEWBERRY MEDAL
The Newberry Medal is given to the author of the most outstanding contribution to American literature for children.
Merci Suárez Changes Gears
by Meg Medina
Ages 9 to 12
Merci Suarez knew that sixth grade would be different, but she had no idea just how different. For starters, Merci has never been like the other kids at her private school in Florida, because she and her older brother, Roli, are scholarship students. They don’t have a big house or a fancy boat, and they have to do extra community service to make up for their free tuition. So when bossy Edna Santos sets her sights on the new boy who happens to be Merci’s school-assigned Sunshine Buddy, Merci becomes the target of Edna’s jealousy. Things aren’t going well at home, either. In a coming-of-age tale full of humor and wisdom, award-winning author Meg Medina gets to the heart of the confusion and constant change that defines middle school — and the steadfast connection that defines family.
NEWBERRY HONOR BOOKS
The Night Diary, written by Veera Hiranandani and published by Dial Books for Young Readers, Penguin Young Readers Group, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. (Ages 8 to 12)
The Book of Boy, written by Catherine Gilbert Murdock, illustrated by Ian Schoenherr and published by Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCo. (Ages 8 to 12)
RANDOLPH CALDECOTT MEDAL
The Caldecott Medal is awarded to the illustrator of the most distinguished American picture book for children.
A lavish new picture book that will transport readers to the seaside in timeless, nautical splendor! Watch the days and seasons pass as the wind blows, the fog rolls in, and icebergs drift by. Outside, there is water all around. Inside, the daily life of a lighthouse keeper and his family unfolds as the keeper boils water for tea, lights the lamp’s wick, and writes every detail in his logbook. Step back in time and through the door of this iconic lighthouse into a cozy dollhouse-like interior with the extraordinary award-winning artist Sophie Blackall.
CALDECOTT HONOR BOOKS
Alma and How She Got Her Name, illustrated and written by Juana Martinez-Neal and published by Candlewick Press. (Ages 4 to 8)
A Big Mooncake for Little Star, illustrated and written by Grace Lin and published by Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc. (Ages 5 to 6)
The Rough Patch, illustrated and written by Brian Lies and published by Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. (Ages 4 to 8)
Thank You, Omu!, illustrated and written by Oge Mora and published by Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc. (Ages 4 to 7)
CORETTA SCOTT KING AUTHOR AWARD
The Coretta Scott King Book Awards recognize an African American author of outstanding books for children and young adults.
A Few Red Drops: The Chicago Race Riot of 1919
by Claire Hartfield
Ages 12 and up
On a hot day in July 1919, five black youths went swimming in Lake Michigan, unintentionally floating close to the “white” beach. An angry white man began throwing stones at the boys, striking and killing one. Racial conflict on the beach erupted into days of urban violence that shook the city of Chicago to its foundations. This mesmerizing narrative draws on contemporary accounts as it traces the roots of the explosion that had been building for decades in race relations, politics, business, and clashes of culture. Includes archival photos and prints, source notes, bibliography, and index.
CORETTA SCOTT KING AUTHOR HONOR BOOKS
Finding Langston, written by Lesa Cline-Ransome and published by Holiday House. (Ages 8 to 12)
The Parker Inheritance, written by Varian Johnson and published by Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic Inc. (Ages 12 and up)
The Season of Styx Malone, written by Kekla Magoon and published by Wendy Lamb Books, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. (Ages 12 and up)
CORETTA SCOTT KING ILLUSTRATOR AWARD
Recognizing an African American illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults.
The Stuff of Stars
Illustrated by Ekua Holmes
Written by Marion Dane Bauer
Ages 4 to 8
An astonishing unfurling of our universe that celebrates the birth of every child. Before the universe was formed, before time and space existed, there was . . . nothing. But then . . . BANG! Stars caught fire and burned so long that they exploded, flinging stardust everywhere. And the ash of those stars turned into planets. Into our Earth. And into us. In a poetic text, Marion Dane Bauer takes readers from the trillionth of a second when our universe was born to the singularities that became each one of us, while vivid illustrations by Ekua Holmes capture the void before the Big Bang and the ensuing life that burst across galaxies. A seamless blend of science and art, this picture book reveals the composition of our world and beyond — and how we are all the stuff of stars.
CORETTA SCOTT KING ILLUSTRATOR HONOR BOOKS
Hidden Figures, illustrated by Laura Freeman, written by Margot Lee Shetterly and published by HarperCollins Children’s Books, a division of HarperCollins Publishers. (Ages 4 to 8)
Let the Children March, illustrated by Frank Morrison, written by Monica Clark-Robinson and published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. (Ages 6 to 9)
Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie, written by Alice Faye Duncan and published by Calkins Creek, an imprint of Highlights. (Ages 9 to 12)
SCHNEIDER FAMILY BOOK AWARDS
For books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience
Rescue & Jessica: A Life-Changing Friendship
written by Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes
illustrated by Scott Magoon
Ages 5 to 9
Based on a real-life partnership, the heartening story of the love and teamwork between a girl and her service dog will illuminate and inspire.
Rescue thought he’d grow up to be a Seeing Eye dog — it’s the family business, after all. When he gets the news that he’s better suited to being a service dog, he’s worried that he’s not up to the task. Then he meets Jessica, a girl whose life is turning out differently than the way she’d imagined it, too. Now Jessica needs Rescue by her side to help her accomplish everyday tasks. And it turns out that Rescue can help Jessica see after all: a way forward, together, one step at a time. An endnote from the authors tells more about the training and extraordinary abilities of service dogs, particularly their real-life best friend and black lab, Rescue.
SCHNEIDER FAMILY HONOR BOOKS AND OTHER WINNERS
The Remember Balloons written by Jessie Oliveros, illustrated by Dana Wulfekotte, a Simon & Schuster Books for Young Children. (Ages 5 to 9)
The Truth As Told by Mason Buttle, written by Leslie Connor and published by Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. (Ages 8 to 12).
The Collectors, written by Jacqueline West and published by Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. (Ages 8 to 12)
Anger Is a Gift, written by Mark Oshiro and published by A Tor Teen Book, Tom Doherty Associates. (Ages 13 to 18)
(Don’t) Call Me Crazy: 33 Voices Start the Conversation about Mental Health, edited by Kelly Jensen and published by Algonquin Young Readers, an imprint of Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, a division of Workman Publishing. (Ages 13 to 18)
THE PURA BELPRE’ AWARDS
Honoring a Latinx writer and illustrator whose children’s books best portray, affirm, and celebrate the Latino cultural experience.
THE PURA BELPRE’ ILLUSTRATOR AWARD WINNER
Illustrated and written by Yuyi Morales
Neal Porter Books
Ages 4 to8
In 1994, Yuyi Morales left her home in Xalapa, Mexico and came to the US with her infant son. She left behind nearly everything she owned, but she didn’t come empty-handed. She brought her strength, her work, her passion, her hopes and dreams…and her stories. Dreamers is a celebration of what migrantes bring with them when they leave their homes. It’s a story about family. And it’s a story to remind us that we are all dreamers, bringing our own gifts wherever we roam. The lyrical text is complemented by sumptuously detailed illustrations, rich in symbolism. A parallel Spanish-language edition, Soñadores, is also available.
THE PURA BELPRE’ ILLUSTRATOR HONOR BOOKS
Islandborn, illustrated by Leo Espinosa, written by Junot Díaz and published by Dial Books for Young Readers, Penguin Young Readers Group, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. (Ages 5 to 8)
When Angels Sing: The Story of Rock Legend Carlos Santana, illustrated by Jose Ramirez, written by Michael Mahin and published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division. (Ages 4 to 8)
THE PURA BELPRE’ AUTHOR AWARD WINNER
The Poet X
by Elizabeth Acevedo
This is a novel-in-verse by an award-winning slam poet, about an Afro-Latina heroine who tells her story with blazing words and powerful truth. Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers. When she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she doesn’t know how she could ever attend without her mami finding out. But she still can’t stop thinking about performing her poems. Because in the face of a world that may not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to be silent.
THE PURA BELPRE’ AUTHOR HONOR BOOK
They Call Me Güero: A Border Kid’s Poems, written by David Bowles and published by Cinco Puntos Press.
ROBERT F. SIBERT INFORMATIONAL BOOK AWARD
For the most distinguished informational book for children.
The Girl Who Drew Butterflies: How Maria Merian’s Art Changed Science
by Joyce Sidman
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Ages 10 to 12
Bugs, of all kinds, were considered to be “born of mud” and to be “beasts of the devil.” Why would anyone, let alone a girl, want to study and observe them? One of the first naturalists to observe live insects directly, Maria Sibylla Merian was also one of the first to document the metamorphosis of the butterfly. In this visual nonfiction biography, richly illustrated throughout with full-color original paintings by Merian herself, the Newbery Honor–winning author Joyce Sidman paints her own picture of one of the first female entomologists and a woman who flouted convention in the pursuit of knowledge and her passion for insects.
ROBERT F. SIBERT INFORMATIONAL HONOR BOOKS
Camp Panda: Helping Cubs Return to the Wild, written by Catherine Thimmesh and published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. (Ages 10 to 12)
Spooked!: How a Radio Broadcast and The War of the Worlds Sparked the 1938 Invasion of America, written by Gail Jarrow and published by Calkins Creek, an imprint of Highlights. (Ages 10 to 14)
The Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian Refugees, written and illustrated by Don Brown and published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. (Ages 12 and up)
We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga, written by Traci Sorell, illustrated by Frané Lessac, and published by Charlesbridge. (Ages 3 to 7)
When Angels Sing: The Story of Rock Legend Carlos Santana, written Michael Mahin, illustrated by Jose Ramirez, and published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division. (Ages 4 to 8)
STONEWALL BOOK AWARD WINNERS—MIKE MORGAN AND LARRY ROMANS CHILDREN’S AND YOUNG ADULT LITERATURE AWARD
For English-language children’s and young adult books of exceptional merit relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender experience.
Julián Is a Mermaid
by Jessica Love
Ages 4 to 8
An exuberant picture book, a glimpse of costumed mermaids leaves one boy flooded with wonder and ready to dazzle the world. While riding the subway home from the pool with his abuela one day, Julián notices three women spectacularly dressed up. Their hair billows in brilliant hues, their dresses end in fishtails, and their joy fills the train car. When Julián gets home, daydreaming of the magic he’s seen, all he can think about is dressing up just like the ladies in his own fabulous mermaid costume: a butter-yellow curtain for his tail, the fronds of a potted fern for his headdress. But what will Abuela think about the mess he makes — and even more importantly, what will she think about how Julián sees himself? Mesmerizing and full of heart, Jessica Love’s author-illustrator debut is a jubilant picture of self-love and a radiant celebration of individuality.
by Kheryn Callender
Ages 8 to
Caroline Murphy is a Hurricane Child. Being born during a hurricane is unlucky, and twelve-year-old Caroline has had her share of bad luck lately. She’s hated and bullied by everyone in her small school on St. Thomas of the US Virgin Islands, a spirit only she can see won’t stop following her, and—worst of all—Caroline’s mother left home one day and never came back. But when a new student named Kalinda arrives, Caroline’s luck begins to turn around. Kalinda, a solemn girl from Barbados with a special smile for everyone, becomes Caroline’s first and only friend — and the person for whom Caroline has begun to develop a crush. Now, Caroline must find the strength to confront her feelings for Kalinda, brave the spirit stalking her through the islands, and face the reason her mother abandoned her.
STONEWALL HONOR BOOKS
Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World, written by Ashley Herring Blake and published by Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc. (Ages 10 to 13)
Picture Us in the Light, written by Kelly Loy Gilbert and published by Hyperion, an imprint of Disney Book Group. (Ages 13 and up)
About Peggy O’Mara. I am an independent journalist who edits and publishes peggyomara.com. I was the editor and publisher of Mothering Magazine for over 30 years and founded Mothering.com in 1995. My books include Having a Baby Naturally, Natural Family Living, The Way Back Home and A Quiet Place. I have conducted workshops at Omega Institute, Esalen, La Leche League, and Bioneers. I am the mother of four and grandmother of three. Please check out my email newsletter with free tips on parenting, activism, and healthy living.