You probably know by now that the Newbery, Caldecott, Prince, Coretta Scott King, Stonewall, and other ALA awards were announced at the beginning of February. Here is a quick break down of some of our favorites from this year's list of winners.
John Newbery winner
Coretta Scott King honor
John Newbery Medal
The Newbery Medal is awarded annually to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. The award is administered by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
Written in verse that reads like a spoken word event, The Crossover is a fantastic book about family, growing up, and sports. Growing up is always complicated, but it's even more difficult when your identical twin brother is moving a little faster than you. The Crossover will inspire readers of all ages to play with words, not just sounds and rhythm, but also the look and layout of fonts. Highly recommended!
Alex Award winner
The Alex Awards are given to ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18. The award is administered by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), a division of the American Library Association.
Anthony Doerr's wonderful novel, All the Light We Cannot See, weaves together the story of two characters: a blind girl, Marie Laure, who, with her father, flees Paris in advance of the German occupiers, and Werner, a young German orphan, who believes his survival is assured by joining the Hitler Youth. Marie Laure's father, Henri, is the keeper of the keys for the Paris Museum and may have been entrusted with the museum's most valuable possession, The Sea of Flames, a rare but cursed diamond. Father and daughter seek sanctuary with Henri's uncle on the city-island of Saint-Malo.
Doerr depicts the evil, horror and lasting effects of war on a civilian population. Yet his novel also lifts us above this horror, showing us that there can be light, and therefore hope, even in the darkest times. We wholeheartedly recommend this beautifully written novel whose characters will remain with the reader long after the final page is turned. A fantastic crossover book for teens who enjoy complex characters and historical fiction.
Coretta Scott King winner
Robert F. Sibert
Informational Book Medal
Coretta Scott King Book Awards
The Coretta Scott King Book Awards are given annually to outstanding African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values. The award is administered by the American Library Association's Ethnic and Multicultural Exchange Round Table (EMIERT).
Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal
The Robert F. Sibert honors illustrator(s) of the most distinguished informational book published in the United States in English during the preceding year. The award is administered by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
Every child who has ever striven to keep up, to make a mark, to understand the world, can identify with Woodson's memoir of growing up African American in Ohio, South Carolina, and New York during the 1960s and 70s. It is written in verse whose very brevity gives a piercing point to some passages, a soft blanket of familiar family rituals to others, and a warm glow to the ordinary seasons and Saturdays of childhood. From about age 4 Woodson had the urge to write and tell stories. That urge grew like a limb of her body. Today her books are beloved, and her voice is respected.
Michael L. Printz Award
The Michael L. Printz Award is an award for a book that exemplifies literary excellence in young adult literature. It is named for a Topeka, Kansas school librarian who was a long-time active member of the Young Adult Library Services Association. The award is administered by the Young Adult Library Services Association, a division of the American Library Association, and sponsored by Booklist.
Stonewall Book Award - Mike Morgan Larry Romans Children's Young Adult Literature Award
Stonewall Book Award - Mike Morgan Larry Romans Children's Young Adult Literature Award is given annually to English-language works of exceptional merit for children or teens relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender experience. The award is administered by the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table of the American Library Association.
Siblings, rivalry, art, and family secrets are the core of this story. Twins Jude and Noah both narrate the story, but from opposite sides of a major event that has fractured their relationship, seemingly irrevocably. Noah narrates the events of their early teens; Jude narrates their 18th year. Both brother and sister are missing significant pieces of the other one's story and therefore neither is able to bridge the gulf that has developed between them: a gulf that has somehow transformed fun, extroverted Jude into a recluse, and private, artistic Noah into a reckless kid who parties rather than paints. Jude and Noah need each other, but first they each need to figure out how to save themselves.
Michael L. Printz honor
You just never know what you're going to get with Andrew Smith's books (Winger), and Grasshopper Jungle is no exception. This novel is pure GMO-run-amok fun. Combining it with teenage boy humor is genius, and I laughed myself silly while reading it. It is FUN, and, as I've mentioned before, I'm always looking for something that might appeal to a teenage boy, especially reluctant readers. Teenage boys crack me up, because they are so out there, open, honest, and unapologetic. There are some serious issues in this novel too (besides the bugs): sexual orientation, poverty, missing family members, bullying, prejudice, but Grasshopper Jungle is certainly never preachy.
Odyssey Award recipient
The Odyssey Award is given annually to the producer of the best audiobook produced for children and/or young adults, available in English in the United States. The award is administered by the Association for Library Service to Children Young Adult Library Services Association, divisions of the American Library Association, and is sponsored by Booklist.
Felicity Pickle has spent most of her life on the move. Mama is restless and doesn't like to stay in one place for too long. When Mama, Felicity, and younger sister Frannie Jo drive in to Midnight Gulch, Felicity can't help thinking that maybe this time things will be different; maybe this time they'll stay. Felicity needs a miracle, but fortunately Midnight Gulch is a magic town, and everything is not always as it seems. Or at least it used to be a magic town, and Felicity, who can see words dancing through the world, is determined to help Midnight Gulch find its magic and help her family find their home. Filled with quirky and absolutely lovable characters, A Snicker of Magic is a book with heart, one not to be missed by anyone who appreciates that each person, and every town, has a story to tell. But mostly it's a book for anyone who understands the value of words -- and ice cream.
Odyssey Award recipient
Eight Cousins review:
A fun, and funny, romp about singing, dancing, and following your dreams. It's a combination of sweet, funny, and awkward.
Pura Belpre winner
Pura Belpré Awards
The Pura Belpré Award is presented annually to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth. The award is co-sponsored by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), and REFORMA, the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos and the Spanish-Speaking, an ALA affiliate.
I Lived on Butterfly Hill has been a favorite with some of our middle grade reviewers.
Randolph Caldecott honor
Randolph Caldecott Medal
The Randolph Caldecott Medal is awarded annually to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children. The award is administered by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
A delightful book, especially in the fall, Nana in the City is partly about family and partly about facing your fears. The story is also a reminder that sometimes everyone needs a change of perspective and that a super-hero cape can fix almost anything.
Isabelle Malenfant (illus.)
Stonewall Book Award - Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children's & Young Adult Literature Award is given annually to English-language works of exceptional merit for children or teens relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender experience. The award is administered by the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table of the American Library Association.
Morris loves the noises that the tangerine dress makes: "swish, swish, swish" when he walks and "crinkle, crinkle, crinkle" when he sits down. Some of the other kids make fun of Morris and his dress. When the teasing becomes too much and hurts his stomach, he needs a day away from school. However, in the comfort of his home complete with a supportive and encouraging mother, Morris finds solace in imagination and adventure. Enough so that he brings these tools back to school with him and teaches the other kids that what matters most is "where all the good adventures were hiding."
Theodore Seuss Geisel honor
The Geisel Award is given annually to the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished American book for beginning readers published in English in the United States during the preceding year. The award is administered by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
Elephant & Piggie books are just as much fun for adults reading along as they are for new readers. I've heard people say that the adult and child each take a character to read. What a fantastic idea! There is plenty of action and drama in the books and all participants will have fun acting out the various -- often extreme -- reactions. Waiting Is Not Easy! does justice to the series' reputation for humor and also comes with a gorgeous double-page spread of -- wait for it . . .
William C Morris honor
The William C Morris YA Debut Award, first awarded in 2009, honors a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens and celebrating impressive new voices in young adult literature. The award is administered by the Young Adult Library Services Association, a division of the American Library Association.
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender sparked a tremendous amount of discussion among booksellers about book categories and readers' ages. Some argued that this particular book was *not* YA (young adult), thus raising questions about what exactly YA is. In Ava Lavender, the main character is a teenager, but she doesn't appear in the story until about 75 pages in. Ava does narrate the story of her youth, but she is in her late 70s when she tells the story. The book, therefore, challenges the assumption that YA books are about teens. As far as content goes, there are frank references to sex -- it is a story about three generations of a family after all. Finally, the book raises questions about the intended readers, since it deals occasionally with middle age, married life, and parenting teens.
It is a cross-over book to be sure, but the more I heard people arguing that this particular book was *not* YA, the more convinced I became that it *was* YA. I would argue that it has to do with the book's tone. Ava, although a much older narrator, tells the story of her family and her youth in a very youthful way. And by youthful I mean that she doesn't always get bogged down by the details. She doesn't explain everything -- allowing the reader to fill in the gaps -- and she doesn't let emotions become overly burdensome. The story, as the title suggests, contains sorrows, but it is very light and free. Readers will walk away from this book feeling uplifted. The story is magical realism in the spirit of Isabel Allende (one of my favorite writers when I was a teen). The writing and characters are fantastically unusual, but its refusal to be pinned down in one particular category is precisely what makes this book worth reading.
Laura Ingalls Wilder Award
The Laura Ingalls Wilder Award honors an author or illustrator whose books, published in the United States, have made, over a period of years, a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children. The award is administered by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, and presented every two years.
Donald Crews's books are staples in our vehicles section. Freight Train is an excellent introduction to colors and School Bus will delight any toddler with school-aged siblings.
Margaret A. Edwards Award Sharon Draper
The Margaret A. Edwards Award, established in 1988, honors an author, as well as a specific body of his or her work, for significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature. The annual award is administered by the Young Adult Library Services Association, a division of the American Library Association. and sponsored by School Library Journal magazine.
The 2015 winner is Sharon M. Draper, author of more than 20 books, including: "Tears of a Tiger" (1994), "Forged by Fire" (1997), "Darkness Before Dawn" (2001), "Battle of Jericho" (2004), "Copper Sun" (2006), and "November Blues" (2007), all published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing.
You really can't go wrong with a Sharon Draper book. Although best known for Out of My Mind, her other novels are worth reading. She does write for both middle school and high school. If you're wondering about content and age appropriateness, ask us.
These books are just a few of this year's winners.
See the entire list at www.ilovelibraries.org.