Sure, we may be mired in the dark days of winter, but you wouldn’t know it by the splash of color that saturated the American Library Association’s annual award presentation Monday — from the pastels on the pages of the picture books, to the two bronze medals that represent some of the highest honors in children’s literature.
Meg Medina’s Merci Suárez Changes Gears won this year’s Newbery Medal, awarded for the “most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.” Meanwhile, Sophie Blackall’s Hello Lighthouse won the Caldecott Medal, which goes to the artist behind the “most distinguished American picture book for children.”
It is the second Caldecott Medal for Blackall in just four years, as the illustrator also won in 2016 for her work on Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear.
The two medals headlined the ALA’s Youth Media Awards, the ceremony that regularly crowns the association’s midwinter meeting in Seattle, but these awards were by no means the only ones handed out.
In fact, more than a dozen other prizes got distributed.
That includes the Michael L. Printz Award, which went to Elizabeth Acevedo’s The Poet X for young adult literature; the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for work geared toward beginning readers, which was awarded to Corey R. Tabor’s Fox the Tiger; and the Coretta Scott King Awards, which celebrate the best works by African-American authors and illustrators celebrating the black experience.
The latter award, which was named for the activist and wife of Martin Luther King Jr., is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
Newbery Medal: Merci Suárez Changes Gears, by Meg Medina.
Caldecott Medal: Hello Lighthouse, illustrated and written by Sophie Blackall.
Theodor Seuss Geisel Award (for “the most distinguished American book for beginning readers”): Fox the Tiger, written and illustrated by Corey R. Tabor.
Children’s Literature Legacy Award (for an author or illustrator whose books “over a period of years, a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children through books that demonstrate integrity and respect for all children’s lives and experiences”): Walter Dean Myers.
Excellence in Early Learning Digital Media (for “distinguished digital media for an early learning audience”): Play and Learn Science, produced by PBS Kids.
Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal (for “the most distinguished informational book”): The Girl Who Drew Butterflies: How Maria Merian’s Art Changed Science, by Joyce Sidman.
Mildred L. Batchelder Award (for the publisher of the most outstanding books originating in a country other than the U.S. and in a language other than English, later translated and published in the U.S.): The Fox on the Swing, published by Thames & Hudson, written by Evelina Daciūtė, illustrated by Aušra Kiudulaitė, and translated from Lithuanian by the Translation Bureau.
May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Award (selecting an honoree “who shall prepare a paper considered to be a significant contribution to the field of children’s literature”): Neil Gaiman.
Pura Belpré Award (for “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”):
- Illustration: Dreamers, illustrated and written by Yuyi Morales
- Text: The Poet X, by Elizabeth Acevedo
Michael L. Printz Award (for “the best book written for teens, based entirely on its literary merit”): The Poet X, by Elizabeth Acevedo.
Excellence in Nonfiction Award (for “the best nonfiction book published for young adults — ages 12-18”): The Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian Refugees, by Don Brown.
William C. Morris Award (for work “published by a first-time author writing for teens and celebrating impressive new voices in young adult literature”): Darius the Great is Not Okay, by Adib Khorram.
Odyssey Award (for the “best audiobook produced for children and/or young adults, available in English in the U.S.”): Sadie, produced by Macmillan Audio, written by Courtney Summers, narrated by Rebecca Soler, Fred Berman, Dan Bittner, Gabra Zackman and more.
Margaret A. Edwards Award (for “significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature”): M.T. Anderson.
Coretta Scott King Book Awards (for “books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values”):
- Author award: A Few Red Drops: The Chicago Race Riot of 1919, by Claire Hartfield
- Illustrator award: The Stuff of Stars, illustrated by Ekua Holmes, written by Marion Dane Bauer
- Virginia Hamilton Award (lifetime achievement): Pauletta Brown Bracy
- John Steptoe Award for New Talent (Illustrator): Thank You, Omu!, by Oge Mora
- John Steptoe Award for New Talent (Author): Monday’s Not Coming, by Tiffany D. Jackson
Stonewall Book Awards (for work of “exceptional merit relating to the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender experience”):
- Children: Julian is a Mermaid, by Jessica Love
- Young adult: Hurricane Child, by Kheryn Callender
Schneider Family Book Award (for “a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences”):
- Children: Rescue & Jessica: A Life-Changing Friendship, written by Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes, illustrated by Scott Magoon
- Middle grade: The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle, by Leslie Connor
- Teen: Anger Is a Gift, by Mark Oshiro
Sydney Taylor Book Award (for “outstanding books for children and teens that authentically portray the Jewish experience”):
- Young readers: All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah, written by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Paul Zelinsky
- Older readers: Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster, by Jonathan Auxier
- Teen readers: What the Night Sings, by Vesper Stamper
Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association Award for Literature (for outstanding “work about Asian/Pacific Americans and their heritage”):
- Picture book: Drawn Together, written by Minh Le, illustrated by Dan Santat
- Children’s literature: Front Desk, by Kelly Yang
- Young adult literature: Darius the Great is Not Okay, by Adib Khorram