Kiddosphere: And the Winners Are….(2015 Youth Media Awards)
The Youth Media Awards were announced on February 2; as usual, there were some surprises! (Ahem.) Let’s get to them!
Schneider Family Award
About the award: “The Schneider Family Book Awards honor an author or illustrator for a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences.”
Children: Alan Rabinowitz and C’atia Chien for A Boy and a Jaguar
Middle School: Ann M. Martin for Rain Reign
Teen: Gail Giles for Girls Like Us
My verdict: I adore A Boy and a Jaguar. If you want an inspirational book about overcoming enormous obstacles, you need to read it. Rain Reign is an emotionally difficult read and not one of my favorites by Ann M. Martin (I’m a fan of her lengthy and distinguished career). Girls Like Us is a tremendous and emotionally gripping story featuring young adults with Down Syndrome. Overall, I can’t argue with these choices. Not going to lie to you–I felt a little verklempt when A Boy and a Jaguar and Girls Like Us were announced. Fabulous and important books.
Coretta Scott King Award
About the award: “…[T]he Coretta Scott King Book Awards annually recognize outstanding books for young adults and children by African American authors and illustrators that reflect the African American experience.”
Illustrator (Honor): Christian Robinson for Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker
My verdict: Sensational illustrations. And a great read as well.
(We will receive the co-honor Little Melba and Her Big Trombone shortly, along with Firebird, which won the Illustrator Medal.)
My verdict: Some people think that How I Discovered Poetry has been forgotten in the wake of the avalanche of praise and publicity for Brown Girl Dreaming; I agree, so I’m happy it was recognized in the CSK Awards. How it Went Down is a powerful and timely look at a community shattered by the death of one of its youth. I’ll discuss The Crossover later in this post.
Jacqueline Woodson for Brown Girl Dreaming
My verdict: Hardly a surprise. (I’m happy it won!) I’ll discuss Brown Girl Dreaming further in this post. That beautiful cover is now crowded with medal insignia.
The CSK/John Steptoe Award for New Talent went to Jason Reynolds for When I Was the Greatest, which is well deserved (you can read my review here.) Reynolds’s latest (just published!) book, The Boy in the Black Suit, is top on my to-be-read list.
William C. Morris Debut YA Award
About the award: “…honors a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens…”
Winner: Gabi, A Girl in Pieces
My verdict: Have not read, but will read ASAP.
YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction
About the award: “…honors the best nonfiction book published for young adults (ages 12-18)…”
Semifinalists (announced in December): Laughing at My Nightmare; The Family Romanov; Ida M. Tarbell: The Woman Who Challenged Big Business and Won; The Port Chicago 50
Winner: Popular: Vintage Wisdom From a Modern Geek
My verdict: Did not see that coming! Can’t wait to read it. The Family Romanov and The Port Chicago 50 are both amazing books, so I was surprised that this didn’t win.
Michael L Printz Award
About the award: “…an award for a book that exemplifies literary excellence in young adult literature.” Awarded since 2000, this is the top award for YA literature. Because it has so few criteria compared to other awards (it must be published for YA and can be fiction, nonfiction, poetry, or anthology; unlike the Newbery and Caldecott, books published in other countries and written by authors outside the United States can and have won Printz distinctions), it’s very difficult to predict.
Winner: I’ll Give You the Sun
My verdict: I was stunned when they announced the Printz…because we had the winner and three out of the four honor books already in our collection. That is rare, friends, because Printz committees are so unpredictable. And We Stay is a story that will stay with you for some time; it’s a mature YA title with lots of issues going on, but they are remarkably balanced. I know This One Summer has had a ton of love and is praised by many smart and knowledgeable people. I’m not feeling the love, though.
Pura Belpre Award
About the award: “…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.”
Illustrator Honor: Susan Guevara for Little Roja Riding Hood; John Parra for Green is a Chile Pepper; Duncan Tonatiuh for Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation
Illustrator Winner: Yuyi Morales for Viva Frida
Text Honor: Juan Felipe Herrera for Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes
Text Winner: Marjorie Agosin for I Lived on Butterfly Hill
My verdict: Viva Frida is remarkable; have not read the others! Will do so ASAP. (We;ll order the Text Winner ASAP.)
Mildred L. Batchelder Award
About the award: The Batchelder Award has one of the clunkiest award descriptions out there. Basically, it’s an award for books that 1) were originally published outside of the United States and 2) were originally published in a non-English language and later translated into English. The publisher is the official winner (the award is intended to encourage publishers to publish titles from other countries.)
Honor: First Second for Hidden: A Child’s Story of the Holocaust (translated from French); Enchanted Lion Books for Nine Open Arms (translated from Dutch; Enchanted Lion publishes many international titles and is well represented in this award’s history).
Winner: Eerdsman Books for Young Readers for Mikis and the Donkey (translated from Dutch; Eerdsman won this award in 2012 for Solider Bear, also by the same author/illustrator/translator of Mikis and the Donkey)
My verdict: Hidden is eye-opening. Haven’t read the others, so adding them to my list.
Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal
About the award: “…awarded annually to the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished informational book published in the United States in English during the preceding year.” This is another difficult one to predict. Memoirs/autobiographies, history, biography, science/nature, etc are all eligible, ranging from picture books to YA nonfiction, if they meet the initial criteria.
Honor: Jacqueline Woodson for Brown Girl Dreaming; Candace Fleming for The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, And the Fall of Imperial Russia; Patricia Hruby Powell and Christian Robinson for Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker; Katherine Roy for Neighborhood Sharks: Hunting With the Great Whites of California’s Farallon Islands; Duncan Tonatiuh for Separate is Not Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation
Winner: Jen Bryant and Melissa Sweet for The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus
My verdict: I LOVE The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus, so I was thrilled that it won. Gorgeous book. The honors are excellent choices.
Theodore Seuss Geisel Award
About the award: “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.” Books also must be a minimum of 22 pages, but not exceed 96 pages.
Honor: Cynthia Rylant and Arthur Howard for Mr. Putter & Tabby Turn the Page; Mo Willems for Waiting is Not Easy
Winner: Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant for You Are (Not) Small
My verdict: I…well….okay. I have not seen You Are (Not) Small, so will hold off on that. This award tends to be all over the place due to its criteria. Everything from picture books (that aren’t published as easy readers) to short chapter books have won. Has there been an Elephant and Piggie book that has not been named either an Honor or Winner? I’m glad the award exists, but wish there was a separate distinction for easy chapter books and easy reader/picture book. We’ll order the Mr. Putter and Tabby book soon.
About the award: “It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.” The illustrator must reside in the United States. Children is defined up to “14 years of age.”
Honor: Lauren Castillo for Nana in the City; Mary GrandPre for The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kadinsky’s Abstract Art; Jon Klassen for Sam & Dave Dig a Hole; Yuyi Morales for Viva Frida; Melissa Sweet for The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus; Jillian Tamaki for This One Summer
My verdict: I gee…I…well, this got the chit chat going on Twitter and the blogopsheres.
SIX HONORS. THOSE ARE A LOT OF HONORS.
This One Summer is quite a controversial choice. It’s a YA graphic novel that is quite mature. Really mature. Remember that the award is for illustration, and not just for a picture book. However–I can think of others that I wanted to be named.
Winner: Dan Santat for The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend
My verdict: Did you hear wailing and gnashing of teeth around 10:05 or so? That was me! Because I took a chance on not ordering the titles we didn’t have on the nominations list for ALSC’s Notable Children’s list in December and said,” I’ll order it when it’s finalized! Surely out of the many, many books we’ve ordered this year, we’ll have the winner!” Nope nope nope. So, guess who will be discovering the 2015 Caldecott Medal along with our patrons? MOI. *Waits impatiently*
And…This One Summer. Yes, according to the criteria, the committee met and delivered the criteria. There are no limits on the number of honor books and the eligibility of This One Summer is correct. The criteria does not mean that the book needs to encompass the broad range of “up to fourteen.” I’m not happy over its inclusion. I’m not the only one. I’m very disappointed that Beauty and the Beast and other titles were overlooked. That’s all I’ll say about the Caldecott for this year.
About the award: “It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.” Author must reside in the United States.
If you know the history of the Caldecott and the Newbery, you’ll understand why the creators of the awards insisted that the creators be American residents. At the time the Newbery was established in 1922, British children’s literature reigned supreme. If you think about what we consider classic children’s literature published before the 1940s, you’d probably be able to name more British titles than American titles. The Secret Garden. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Peter Pan. And so on. The American publishing industry needed a way to focus attention and awareness of American children’s literature and to encourage authorship of children’s literature in the States (and then named this award after a British bookseller, but that’s another story). And thus, the Newbery was born. Some folks have called for the residency requirement to be dropped, as American children’s authors and illustrators are popular worldwide (I can attest to that after browsing in an Italian bookstore two years ago), but don’t hold your breath.
Winner: Kwame Alexander for The Crossover
My verdict: WHEEEE! Hearing these titles announced was so, so lovely after the mixture of emotions I felt after hearing the Caldecott announcements. This.is.huge. Let’s talk about the honor books. Love, love, love, AND A GRAPHIC NOVEL. A graphic novel received an honor, when many, many people thought that Newbery committees would not be able to name a graphic novel. If you’re not familiar with El Deafo–it’s Cece Bell (a Virginia author!)’s memoir of growing up with hearing loss and having to wear a clunky and noticeable hearing aid.
Brown Girl Dreaming is exceptional, but I’m not disappointed that it received an Honor. (Jacqueline Woodson won the National Book Award, the Coretta Scott King Award, and is a New York Times bestselling author for this book. She’ll be fine. This is her fourth Newbery honor.)
And The Crossover? Let me tell you why I’m ecstatic that it won. First of all, it’s not a 400+ paged epic novel. (237 pages, people.) It’s not historical fiction or fantasy. It’s a book about basketball. Literary sports books represent! It’s a book about twin boys dealing with first crushes, friendship issues, sibling issues, finding their own identity, and growing up in a supportive and loving family. It deals with some serious and sad issues, but it’s totally believable. It’s a book that reluctant readers will want to read. It’s a book featuring African-American characters that is NOT historical fiction. It’s a coming of age story featuring middle school guys. It’s a coming of age story featuring African-American middle school guys. How often do we see that? Middle school guys, regardless of ethnicity? Rare. Middle school African-American teens? Even rarer.
And Kwame Alexander is also a Virginia author! Virginia authors rule the Newberys this year!
So! Overall, very happy about the awards. (I’ll just have to deal with the Caldecott.) I have a TON of reading to do!
I recently blogged about books for science experiments at the ALSC blog. (Those posts are much, much shorter.)
Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library
For book lists, reviews and staff suggestions for children published prior to January 2015, visit Kiddosphere, our blog about children/young adult fiction and non-fiction.