Every year librarians, book lovers, publishers and book sellers look forward to the youth and teen book awards announced at the annual American Library Association conference. This year the awards were announced from Boston in a room filled with hundreds of insanely excited librarians - who gasp, groan and scream throughout the entire ceremony. The two oldest awards, and the most widely known are the Newbery and Caldecott awards.
The Caldecott Medal was named in honor of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. Awarded annually since 1938 by the Association for Library Service to Children to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.
The 2016 Caldecott winner is Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear, illustrated by Sophie Blackall, written by Lindsay Mattick. Finding Winnie is an incredible account of the friendship and love shared between a soldier and the real bear who inspired Winnie-the-Pooh. Blackall beautifully interprets this multi-dimensional family story through her distinctive Chinese ink and watercolor art, capturing intimate and historical details perfect for a child’s eye.
Four books were chosen as Caldecott Honor titles:
Waiting, illustrated and written by Kevin Henkes. Waiting delivers an intimate story of five figurines, each anticipating the wonder of everyday moments. Using rich brown lines and a soft pastel palette, Henkes invites young readers to slow down and explore a range of emotions in a world on a windowsill.
Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement, illustrated by Ekua Holmes, written by Carole Boston Weatherford. In this biography in verse, Ekua Holmes’ illustrations provide children with an intensely visual encounter with Civil Rights icon Fannie Lou Hamer. The repetition of colors and motifs within the richly layered collage create complex images that capture Hamer’s power and bravery.
Last Stop on Market Street, illustrated by Christian Robinson and written by Matt de la Peña. Readers are transported, along with a young boy and his grandmother, on a journey through the city. Robinson’s illustrations, a colorful mix of acrylic paint and collage, feel both vintage and fresh. The diversity, vibrancy, and beauty of the urban setting are celebrated as CJ and Nana share meaningful moments together.
The Newbery Medal was named for eighteenth-century British bookseller John Newbery. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.
The 2016 Newbery Medal Winner is Last Stop on Market Street, written by Matt de la Peña, illustrated by Christian Robinson. CJ’s journey with his Nana is not just a simple bus ride; it is a multi-sensory experience through which he discovers that beautiful music, nature and people surround him. CJ’s questions are familiar, and Nana answers him with gentle wisdom. Right up until their arrival at the last stop on Market Street, Nana guides CJ to become “a better witness for what’s beautiful.”
Three books were chosen as Newbery Honor titles:
The War that Saved my Life, by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. Bradley’s powerful plot, remarkably drawn characters and sparse language are outstanding components of this novel about courage, community and conviction.
Roller Girl, written and illustrated by Victoria Jamieson. Astrid falls in love with roller derby and learns how to be tougher, stronger and fearless. Jamieson perfectly captures the highs and lows of growing up in this dynamic graphic novel.
Echo, by Pam Muñoz Ryan. This original fairytale intertwines with historical fiction to explore music and its power to save, heal and set free.