Kiddosphere: And the Medal Goes To – 2017 Newbery, Caldecott and More

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Why did youth services and school librarians across the country wake up super energized, excited (and probably caffeinated) on Monday morning? For the announcement of the Youth Media Awards! Not only are the Newbery and Caldecott medals and honor books announced, but other really awesome book awards are announced. While the number of awards presented are too numerous to go into detail (or to include them all), here are the highlights of this year’s announcements!

John Newbery Award

First presented in 1922, this is the oldest award for “the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.” Authors must be citizens or residents of the United States.

Medal: The Girl Who Drank the Moon

Honor books: Freedom Over Me; The Inquisitor’s Tale; and Wolf Hollow

I did not have a clear favorite for the Newbery this year; I haven’t even read the medal winner, so I have some catching up to do! That being said, I would have liked to see All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook receive a nod.

Randolph Caldecott Medal

First presented in 1938, this award is presented to the “artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.” As with the Newbery, recipients must be American citizens or residents.

Medal: Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat

Honor books: Leave Me Alone; Freedom in Congo Square; Du Iz Tak?; and They All Saw a Cat

For personal reasons, much of my reading in the middle part of 2016 was picture books, nonfiction picture books and graphic novels. Therefore, I had a ton of favorites for the Caldecott, only one of which received an honor (Freedom in Congo Square). However, we didn’t order “Radiant Child” and the other Honor books until after Christmas, so I haven’t read these yet! “They All Saw a Cat”is still on backorder, so we’re just as impatient to read that as you might be. Quite sorry that Emma and Julia Love Ballet, Coyote Moon, Miracle Man, The Night Gardener, or The Water Princess were not recognized.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that I think March: Book Three is an amazing conclusion to a modern classic graphic novel series. So did a bunch of the committees: it received the Printz (for YA literature), the Coretta Scott King Author award, the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Adults, and the Sibert Medal (for nonfiction), as well as the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature late last year. While I think the second volume is the superior title in the trilogy (the final pages are stunning), I’m super glad that graphic novels are finally being taken seriously for major literature awards (in the past several years, we’ve seen graphic novels receive Honor titles, but never main medals). I wish we had a better name for graphic novels that are actually nonfiction, but no one seems to have come up with a good way to identify them.

While we’re talking about nonfiction, let’s take a look at the Honor books for the Robert F. Sibert Award: Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor’s Story; Giant Squid; Uprooted: The Japanese American Experience During World War II; and We Will Not Be Silent: The White Rose Student Resistance Movement That Defied Adolf Hitler.

I’ve not yet read “Giant Squid” (an early January order!), but I’m always happy when a non-history title is recognized; as you can see, this award can be heavy on the history at times. I actually read “Sachiko” last week; it is a hard-hitting but inspiring account of a young girl who survived the atomic bomb explosion. “We Will Not Be Silent” is another outstanding title from nonfiction master Russell Freedman, who at at the age of 87 continues to find incredible stories from history to bring to life.

While not all of our favorites can be recognized, Youth Media Awards morning is always the best Monday morning of the year!

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library.

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