Author-illustrator Jerry Craft typically turns his phone off when he goes to bed. But the night before the ALA Award announcements, he decided to leave it on “just in case. I had seen quite a few mock Newberys—sometimes I’d be the winner, sometimes I’d be an Honor, that kind of thing. I was cautiously optimistic.” By 6:30 the next morning, just when Craft had given up hope of receiving the call, the Newbery Committee rang to say that his graphic novel New Kid had been chosen as winner of the 2020 Newbery Medal.
On Sunday night, Kadir Nelson turned off the ringer on his phone and planned to sleep in. When his wife awakened him to suggest he check his text messages it was already 10 a.m. in California—nearly five hours after the rest of the world had learned that The Undefeated, an ode written by Kwame Alexander and illustrated by Nelson, had won the 2020 Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children.
A.S. King played a round of phone tag before she finally connected with the Michael L. Printz Committee, which revealed that her YA novel, Dig, had been selected to receive the 2020 Printz Award. What happened next is a bit fuzzy in King’s memory. “I don’t remember exactly what I said,” she noted. “I know I probably cursed first and then rattled, ‘Get out! No way! You’re kidding! What?’ ”