Jerry Craft has won the 2020 John Newbery Medal for New Kid (HarperCollins), edited by Andrew Eliopulos. Kadir Nelson has won the 2020 Randolph Caldecott Medal for The Undefeated (HMH/Versify), written by Kwame Alexander, edited by Margaret Raymo. And A.S. King won the 2020 Michael L. Printz Award for Dig (Dutton), edited by Andrew Karre. The awards were announced Monday morning at the American Library Association’s midwinter conference in Philadelphia.
It’s the first time that a graphic novel has won the Newbery Award, which was founded in 1922. And it’s the first Caldecott Award for Nelson, who won back-to-back Caldecott Honors in 2007 and 2008, for Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom and Henry’s Freedom Box: A True Story from the Underground Railroad. It’s also a first Printz Award for King, who won a Printz Honor in 2011, for Please Ignore Vera Dietz.
Four Newbery Honor Books were named: The Undefeated, written by Kwame Alexander, illustrated by Kadir Nelson (HMH/Versify); Scary Stories for Young Foxes, written by Christian McKay Heidicker, illustrated by Junyi Wu (Holt); Other Words for Home, written by Jasmine Warga (HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray); and Genesis Begins Again, written by Alicia D. Williams (Atheneum/Dlouhy).
There were three Caldecott Honor Books: Bear Came Along, illustrated by LeUyen Pham, written by Richard T. Morris (Little, Brown); Double Bass Blues, illustrated by Rudy Gutierrez, written by Andrea J. Loney (Knopf,); and Going Down Home with Daddy, illustrated by Daniel Minter, written by Kelly Starling Lyons (Peachtree).
Four Printz Honor Books were named: The Beast Player by Nahoko Uehashi, translated by Cathy Hirano (Holt/Godwin); Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Rosemary Valero-O’Connell (First Second); Ordinary Hazards: A Memoir by Nikki Grimes (Wordsong); and Where the World Ends by Geraldine McCaughrean (Flatiron).
The Robert F. Sibert Award for the most distinguished informational book for children went to Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard, illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal (Roaring Brook). There were four Sibert Honors: All in a Drop: How Antony van Leeuwenhoek Discovered an Invisible World by Lori Alexander, illustrated by Vivien Mildenberger (HMH); This Promise of Change: One Girl’s Story in the Fight for School Equality by Jo Ann Allen Boyce and Debbie Levy (Bloomsbury); Ordinary Hazards: A Memoir by Nikki Grimes (Wordsong); and Hey, Water! by Antoinette Portis (Holiday House/Porter).
The Children’s Literature Legacy Award (formerly known as the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award), which honors an author or illustrator whose books have made a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children, was given to Kevin Henkes, who has won the Caldecott Medal, two Caldecott Honors, and two Newbery Honors.
The 2020 Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults was given to Steve Sheinkin, and Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop was chosen to deliver the 2021 ALSC Children’s Literature Lecture Award (formerly known as the May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture), which recognizes an author, critic, librarian, historian, or teacher of children’s literature.
The Mildred L. Batchelder Award for best work of translation went to Brown, originally published in Norwegian as Brune, written by Håkon Øvreås, illustrated by Øyvind Torseter, and translated by Kari Dickson (Enchanted Lion).
Four Batchelder Honor Books were chosen: The Beast Player by Nahoko Uehashi, illustrated by Yuta Onoda, translated from the Japanese by Cathy Hirano (Holt/Godwin); The Distance Between Me and the Cherry Tree by Paola Peretti, illustrated by Carolina Rabei, translated from the Italian by Denise Muir (Atheneum); Do Fish Sleep? by Jens Raschke, illustrated by Jens Rassmus, translated from the German by Belinda Cooper (Enchanted Lion); and When Spring Comes to the DMZ by Uk-Bae Lee, translated from the Korean by Chungyon Won and Aileen Won (Plough).
The William C. Morris Award, for a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens, was given to The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Philippe (HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray). Four other finalists were announced in December: The Candle and the Flame by Nafiza Azad (Scholastic Press); Frankly in Love by David Yoon (Putnam); Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams (Atheneum/Dlouhy); and There Will Come a Darkness by Katy Rose Pool (Holt).
The Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for most distinguished beginning reader book went to Stop! Bot! by James Yang (Viking). There were three Geisel Honor Books: Chick and Brain: Smell My Foot! by Cece Bell (Candlewick); Flubby Is Not a Good Pet! by J.E. Morris (Penguin Workshop); and The Book Hog by Greg Pizzoli (Disney-Hyperion).
The YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults went to Free Lunch by Rex Ogle (Norton Young Readers). Four other finalists were previously announced: The Great Nijinsky: God of Dance by Lynn Curlee (CharlesbridgeTeen); A Light in the Darkness: Janusz Korczak, His Orphans, and the Holocaust by Albert Marrin (Knopf); A Thousand Sisters: The Heroic Airwomen of the Soviet Union in World War II by Elizabeth Wein (HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray); and Torpedoed: The True Story of the World War II Sinking of ‘The Children’s Ship’ by Deborah Heiligman (Holt).
This year’s Coretta Scott King–Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement was given to Mildred D. Taylor, author of the Logan Family saga, which concluded this month with the release of All the Days Past, All the Days to Come (Viking).
New Kid by Jerry Craft (HarperCollins) won the Coretta Scott King Author Award, and the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award went to The Undefeated, illustrated by Kadir Nelson and written by Kwame Alexander (HMH/Versify).
Three King Author Honor Books were selected: The Stars and the Blackness Between Them by Junauda Petrus (Dutton); Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia (Disney/Riordan); and Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks by Jason Reynolds (Atheneum/Dlouhy).
Three King Illustrator Honor Books were chosen: The Bell Rang by James E. Ransome (Atheneum/Dlouhy); Infinite Hope: A Black Artist’s Journey from World War II to Peace by Ashley Bryan (Atheneum/Dlouhy); and Sulwe, illustrated by Vashti Harrison, written by Lupita Nyong’o (Simon & Schuster).
The Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Author Award went to Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams (Atheneum/Dlouhy). What Is Given from the Heart, illustrated by April Harrison and written by Patricia C. McKissack (Random House/Schwartz and Wade) won the Steptoe Illustrator Award.
The Pura Belpré Awards, honoring a Latinx writer and illustrator whose children’s books best portray, affirm, and celebrate the Latino cultural experience, went to Dancing Hands: How Teresa Carreño Played the Piano for President Lincoln, illustrated by Rafael López, written by Margarita Engle (Atheneum) for the Illustrator Award; and Sal and Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez (Disney/Riordan) for the Author Award.
Three Belpré Illustrator Honor Books were named: Across the Bay by Carlos Aponte (Penguin Workshop); My Papi Has a Motorcycle, illus. by Zeke Peña, written by Isabel Quintero (Penguin/Kokila); and ¡Vamos! Let’s Go to the Market by Raúl the Third (HMH/Versify). Four Belpré Author Honor Books were named: Lety Out Loud by Angela Cervantes (Scholastic Press); The Other Half of Happy by Rebecca Balcárcel (Chronicle); Planting Stories: The Life of Librarian and Storyteller Pura Belpré, written by Anika Aldamuy Denise, illus. by Paola Escobar (HarperCollins); and Soldier for Equality: José de la Luz Sáenz and the Great War by Duncan Tonatiuh (Abrams).
For the first time, the American Indian Youth Literature award, which identifies and honors the best writing and illustrations by and about American Indians, was presented at ALA Midwinter. The award is administered by the American Indian Library Association, an affiliate of the American Library Association, and is announced in even years. The 2020 Picture Book winner is Bowwow Powwow: Bagosenjige-niimi’idim, written by Brenda J. Child (Red Lake Ojibwe), translated into Ojibwe by Gordon Jourdain (Lac La Croix First Nation), and illustrated by Jonathan Thunder (Red Lake Ojibwe (Minnesota Historical Society Press).
Five Picture Book Honor titles have been chosen: Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story, written by Kevin Noble Maillard (Seminole Nation, Mekusukey Band), illustrated by Juana Martínez-Neal (Peruvian-American) (Roaring Brook); Birdsong, written and illustrated by Julie Flett (Cree-Métis) (Greystone Kids); At the Mountain’s Base, written by Traci Sorell (Cherokee), illustrated by Weshoyot Alvitre (Tongva/Scots-Gaelic) (Penguin/Kokila); We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga, written by Traci Sorell (Cherokee), illustrated by Frané Lessac (Charlesbridge); and Raven Makes the Aleutians, adapted from a traditional Tlingit story and illustrated by Janine Gibbons (Haida, Raven of the Double-Finned Killer Whale clan, Brown Bear House) (Sealaska Heritage).
The Middle Grade Book winner is Indian No More, written by Charlene Willing McManis (Umpqua/Confederated Tribes of Grande Ronde) with Traci Sorell (Cherokee), featuring cover art by Marlena Myles (Spirit Lake Dakota, Mohegan, Muscogee Creek) (Lee & Low/Tu Books). The two Middle Grade Book Honor titles are I Can Make This Promise, written by Christine Day (Upper Skagit), with cover art by Michaela Goade (Tlingit, Kiks.ádi clan, Steel House) (HarperCollins); and The Grizzly Mother, written by Hetxw’ms Gyetxw (“Brett D. Huson,” Gitxsan), illustrated by Natasha Donovan (Métis Nation of British Columbia) (Highwater).
The Young Adult Book winner is Hearts Unbroken, written by Cynthia Leitich Smith (Muscogee) (Candlewick). Four Young Adult Book Honor titles have been chosen: Surviving the City, written by Tasha Spillett (Nehiyaw-Trinidadian), illustrated by Natasha Donovan (Métis Nation of British Columbia) (Highwater Press); Reawakening Our Ancestors’ Lines: Revitalizing Inuit Traditional Tattooing, gathered and compiled by Angela Hovak Johnston (Inuk), with photography by Cora De Vos (Inuk) (Inhabit); An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States for Young People, written by Debbie Reese (Nambé Owingeh) and Jean Mendoza, adapted from the adult book by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz (Beacon Press); and Apple in the Middle, written by Dawn Quigley (Ojibwe, Turtle Mountain Band) (North Dakota State University Press).
The Stonewall Book Award, given to children’s and YA books of exceptional merit relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender experience, went to two books: When Aidan Became a Brother by Kyle Lukoff, illus. by Kaylani Juanita (Lee & Low) and The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta, illus. by Anshika Khullar (Hodder). There were three Stonewall Honor Books: Pet by Akwaeke Emezi (Random House/Make Me a World); Like a Love Story by Abdi Nazemian (HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray); and The Best at It by Maulik Pancholy (HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray).
The Sydney Taylor Book Award for outstanding books for young readers that authentically portray the Jewish experience are presented by the Association of Jewish Libraries. This year’s winners are The Book Rescuer: How a Mensch from Massachusetts Saved Yiddish Literature for Generations to Come, written by Sue Macy, illus. by Stacy Innerst (S&S/Wiseman), for Picture Books; White Bird: A Wonder Story by R.J. Palacio (Knopf), for Older Readers; and Someday We Will Fly by Rachel DeWoskin (Viking), for Young Adult.
Six Sydney Taylor Honor Books were also chosen. For Picture Books, the Honor Books were Gittel’s Journey, written by Lesléa Newman, illustrated by Amy June Bates (Abrams); and The Key from Spain: Flory Jagoda and Her Music, written by Debbie Levy, illustrated by Sonja Wimmer (Kar-Ben). For Middle Grade, the two honor books were Anya and the Dragon by Sofiya Pasternack (HMH/Versify; and Games of Deception: The True Story of the First U.S. Olympic Basketball Team at the 1936 Olympics in Hitler’s Germany by Andrew Maraniss (Philomel). And two Young Adult honor books were selected: Dissenter on the Bench: Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s Life and Work by Victoria Ortiz (Clarion); and Sick Kids in Love by Hannah Moskowitz (Entangled Teen).
The Schneider Family Book Awards, for books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience, went to Just Ask! Be Different, Be Brave, Be You, written by Sonia Sotomayor, illustrated by Rafael López (Philomel) in the young children category; Song for a Whale by Lynne Kelly (Delacorte) in middle grade; and Cursed by Karol Ruth Silverstein (Charlesbridge) in teens.
One honor book was selected in each category: A Friend for Henry, written by Jenn Bailey, illustrated by Mika Song (Chronicle) for young children; Each Tiny Spark by Pablo Cartaya (Penguin/Kokila) for middle grade; and The Silence Between Us by Alison Gervais (Blink) for teens.
The Odyssey Award for best audiobook produced for children and/or young adults went to Hey, Kiddo: How I Lost My Mother, Found My Father, and Dealt with Family Addiction, produced by Scholastic Audiobooks, written by Jarrett J. Krosoczka. The book was narrated by the author, Jeanne Birdsall, Jenna Lamia, Richard Ferrone, and a full cast. Four Odyssey Honor titles were selected: Redwood and Ponytail, produced by Hachette Audio, written by K.A. Holtand, narrated by Cassandra Morris and Tessa Netting; Song for a Whale, produced by Listening Library, written by Lynne Kelly, narrated by Abigail Revasch and the author; We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga, produced by Live Oak Media, written by Traci Sorell, narrated by Lauren Hummingbird, Agalisiga (Choogie) Mackey, Ryan Mackey, Tonia Weavel, and the author; and We’re Not from Here, produced by Listening Library, written by Geoff Rodkey and narrated by Dani Martineck.
The Excellence in Early Learning Digital Media Awards, given to a digital media producer that has created distinguished digital media for an early learning audience, went to Molly of Denali, produced by PBS Kids. The committee selected two honor recipients: Seek, produced by iNaturalist; and States of Matter by Tinybop, produced by Tinybop.
Click here to see our interviews with the Newbery, Caldecott, and Printz Medalists, and hear where they were when they got "the call."