Every year, the American Library Association combs through thousands of children's and teen materials in search of great works in each respective category. I'm sure you have heard of the Newbery and Caldecott Medals, the most popular awards that recognize the best in children's literature and illustration, respectively. The Newbery and Caldecott Medals are not the only awards out there, however. Take the Coretta Scott King Award for instance, which recognizes African American authors demonstrating "an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values," (ALA, 2023). Other awards may celebrate authors of marginalized communities, those from other countries, or exceptional debut novelists. Here are a few of the Youth Media Award winners from 2023!
The Caldecott Medal:
The 2023 Caldecott was awarded to Hot Dog by Doug Salati.
"This hot dog has had enough of summer in the city! Enough of sizzling sidewalks, enough of wailing sirens, enough of people's feet right in his face. When he plops down in the middle of a crosswalk, his owner endeavors to get him the breath of fresh air he needs. She hails a taxi, hops a train, and ferries out to the beach.
Here, a pup can run!
With fluid art and lyrical text that have the soothing effect of waves on sand, award-winning author Doug Salati shows us how to find calm and carry it back with us so we can appreciate the small joys in a day."
The Newbery Medal:
The 2023 Newbery was awarded to Freewater by Amina Luqman Dawson. It also won the Coretta Scott King Author Award!
"Under the cover of night, twelve-year-old Homer flees Southerland Plantation with his little sister Ada, unwillingly leaving their beloved mother behind. Much as he adores her and fears for her life, Homer knows there’s no turning back, not with the overseer on their trail. Through tangled vines, secret doorways, and over a sky bridge, the two find a secret community called Freewater, deep in the swamp.
In this society created by formerly enslaved people and some freeborn children, Homer finds new friends, almost forgetting where he came from. But when he learns of a threat that could destroy Freewater, he crafts a plan to find his mother and help his new home.
Deeply inspiring and loosely based on the history of maroon communities in the South, this is a striking tale of survival, adventure, friendship, and courage."
Michael L. Printz Award:
The Michael L. Printz Award, which recognizes excellence in YA fiction, was awarded to Sabaa Tahir for All My Rage.
"Salahudin and Noor are more than best friends; they are family. Growing up as outcasts in the small desert town of Juniper, California, they understand each other the way no one else does. Until The Fight, which destroys their bond with the swift fury of a star exploding.
Now, Sal scrambles to run the family motel as his mother Misbah’s health fails and his grieving father loses himself to alcoholism. Noor, meanwhile, walks a harrowing tightrope: working at her wrathful uncle’s liquor store while hiding the fact that she’s applying to college so she can escape him—and Juniper—forever.
When Sal’s attempts to save the motel spiral out of control, he and Noor must ask themselves what friendship is worth—and what it takes to defeat the monsters in their pasts and the ones in their midst.
From one of today’s most cherished and bestselling young adult authors comes a breathtaking novel of young love, old regrets, and forgiveness—one that’s both tragic and poignant in its tender ferocity."
Pura Belpré Children’s Author Award:
Frizzy by Claribel Ortega won the Pura Belpré Award, which is awarded to Latin authors who celebrate Latino cultural experiences.
"Marlene loves three things: books, her cool Tía Ruby and hanging out with her best friend Camila. But according to her mother, Paola, the only thing she needs to focus on is school and "growing up." That means straightening her hair every weekend so she could have "presentable", "good hair".
But Marlene hates being in the salon and doesn't understand why her curls are not considered pretty by those around her. With a few hiccups, a dash of embarrassment, and the much-needed help of Camila and Tia Ruby―she slowly starts a journey to learn to appreciate and proudly wear her curly hair."
Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award:
Standing in the Need of Prayer: A Modern Retelling of the Classic Spiritual was awarded to illustrator Frank Morrison. The story was written by Carole Boston Weatherford.
"This inspirational book encapsulates African American history and invites conversations at all levels. Stretching more than four hundred years, this book features pivotal moments in history, such as the arrival of enslaved people in Jamestown, Virginia, in 1619; Nat Turner's rebellion; the integration of the US military; the Selma to Montgomery marches; and peaceful present-day protests. It also celebrates the feats of African American musicians and athletes, such as Duke Ellington and Florence Griffith Joyner. Visually stunning and incredibly timely, this book reckons with a painful history while serving as a testament to the human spirit's ability to persevere in even the most hopeless of circumstances. Its universal message of faith, strength, and resilience will resonate with readers of all ages.
Carole Boston Weatherford’s riveting text and Frank Morrison’s evocative and detailed paintings are informative reminders of yesterday, hopeful images for today, and aspirational dreams of tomorrow."
The complete list of the ALA Youth Media Awards Winners can be found here. Find one today at the Concord Public Library!