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2017 Children’s Book Award Winners


Yesterday was the biggest day of the year for children’s books and their authors – the day the American Library Association (ALA) announced the winners of its prestigious Children’s Book Awards. There were more than 20 awards given in total. Some of the most notable:

The John Newbery Medal: Named for 18th-century bookseller John Newbery, the medal is awarded to the author of the most distinguished American children’s book published the previous year. This year’s honor went to The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill, a bewitching and magical story of a little girl, accidentally infused by moonlight, coming into her own power.

The Randolph Caldecott Medal: If the Newbery Medal is the highest honor for the author of a children’s book, then the Caldecott medal is the same for its illustrator. Since 1937, illustrators who work hard to provide the art that sparks young minds have been honored with this bronze medal, named for Randolph Caldecott, who, along with Kate Greenaway and Walter Crane, was one of the most influential children’s illustrators of the 19th century. This year, the Caldecott Medal went to Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat by Javaka Steptoe. Steptoe’s work was praised for its dedication and creativity, as he devoted himself to recreating the fresh style, originality and outsider perspectives of Basquiat’s art, without actually using any of his work. Incorporating found objects, vivid colors and bold shapes, the illustrations throughout Steptoe’s book are exceptional.

Radiant Child also won the 2017 Coretta Scott King Awards for its illustrations, while the CSK award for text was given to March: Book Three by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin. The book is the final in a trilogy of graphic novels dedicated to understanding the civil rights movement – its origins, its key heroes, its major events, and why its continuation is urgent and imperative today. Its co-author, Congressman John Lewis, was at the heart of the movement and a key player in the fight to desegregate. The Coretta Scott King Awards, named for American author, civil rights leader and political activist Coretta Scott King, are given annually to exceptional African American authors and illustrators of children’s books depicting issues and aspects of African American culture.

The 2017 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for Beginning Readers is given annually to the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished American book for beginning readers published in English in the United States during the preceding year. This year it went to We Are Growing by Mo Willems and Laurie Keller, a sweet and heartfelt story about a blade of grass who doesn’t feel outstanding (in his field? ha).

Since 1996, the Pura Belpré Medal for Latino Literature is awarded each year to a LatinX children’s author and illustrator whose book best depicts the LatinX cultural experience. This year’s recipient for illustration was Lowriders to the Center of the Earth by Cathy Camper, illustrated by Raul the Third, which tells the fantastical story of a missing cat whose disappearance leads our heroes to confront the Aztec god of the Underworld. The text winner was Juana & Lucas by Juana Medina, about a spunky young girl living in Bogota, Colombia with her sidekick, Lucas the dog.

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