This week in Dallas, the American Library Association announced their 2012 Youth Media Award winners. This might not sound like earth-shattering news, but these awards are to children’s literature what the Oscars are to film. If you are a writer or lover of children’s books, I assure you, this day is huge.
Die-hards were even able to wake up with the birds on Monday morning to watch a live webcast at 5:30 a.m. as the winners were announced. I, of course, was still snuggled under my covers since, let’s be real, the books were all still there a couple of hours later, but the fact that such a broadcast exists lends credence to how much of a big deal this really is.
Unlike the Oscars, nominees are not announced in advance. The authors and illustrators who earn top honors find out at the same time as the rest of us, having only been able to speculate as to whether or not they had even been nominated.
Having that embossed metal seal on the cover of your book is like getting back an essay marked with a giant A+ in permanent red ink. It is the ultimate stamp of approval, and lets would be readers know that a journey through these pages will not be a waste of time.
While most of us are familiar with the Caldecott and Newberry Awards, there are many lesser known but still impressive awards handed out as well. What follows is a list of some of the most notable award winners. Many of the titles are new to me, but I can assure you, we will not remain strangers for long.
Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children:
Winner – “A Ball For Daisy” by Chris Raschka
Honors – “Blackout” by John Rocco
“Grandpa Green” by Lane Smith
“Me…Jane” by Patrick McDonnell
Newberry Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature:
Winner – “Dead End in Norvelt” by Jack Gantos
Honors – “Inside Out and Back Again” by Thanhha Lai
“Breaking Stalin’s Nose” by Eugene Yelchin
Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults:
Winner – “Where Things Come Back” by John Corey Whaley (also winner of the William C. Morris Young Adult Debut Award)
Honors – “Why We Broke Up” by Daniel Handler and Maira Kalman
“The Returning” by Christine Hinwood
“Jasper Jones” by Craig Silvey
“The Scorpio Races” by Maggie Stiefvater
Theodore Seuss Geisel Award for the most distinguished beginning reader book:
Winner – “Tales for Very Picky Eaters” by Josh Schneider
Honors – “I Broke My Trunk (An Elephant and Piggie Book)” by Mo Willems
“I Want My Hat Back” by John Klaussen
“See Me Run” by Paul Meisel
Coretta Scott King Author Award recognizing an African American author of outstanding books for children and young adults:
Winner – “Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African-Americans” by Kadir Nelson
Honors – “The Great Migration: Journey to the North” by Eloise Greenfield
“Never Forgotten” by Patricia McKissack
Pura Belpré Award honoring a Latino writer whose children’s books best portray, affirm and celebrate the Latino cultural experience:
Winner – “Under the Mesquite” by Guadalupe Garcia McCall (also a finalist for the William C. Morris Young Adult Debut Award)
Honors – “Hurricane Dancers: The First Caribbean Pirate Shipwreck” by Margarita Engle
“Maximillian and the Mystery of the Guardian Angel: A BilingualLucha Libre Thriller” by Xavier Garza
YALSA Award for excellence in nonfiction for young adults:
Winner – “The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism, and Treachery” by Steve Sheinkin
For a full listing of award winners, including non-fiction finalists, and the winners of the Alex Award for books written for adults with a special appeal to young adults, please visit ala.org.