Experts Name Year’s Top Books for Kids, Teens

The past year’s top books for children and young adults were named today by distinguished committees of the American Library Association. Notably, the Odyssey Award committee included Jennifer Kendall, lead librarian for youth and teens at Prescott Public Library. Award winners include:

Newbery Medal for most outstanding contribution to children’s literature: Hello, Universe by Kelly, Erin Entrada. Lives of four misfits are intertwined when a bully’s prank lands shy Virgil at the bottom of a well and Valencia, Kaori, and Gen band together in an epic quest to find and rescue him.

Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children: Wolf in the Snow by Cordell, Matthew. When a wolf cub and little girl are lost in a snowstorm they must find their way home.

Coretta Scott King Award recognizing African American authors and illustrators of outstanding books for children and young adults: Piecing Me Together by Watson, Renée. Tired of being singled out at her mostly-white private school as someone who needs support, high school junior Jade would rather participate in the school’s amazing Study Abroad program than join Women to Women, a mentorship program for at-risk girls.

Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award to affirm new talent: The Stars Beneath Our Feet by Moore, David Barclay. Unable to celebrate the holidays in the wake of his older brother’s death in a gang-related shooting, Lolly Rachpaul struggles to avoid being forced into a gang himself while constructing a fantastically creative LEGO city at the Harlem community center.

Printz Award for excellence in literature for young adults: We Are Okay by LaCour, Nina. After leaving her life behind to go to college in New York, Marin must face the truth about the tragedy that happened in the final weeks of summer when her friend Mabel comes to visit.

Schneider Family Book Award recognizing artistic expression of a disability experience: Silent Days, Silent Dreams by Say, Allen. A fictional biography of James Castle, a deaf, autistic artist whose drawings hang in major museums throughout the world.

Odyssey Award, for best audiobook produced for children or young adults: The Hate U Give by Thomas, Angie and narrated by Bonnie Turpin. Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor black neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, at the hands of a police officer.

Pura Belpré Award, honoring Latino writers and illustrators whose work best portray the Latino cultural experience: La Princesa and the Pea by Elya, Susan Middleton. A rhyming twist on a classic fairy tale in which a queen places a pea under a young lady’s mattress to see if she is truly a princess. Incorporates Spanish words and Includes a glossary.

Sibert Award, for the most distinguished informational book for children: Twelve Days in May: Freedom Ride 1961 by Brimner, Larry Dane. For twelve history-making days in May 1961, thirteen black and white civil rights activists, also known as the “Freedom Riders,” traveled by bus into the South to draw attention to the unconstitutional segregation still taking place. Despite their peaceful protests, the Freedom Riders were met with increasing violence the further south they traveled.

Stonewall Book Award – Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children’s & Young Adult Literature Award, for books of exceptional merit relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender experience. There are two winters. The first winner is: Little & Lion by Colbert, Brandy. Suzette returns home to Los Angeles from boarding school and grapples with her bisexual identity when she and her brother Lionel fall in love with the same girl, pushing Lionel’s bipolar disorder to spin out of control and forcing Suzette to confront her own demons. The second winner is: The 57 Bus by Slater, Dashka. The true story of an agender teen who was set on fire by another teen while riding a bus in Oakland, a crime that focuses on the concepts of race, class, gender, crime, and punishment.

Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for the most distinguished book for beginning readers: Charlie and Mouse by Snyder, Laurel and illustrated by Emily Hughes. Charlie and Mouse, two young brothers, enjoy a day out together, attending an imaginary party and collecting rocks.

YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults: Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers by Heiligman, Deborah. The deep and enduring friendship between Vincent and Theo Van Gogh shaped both brothers’ lives. Confidant, champion, sympathizer, friend? Theo supported Vincent as he struggled to find his path in life. They shared everything, swapping stories of lovers and friends, successes and disappointments, dreams and ambitions.

Mildred L. Batchelder Award for outstanding book originally published in another language, outside the United States:  The Murderer’s Ape by Wegelius, Jakob. When her best friend, the sailor Henry Koskela, is falsely accused of murder, a gorilla named Sally Jones visits the run-down docks of Lisbon, embarks on a dizzying journey across the seven seas, and calls on the Maharaja of Bhapur’s magnificent court–all in an attempt to clear Henry’s name.