‘The Undefeated’ Wins Caldecott, And ‘New Kid’ Picks Up Newbery
It is a universally acknowledged truth that a curious reader in want of a good book needs only direct their footsteps (and questions) to the nearest librarian. Librarians, after all, are always a font of good book suggestions.
So naturally, when a whole bunch of them get together for the American Library Association’s annual midwinter conference, you can expect a host of recommendations to come of it. Enter: the annual Youth Media Awards, a slew of children’s book prizes announced Monday, January 27, 2020, including the John Newbery and Randolph Caldecott medals.
Jerry Craft won this year’s Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature for New Kid, a book focused on the struggles of a seventh grade student of color who has been sent to a prestigious private school with little diversity. Meanwhile, The Undefeated, an ode to great black Americans illustrated by Kadir Nelson and written by Kwame Alexander, won the Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished picture book for children.
At Monday’s ceremony, both books also claimed Coretta Scott King Awards, which celebrate children’s books produced by African Americans. New Kid won for Craft’s work as an author, and The Undefeated earned the prize for Nelson’s contributions as an illustrator.
Monday’s win marks the latest in a raft of honors for Alexander, who also has a Newbery medal to his name after his novel The Crossover won five years ago. The Undefeated is among the first books published by his Versify imprint, launched last year at publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
While the Newbery and Caldecott regularly grab headlines, they weren’t the only prizes handed out. Find the full list of Youth Media Award winners below.
Youth Media Award Winners
Newbery Medal: New Kid, by Jerry Craft.
- Newbery Honor Books: The Undefeated, written by Kwame Alexander and illustrated by Kadir Nelson; Scary Stories for Young Foxes, written by Christian McKay Heidicker and illustrated by Junyi Wu; Other Words for Home, written by Jasmine Warga; and Genesis Begins Again, written by Alicia D. Williams.
Caldecott Medal: The Undefeated, written by Kwame Alexander and illustrated by Kadir Nelson.
- Caldecott Honor Books: Bear Came Along, illustrated by LeUyen Pham and written by Richard T. Morris; Double Bass Blues, illustrated by Rudy Gutierrez and written by Andrea J. Loney; and Going Down Home with Daddy, illustrated by Daniel Minter and written by Kelly Starling Lyons.
Coretta Scott King Book Awards (for “books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values”):
- Author award: New Kid, by Jerry Craft.
- Illustrator award: The Undefeated, illustrated by Kadir Nelson and written by Kwame Alexander.
- Virginia Hamilton Award (lifetime achievement): Mildred D. Taylor
- John Steptoe Award for New Talent (Illustrator): What Is Given from the Heart, illustrated by April Harrison.
- John Steptoe Award for New Talent (Author): Genesis Begins Again, by Alicia D. Williams.
Theodor Seuss Geisel Award (for “the most distinguished American book for beginning readers”): Stop! Bot!, written and illustrated by James Yang.
Children’s Literature Legacy Award (for an author or illustrator whose books “over a period of years, a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children through books that demonstrate integrity and respect for all children’s lives and experiences”): Kevin Henkes.
Excellence in Early Learning Digital Media (for “distinguished digital media for an early learning audience”): Molly of Denali, produced by PBS Kids.
Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal (for “the most distinguished informational book”): Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story, written by Kevin Noble Maillard and illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal.
Mildred L. Batchelder Award (for the publisher of the most outstanding books originating in a country other than the U.S. and in a language other than English, later translated and published in the U.S.): Brown, written by Håkon Øvreås, illustrated by Øyvind Torseter and translated by Kari Dickson. Originally published in Norwegian as Brune.
Pura Belpré Award (for “a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth”):
- Illustration: Dancing Hands: How Teresa Carreño Played the Piano for President Lincoln, illustrated by Rafael López and written by Margarita Engle.
- Text: Sal and Gabi Break the Universe, written by Carlos Hernandez.
Michael L. Printz Award (for “the best book written for teens, based entirely on its literary merit”): Dig, written by A.S. King.
Excellence in Nonfiction Award (for “the best nonfiction book published for young adults — ages 12-18”): Free Lunch, written by Rex Ogle.
William C. Morris Award (for work “published by a first-time author writing for teens and celebrating impressive new voices in young adult literature”): The Field Guide to the North American Teenager, written by Ben Philippe.
Odyssey Award (for the “best audiobook produced for children and/or young adults, available in English in the U.S.”): Hey, Kiddo: How I Lost My Mother, Found My Father, and Dealt with Family Addiction, written by Jarrett J. Krosoczka and narrated by the author, Jeanne Birdsall, Jenna Lamia, Richard Ferrone and a full cast.
Margaret A. Edwards Award (for “significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature”): Steve Sheinkin.
Stonewall Book Awards (for work of “exceptional merit relating to the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender experience”):
- Children: When Aidan Became a Brother, written by Kyle Lukoff and illustrated by Kaylani Juanita.
- Young adult: The Black Flamingo, written by Dean Atta and illustrated by Anshika Khullar.
Schneider Family Book Award (for “a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences”):
- Children: Just Ask! Be Different, Be Brave, Be You, written by Sonia Sotomayor and illustrated by Rafael López.
- Middle grade: Song for a Whale, written by Lynne Kelly
- Teen: Cursed, by Karol Ruth Silverstein.
Sydney Taylor Book Award (for “outstanding books for children and teens that authentically portray the Jewish experience”):
- Young readers: The Book Rescuer: How a Mensch from Massachusetts Saved Yiddish Literature for Generations to Come, written by Sue Macy, illustrated by Stacy Innerst.
- Middle grade readers: White Bird: A Wonder Story, by R.J. Palacio.
- Young adult readers: Someday We Will Fly, by Rachel DeWoskin.
Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association Award for Literature(for outstanding “work about Asian/Pacific Americans and their heritage”):
- Picture book: Queen of Physics: How Wu Chien Shiung Helped Unlock the Secrets of the Atom, written by Teresa Robeson, illustrated by Rebecca Huang.
- Children’s literature: Stargazing, written by Jen Wang.
- Young adult literature: They Called Us Enemy, written by George Takei, Justin Eisinger and Steven Scott, illustrated by Harmony Becker.