Newbery Medal and Honor Books
The Newbery Medal was named for eighteenth-century British bookseller John Newbery. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. The first Newbery Medal and Honor Books were named in 1922. I wrote about the 1922 winners here.
2012 Medal Winner
Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos (Farrar, Straus, Giroux)
Melding the entirely true and the wildly fictional, Dead End in Norvelt is a novel about an incredible two months for a kid named Jack Gantos, whose plans for vacation excitement are shot down when he is "grounded for life" by his feuding parents, and whose nose spews bad blood at every little shock he gets. But plenty of excitement (and shocks) are coming Jack's way once his mom loans him out to help a feisty old neighbor with a most unusual chore—typewriting obituaries filled with stories about the people who founded his utopian town. As one obituary leads to another, Jack is launched on a strange adventure involving molten wax, Eleanor Roosevelt, twisted promises, a homemade airplane, Girl Scout cookies, a man on a trike, a dancing plague, voices from the past, Hells Angels . . . and possibly murder. Endlessly surprising, this sly, sharp-edged narrative is the author at his very best, making readers laugh out loud at the most unexpected things in a dead-funny depiction of growing up in a slightly off-kilter place where the past is present, the present is confusing, and the future is completely up in the air.
Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai (Harper Collins Children's Books)
Breaking Stalin's Nose written and illustrated by Eugene Yelchin (Henry Holt and Company)
No one would believe me but at times I would choose wartime in Saigon over peacetime in Alabama.
For all the ten years of her life, Hà has only known Saigon: the thrills of its markets, the joy of its traditions, the warmth of her friends close by . . . and the beauty of her very own papaya tree.
But now the Vietnam War has reached her home. Hà and her family are forced to flee as Saigon falls, and they board a ship headed toward hope. In America, Hà discovers the foreign world of Alabama: the coldness of its strangers, the dullness of its food, the strange shape of its landscape . . . and the strength of her very own family.
This is the moving story of one girl's year of change, dreams, grief, and healing as she journeys from one country to another, one life to the next.
The Young Pioneer is devoted to Comrade Stalin, the Communist Party, and Communism.A Young Pioneer is a reliable comrade and always acts according to conscience.A Young Pioneer has a right to criticize shortcomings.But now that it is finally time to join the Young Pioneers, the day Sasha has awaited for so long, everything seems to go awry. He breaks a classmate's glasses with a snowball. He accidentally damages a bust of Stalin in the school hallway. And worst of all, his father, the best Communist he knows, was arrested just last night.This moving story of a ten-year-old boy's world shattering is masterful in its simplicity, powerful in its message, and heartbreaking in its plausibility.
Caldecott Medal and Honor Books
The Caldecott Medal was named in honor of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.
2012 Caldecott Medal Winner
A Ball for Daisy written and illustrated by Chris Raschka (Schwartz and Wade Books)
In a wordless book with huge children’s appeal, Chris Raschka gives us the story of an irrepressible little dog whose most prized possession is accidently destroyed. With brilliant economy of line and color, Raschka captures Daisy’s total (yet temporary) devastation. A buoyant tale of loss, recovery and friendship.
Blackout written and illustrated by John Rocco (Disney Hyperion Books)
A summer’s power outage draws an urban family up to their building’s roof and then down to the street for an impromptu block party. Rocco illuminates details and characters with a playful use of light and shadow in his cartoon-style illustrations. He delivers a terrific camaraderie-filled adventure that continues even when the electricity returns.
Grandpa Green written and illustrated by Lane Smith (Roaring Brook Press)
Elaborate topiary sculptures give visual form to memories in a wildly fanciful garden tended by a child and his beloved great-grandfather. Using an inspired palate, Lane Smith invites readers to tour a green lifetime of meaningful moments.
Me...Jane written and illustrated by Patrick McDonnell (Little, Brown and Company)
Watching the birds and squirrels in her yard, a young girl discovers the joy and wonder of nature. In delicate and precise India ink and watercolor, McDonnell depicts the awakening of a scientific spirit. A perceptive glimpse of the childhood of renowned primatologist Jane Goodall.
Printz Award and Honor Books
The Michael L. Printz Award is an award for a book that exemplifies literary excellence in young adult literature. It is named for a Topeka, Kansas school librarian who was a long-time active member of the Young Adult Library Services Association. The award is sponsored by Booklist, a publication of the American Library Association.
2012 Printz Award Winner
Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley (Atheneum Books for Young Readers)
In the remarkable, bizarre, and heart-wrenching summer before Cullen Witter’s senior year of high school, everything he thinks he understands about his small and painfully dull Arkansas town vanishes. His cousin overdoses; his town becomes absurdly obsessed with the alleged reappearance of an extinct woodpecker; and most troubling of all, his sensitive, gifted fifteen-year-old brother, Gabriel, suddenly and inexplicably disappears.
As Cullen navigates a summer of finding and losing love, holding his fragile family together, and muddling his way into adulthood, a young, disillusioned missionary in Africa searches for meaning wherever he can find it. Through masterful plotting, these two stories are brought face-to-face in a surprising and harrowing climax that is tinged with melancholy and regret, comedy and absurdity, and above all, hope.
John Corey Whaley also won the 2012 William C. Morris Award for a debut book by a first-time author writing for teen.
Why We Broke Up written by Daniel Handler, art by Maira Kalman (Little, Brown and Company)
In this beautiful piece of bookmaking, heartbroken movie obsessive Min Green dumps a box of relationship ephemera on ex-love Ed Slaterton’s porch, each item attached to a raging, loving, insecure and regretful letter explaining how each memento contributed to their breakup.
The Returning by Christine Hinwood (Dial Books)
An engrossing epic tale with a cast of characters that will hijack your heart.
Cam Attling, having lost an arm, is the only one from his town of Kayforl to return after twelve years of war. All his fellow soldiers were slain, and suspicion surrounds him. When his betrothal to Graceful Fenister is called off and his role in the community questioned, Cam leaves to find the lord who maimed him but spared his life, seeking answers and a new place in the world.
But this is not just Cam's story, it's about all those whose fates entwine with his. Set in a medieval world that is entirely the author's creation, this is an ingenious, exquisite story about what happens after the battle. When sisters, sons, friends, parents, and lovers are left to deal with the subtle aftermaths and unimagined repercussions of war.
Jasper Jones written by Craig Silvey (Alfred A. Knopf)
Charlie Bucktin, a bookish thirteen year old, is startled one summer night by an urgent knock on his bedroom window. His visitor is Jasper Jones, an outcast in their small mining town, and he has come to ask for Charlie's help. Terribly afraid but desperate to impress, Charlie follows him into the night.
Jasper takes him to his secret glade, where Charlie witnesses Jasper's horrible discovery. With his secret like a brick in his belly, Charlie is pushed and pulled by a town closing in on itself in fear and suspicion. He locks horns with his tempestuous mother, falls nervously in love, and battles to keep a lid on his zealous best friend. In the simmering summer where everything changes, Charlie learns why the truth of things is so hard to know, and even harder to hold in his heart.
The Scorpio Races written by Maggie Stiefvater (Scholastic Press)
Some race to win. Others race to survive.
It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line.
Some riders live.
At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.
Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn't given her much of a choice. So she enters the competition - the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.
As she did in her bestselling Shiver trilogy, author Maggie Stiefvater takes us to the breaking point, where both love and life meet their greatest obstacles, and only the strong of heart can survive. The Scorpio Races is an unforgettable reading experience.
Coretta Scott King Book Award
The CSK Book Award recognizes an African American author and illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults. In 1969, while attending the American Library Association Meeting in New Jersey, Mabel McKissick and Glyndon Greer, two school librarians, had a chance meeting at a booth when both were trying to get a poster of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. It was a time of great turmoil in the country. Both women loved children's literature and were discussing that African American authors and illustrators had not been distinguished with awards for their work. John Carroll, publisher at the booth where the two were vying for the poster, asked them why they didn't start an award to do so. From that seed of an idea, the Coretta Scott King Award was born.
2012 Author Award Winner
Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans written and illustrated by Kadir Nelson (Balzer + Bray)
The story of America and African Americans is a story of hope and inspiration and unwavering courage. But it is also the story of injustice; of a country divided by law, education, and wealth; of a people whose struggles and achievements helped define their country. This is the story of the men, women, and children who toiled in the hot sun picking cotton for their masters; it’s about the America ripped in two by Jim Crow laws; it’s about the brothers and sisters of all colors who rallied against those who would dare bar a child from an education. It’s a story of discrimination and broken promises, determination and triumphs.
Kadir Nelson, one of this generation’s most accomplished, award-winning artists, has created an epic yet intimate introduction to the history of America and African Americans, from colonial days through the civil rights movement. Written in the voice of an “Everywoman,” an unnamed narrator whose forebears came to this country on slave ships and who lived to cast her vote for the first African American president, heart and soul touches on some of the great transformative events and small victories of that history. This inspiring book demonstrates that in gaining their freedom and equal rights, African Americans helped our country achieve its promise of liberty and justice—the true heart and soul of our nation.
Kadir Nelson also won the 2012 Illustrator Honor Award for Heart and Soul .
The Great Migration: Journey to the North written by Eloise Greenfield and illustrated by Jan Spivey Gilchrist (Amistad)
Never Forgotten written by Patricia C. McKissack; illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon (Schwartz and Wade Books)
We were one family among the many thousands. Mama and Daddy leaving home, coming to the city, with their hopes and their courage, their dreams and their children, to make a better life.
When Eloise Greenfield was four months old, her family moved from their home in Parmele, North Carolina, to Washington, D.C.
Before Jan Spivey Gilchrist was born, her mother moved from Arkansas and her father moved from Mississippi. Both settled in Chicago, Illinois. Though none of them knew it at the time, they had all become part of the Great Migration.
In this collection of poems and collage artwork, award winners Eloise Greenfield and Jan Spivey Gilchrist gracefully depict the experiences of families like their own, who found the courage to leave their homes behind and make new lives for themselves elsewhere.
This gorgeous picture book by Newbery Honor winner Patricia C. McKissack and two-time Caldecott Medal-winning husband-and-wife team Leo and Diane Dillon is sure to become a treasured keepsake for African American families. Set in West Africa, here is a lyrical story-in-verse about a young black boy who is kidnapped and sold into slavery, which will remind children that their slave ancestors should never be forgotten, and that family is more important than anything else.
2012 Illustrator Award Winner
Underground: Finding the Light to Freedom written and illustrated by Shane W. Evans
The 2012 Schneider Family Book Awards
With haunting pictures and a few simple sentences, Evans introduces beginning readers to a crucial piece of American history. In darkness lit mainly by moonlight, a slave family is seen sneaking away from a plantation, passing a sleeping overseer ("We are quiet"), creeping through shrubbery, and being greeted by a woman in a skirt and cap holding a lantern high ("We make new friends"). The eyes of the slaves shine with doubt and fear. Dense groupings of figures give a sense of immediacy, and rough charcoal lines echo the rugged paths the group travels. Difficult moments are handled with restraint: "Some don't make it," one page says, as a man with a rifle holds a defeated-looking slave. The slaves press on; the dawn that breaks around them is a metaphor for freedom. A man cradles a pregnant woman ("We are almost there"), and on the next page, he holds a swaddled newborn up to the shining sun in triumph. Telling the story without overwhelming readers is a delicate task, but Evans walks the line perfectly.
The Schneider Family Book Awards honor an author or illustrator for a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences. Three annual awards each consisting of $5000 and a framed plaque, will be given annually in each of the following categories: birth through grade school (age 0–8), middle school (age 9–13) and teens (age 14–18). (Age groupings are approximations).
The book must emphasize the artistic expression of the disability experience for children and or adolescent audiences. The book must portray some aspect of living with a disability or that of a friend or family member, whether the disability is physical, mental or emotional.
Ages 0-8 None given.
close to famous by Joan Bauer (Viking)
When twelve-year-old Foster and her mother land in the tiny town of Culpepper, they don't know what to expect. But folks quickly warm to the woman with the great voice and the girl who can bake like nobody's business. Soon Foster - who dreams of having her own cooking show one day - lands herself a gig baking for the local coffee shop, and gets herself some much-needed help in overcoming her biggest challenge - learning to read . . . just as Foster and Mama start to feel at ease, their past catches up to them. Thanks to the folks in Culpepper, though Foster and her mama find the strength to put their troubles behind them for good.
Wonderstruck: A Novel in Words and Pictures by Brian Selznick (Scholastic Press)
Ben and Rose secretly wish their lives were different. Ben longs for the father he has never known. Rose dreams of a mysterious actress whose life she chronicles in a scrapbook. When Ben discovers a puzzling clue in his mother's room and Rose reads an enticing headline in the newspaper, both children set out alone on desperate quests to find what they are missing.
Set fifty years apart, these two independent stories--Ben's told in words, Rose's in pictures--weave back and forth with mesmerizing symmetry. How they unfold and ultimately intertwine will surprise you, challenge you, and leave you breathless with wonder. Rich, complex, affecting, and beautiful--with over 460 pages of original artwork--Wonderstruck is a stunning achievement from a uniquely gifted artist and visionary.
The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen (Alfred A. Knopf)
Jessica thinks her life is over when she loses a leg in a car accident. She's not comforted by the news that she'll be able to walk with the help of a prosthetic leg. Who cares about walking when you live to run?
As she struggles to cope with crutches and a first cyborg-like prosthetic, Jessica feels oddly both in the spotlight and invisible. People who don't know what to say, act like she's not there. Which she could handle better if she weren't now keenly aware that she'd done the same thing herself to a girl with CP named Rosa. A girl who is going to tutor her through all the math she's missed. A girl who sees right into the heart of her.
With the support of family, friends, a coach, and her track teammates, Jessica may actually be able to run again. But that's not enough for her now. She doesn't just want to cross finish lines herself—she wants to take Rosa with her.
Pura Belpre Awards
The Pura Belpré Award, established in 1996, is presented to 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.
2012 Author Winner
Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia McCall (Lee and Low Books Inc)
Lupita, a budding actor and poet in a close-knit Mexican American immigrant family, comes of age as she struggles with adult responsibilities during her mother's battle with cancer in this young adult novel in verse.
When Lupita learns Mami has cancer, she is terrified by the possibility of losing her mother, the anchor of her close-knit family. Suddenly, being a high school student, starring in a play, and dealing with friends who don't always understand, become less important than doing whatever she can to save Mami's life.
While her father cares for Mami at an out-of-town clinic, Lupita takes charge of her seven younger siblings. As Lupita struggles to keep the family afloat, she takes refuge in the shade of a mesquite tree, where she escapes the chaos at home to write. Forced to face her limitations in the midst of overwhelming changes and losses, Lupita rediscovers her voice and finds healing in the power of words.
Told with honest emotion in evocative free verse, Lupita's journey toward hope is captured in moments that are alternately warm and poignant. Under the Mesquite is an empowering story about testing family bonds and the strength of a young woman navigating pain and hardship with surprising resilience.
Hurricane Dancers: The First Caribbean Pirate Shipwreck by Margarita Engle (Henry Holt and Company, LLC)