Scottie Andrew, CNN
The 2022 winners of the American Library Association’s Youth Media Awards, the top prizes in US children’s literature, include tales of trans boys, coming of age during the apocalypse, historical tragedies and celebrations of heritage.
The literacy nonprofit’s awards, which include the Newbery Medal, Caldecott Medal and Coretta Scott King Awards, honor the best in children’s and young adult literature, from picture books to novels. And this year’s winners, announced Monday during a livestreamed ceremony, represent a wide spectrum of experiences and backgrounds.
Below are a few of the categories announced and selected winners.
The John Newbery Medal, which honors the “most outstanding contribution to children’s literature,” was awarded to Donna Barba Higuera’s “The Last Cuentista.” According to publisher Levine Querido, the novel follows a girl named Petra Peña, forced to abandon Earth after a comet destroys it, who spends hundreds of years asleep until she wakes to find she carries the only memories of humanity’s former planet.
Four other books received Newbery Honors, including “Watercress” and “Too Bright to See,” which also received additional awards.
“Watercress,” an autobiographical story that tracks a first-generation girl rediscovering her Chinese heritage by foraging for the titular leafy green in Ohio, was awarded the Randolph Caldecott Medal, given to the “most distinguished American picture book for children.”
Author Andrea Wang said she was “screaming with joy” at the news, and that illustrator Jason Chin’s “incredible, luminous, exquisite art not only brought the story to life but also brought lost family back to me.”
Coretta Scott King Book Award
The award named for King, the civil rights activist and wife of Martin Luther King Jr., is awarded to Black authors and illustrators whose works “demonstrate an appreciation of African-American culture and universal human values,” according to the ALA.
This year, the author and illustrator awards went toward the same book: “Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre,” written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Floyd Cooper. The nonfiction book introduces young readers to the prosperous Black community of Greenwood in Oklahoma and its destruction in 1921 at the hands of a White mob.
Amber McBride was awarded the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Author Award for her debut “Me (Moth),” and Regis and Kahran Bethencourt, who illustrated “The Me I Choose to Be,” received the New Talent Illustrator Award.
Nikki Grimes, a prolific author who wrote the slam poetry-influenced novel “Bronx Masquerade” and picture book biographies of former President Barack Obama and Vice President Kamala Harris, received the Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement for her more than 77 books.
Pura Belpré Awards
The Belpré awards, which honor Latinx writers and artists whose works “best portray, affirm and celebrate the Latino cultural experience,” were given to Higuera for “The Last Cuentista” and illustrator Raúl Gonzalez for the playful picture book “¡Vamos! Let’s Cross the Bridge.” In the young adult category, author Raquel Vasquez Gilliland won for her novel “How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe.”
Stonewall Book Award
The award for LGBTQ literature for young people, formally titled the Stonewall Book Award – Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children’s & Young Adult Literature Award, was awarded to Kyle Lukoff’s “Too Bright to See,” which follows a trans boy’s summer of discovery (and ghosts), and Malinda Lo’s young adult novel “Last Night at the Telegraph Club,” a lesbian love story set during the Red Scare in 1950s Chinatown.
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