Oh, what a year for the Youth Media Awards!! It was a perfect ending to a mediocre MidWinter event for me. I have a few highlights regarding the winners. I’ve tried to stick to awards with the most appeal to tweens and teens, after all that is what I do best.
And, I’ve tried to provide a few insights, as if the books themselves aren’t interesting enough! I’ve avoided details like the fact that Mildred Taylor lived in my hometown or that Candace Fleming, Kekla Magoon and Leah Johnson all have Hoosier/Indiana connections. But I did note how many of those books are debuts and what some of the authors have coming out later this year. And, who is the first Native American author to appear on the Printz list.
The ceremony flew by so fast! Here’s a chance to savor some of the best books published in 2020 in the USA.
When You Trap a Tiger, written by Tae Keller
According to Dr. Sarah Park Dahlen, “Tae Keller is now the 2nd Korean American, the 5th Asian American (Dhan Gopal Mukerji, Linda Sue Park, Cynthia Kadohata, Erin Entrada Kelly, and now Tae Keller) to win this top award. And Erin Entrada Kelly (Filipna American) and Christina Soontornvat (Thai American) both won Newbery Honors. Christina got TWO Newbery Honors this year!”
- All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys’ Soccer Team, written by Christina Soontornvat and published by Candlewick Press.
- BOX: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom,written by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Michele Wood and published by Candlewick Press. Weatherford’s first book award was a Carter G. Woodson Book Award in 2001 for The Sound that Jazz Makes.
- Fighting Words,written by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley and published by Dial Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Random House;
- We Dream of Space,written by Erin Entrada Kelly, illustrated by Erin Entrada Kelly and Celia Krampien and published by Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Her next book, Maybe Maby Marilsol Rainey will release this May.
- A Wish in the Dark,written by Christina Soontornvat and published by Candlewick Press. I think I counted 6 awards for Soontornvat.
Stonewall Book Award – Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children’s & Young Adult Literature Award given annually to English-language children’s and young adult books of exceptional merit relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender experience:
We Are Little Feminists: Families, written by Archaa Shrivastav, designed by Lindsey Blakely and published by Little Feminist, is the 2021 recipient of the Stonewall Book Awards – Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children’s & Young Adult Literature Award.
- Beetle & The Hollowbones, illustrated and written by Aliza Layne and published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division.
- Darius the Great Deserves Better, written by Adib Khorram and published by Dial Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.
- Felix Ever After, written by Kacen Callender and published by Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers; This was one of two awards Kacen received this year.
- You Should See Me in a Crown, written by Leah Johnson and published by Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic Inc. This was a debut novel. Her next book, Rise to the Sun, releases this July.
Coretta Scott King Author Book Award:
Before the Ever After, written by Jacqueline Woodson, is the King Author Book winner. The book is published by Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Woodson first won the Coretta Scott King Authors award in 2001 for Miracle’s Boys. She was honored for From the Notebooks of the Melanin Sun (1996) and I Hadn’t Meant to Tell You This (1995). Woodson is a 2020 MacArthur Genius Award winner.
Author Honor Books
- All the Days Past, All the Days to Come, written by Mildred D. Taylor, published by Viking, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Book #8 in the Logan Family Series. Previous books in the series receiving a CSK Author award were The Land (2002), The Road to Memphis (1991), The Friendship (1988) Let the Circle BE Unbroken (1982) and an Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry was an author honor book in 1977.
- King and the Dragonflies,written by Kacen Callender, published by Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic Inc.
- Lifting as We Climb: Black Women’s Battle for the Ballot Box, written by Evette Dionne, published by Viking, an imprint of Penguin Random House. A nonfiction winner.
Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Author Award:
Legendborn, written by Tracy Deonn, is the Steptoe Author Award winner. The book is published by Margaret K. McElderry Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division. Tracy also writes for the docu-series, Looking for Leia. She is the first sci-fi author to win the award.
Children’s Literature Legacy Award
Mildred D. Taylor, whose award-winning works include Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, the 1977 Newbery Medal winner and a Coretta Scott King (CSK) Author honor; The Land, the 2002 CSK Author Award winner; The Road to Memphis, the 1991 CSK Author Award winner; All the Days Past, All the Days to Come; and The Gold Cadillac, among other titles.
Margaret A. Edwards Award
Kekla Magoon is recognized for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults. Her books include: X: A Novel, cowritten by Ilyasah Shabazz and published by Candlewick Press; How It Went Down, published by Henry Holt and Co. Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group; and The Rock and the River and Fire in the Streets, both published by Aladdin, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing.
Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature. The award promotes Asian/Pacific American culture and heritage and is awarded based on literary and artistic merit. Children’s Literature winner
When You Trap a Tiger written by Tae Keller and published by Random House Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Random House.
- Prairie Lotus, written by Linda Sue Park and published by Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers, a division of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Youth Literature winner
This Light Between Us, written by Andrew Fukuda and published by Tor Teen.
- Displacement written by Kiku Hughes and published by First Second, an imprint of Macmillan C,hildren’s Publishing Group.
Pura Belpré Awards
The four authors listed here are all first time Pura Belpré award winners.
Children’s Author Award
Efrén Divided written by Ernesto Cisneros and published by Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishing. This was a debut novel.
- The Total Eclipse of Nestor Lopez,written by Adrianna Cuevas and published by Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Macmillan Publishing Group. This was a debut book. Cuba in My Pocket will release this fall.
- Lupe Wong Won’t Dance, written by Donna Barba Higuera and published by Levine Querido. This was a debut novel. El Cucuy is Scared Too! will be out in July.
Young Adult Author Award
Furia, written by Yamile Saied Méndez, is the Pura Belpré Young Adult Author Award winner. The book is published by Algonquin Young Readers, an imprint of Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill. Mendez is an Argentine-American, Picture Book, Middle Grade, and Young Adult author.
- Never Look Back, written by Lilliam Rivera and published by Bloomsbury YA
- We Are Not from Here, written by Jenny Torres Sanchez and published by Philomel Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House.
Schneider Family Book Award for books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience:
Show Me a Sign, written by Ann Clare LeZotte and published by Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic Inc., is the winner for middle grades (ages 11–13). There’s a sequel on the way!
- Get a Grip, Vivy Cohen!, written by Sarah Kapit and published by Dial Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers, a division of Penguin Random House. This was a debut novel.
- When Stars Are Scattered, written by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed, illustrated by Victoria Jamieson, color by Iman Geddy, and published by Dial Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers, a division of Penguin Random House.
This Is My Brain in Love, written by I. W. Gregorio and published by Little Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group, is the winner for teens (ages 13–18).
Alex Award list of the10 best adult books that appeal to teen audiences
- Black Sun, by Rebecca Roanhorse, published by Saga Press/Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. This book is he first in the Between the Earth and Sky trilogy. Roanhorse was born in the African-American and Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo heritage.
- The House in the Cerulean Sea, by TJ Klune, published by Tor Books, an imprint of Tom Doherty Associates, a division of Macmillan Publishing Group
- The Impossible First: From Fire to Ice—Crossing Antarctica Alone, by Colin O’Brady, published by Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster
- Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio, by Derf Backderf, published by Abrams Comicarts
- The Kids Are Gonna Ask, by Gretchen Anthony, published by Park Row Books, an imprint of Harlequin, a division of HarperCollins Publishers
- The Only Good Indians, by Stephen Graham Jones, published by Saga Press/Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. Jones, a member of the Blackfeet nation, is the author of twenty-five or so novels and collections, and there’s some novellas and comic books in there as well. Stephen’s been an NEA recipient, has won the Texas Institute of Letters Award for Fiction, the Independent Publishers Award for Multicultural Fiction, a Bram Stoker Award, four This is Horror Awards, and he’s been a finalist for the Shirley Jackson Award and the World Fantasy Award.
- Plain Bad Heroines, by Emily M. Danforth, published by William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins
- Riot Baby, by Tochi Onyebuchi, published by Tordotcom, an imprint of Tom Doherty Associates, a division of Macmillan Publishing Group. Onyebuchi’s book is the next Boston.com Book Club selection.
- Solutions and Other Problems, by Allie Brosh, published by Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster
- We Ride Upon Sticks: A Novel, by Quan Barry, published by Pantheon Books, a division of Penguin Random House. Born in Saigon and raised on Boston’s north shore, Quan Barry is a professor of English at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and the author of four poetry books
Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award for most distinguished informational book for children:
Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera, written by Candace Fleming and illustrated by Eric Rohmann, is the Sibert Award winner. The book is published by Neal Porter Books/Holiday House.
- How We Got to the Moon: The People, Technology, and Daring Feats of Science Behind Humanity’s Greatest Adventure, written and illustrated by John Rocco, published by Crown Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Random House;
- Exquisite: The Poetry and Life of Gwendolyn Brooks, written by Suzanne Slade, illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera, published by Abrams Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Abrams. Cabrera also received a Caldecott honor this year for A Place Inside of Me: A Poem to Heal the Heart written by Zetta Elliott.
- All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys’ Soccer Team, written by Christina Soontornvat, published by Candlewick Press.
Everything Sad Is Untrue (A True Story), by Daniel Nayeri and published by Arthur A. Levine, an imprint of Levine Querido.
- Apple (Skin to the Core), by Eric Gansworth and published by Arthur A. Levine, an imprint of Levine Querido. Gansworth is the first Native American to receive be on the Printz Award list.
- Dragon Hoops, created by Gene Luen Yang, color by Lark Pien, and published by First Second Books, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group;
- Every Body Looking, by Candice Iloh and published by Dutton Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers, a division of Penguin Random House
- We Are Not Free, by Traci Chee and published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.