Memoirs, graphic novels and stories in verse were the big winners of this year’s American Library Association’s awards for young adult and children’s literature. The awards, which are among the most prestigious literary prizes for children’s book authors, were announced Monday at the association’s midwinter conference in Chicago.
Kwame Alexander’s novel in verse, “The Crossover,” about 13-year-old twin brothers who are basketball stars, won the John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature. Mr. Alexander also received a Coretta Scott King honor recognizing African-American authors and illustrators. It was the first A.L.A. award for Mr. Alexander, a poet and novelist who has published 17 books.
Jacqueline Woodson’s memoir in verse, “Brown Girl Dreaming” (which has already won a National Book Award), along with Cece Bell’s illustrated memoir, “El Deafo” (which chronicles her hearing loss at an early age from spinal meningitis and her struggle to fit in at school), were named as Newbery Honor books.
Ms. Woodson, whose memoir describes her childhood and coming of age in South Carolina and New York in the 1960s and 1970s, also won the Coretta Scott King Award recognizing outstanding African-American children’s book authors and illustrators, and the Robert F. Sibert honor for the most distinguished informational book for children.
Other winners include Dan Santat’s “The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend,” a whimsical story for 3- to 6-year-olds, which earned the Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book.
“I’ll Give You the Sun,” Jandy Nelson’s novel about teenage fraternal twins who compete over everything, won the Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults.
The awards come at a moment when children’s literature is holding steady as a fast-growing and profitable category for publishers. Sales of children’s and young adult books grew nearly 22 percent in the first 10 months of 2014, compared with the previous year, while sales of adult books fell slightly, according to the latest figures from the Association of American Publishers.
article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)