Thursday, March 7, 2024

2024 Newbery and Caldecott Awards Announced!

The American Library Association has announced its 2024 annual award winners for books, videos, and other outstanding materials for children and teens. Committees of librarians and other literature and media experts, chose the award winners on behalf of the Association for Library Service to Children

The Newbery Medal was named after the eighteenth-century British bookseller John Newbery. It is presented to the author of the book judged to have made the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. It can be a work of fiction, non-fiction, or poetry.

The Caldecott Medal was named in honour of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott.  It is awarded annually to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children. 

There are also a number of other specialist awards for fiction and non-fiction that were announced on the same day.

Newberry Awards

1. Newberry Medal 2024 (Most Outstanding Contribution to Children's Literature)

'The Eyes and the Impossible' by Dave Eggers, illustrated by Shawn Harris.



This is a story about a dog named Johannes. He is free and fast! A real dog about town he lives in a park by the sea. Every day, he does his rounds of the park, checking everything out. But the Equilibrium has been disrupted.

Humans are building something new, and a new kind of animal arrives in the park; hundreds of them! Johannes sets out to liberate those he loves.

The highly engaging story is beautifully illustrated by Shawn Harris the illustrator of 'Her Right Foot' by Dave Eggers and many others. 'The Eyes and the Impossible' is a wonderful book filled with wit and passion. The story will engage readers of all ages.

 2. Newberry Honour Award Winners (Notable Books)

'Eagle Drums' – Nasuġraq Rainey Hopson (Author, Illustrator)

The Iñupiaq is an origin story of the 'Messenger Feast' and a boy who was kidnapped by eagles. It is a haunting story about the dangers of strangers, and an unknown presence in the mountains near his family’s sod house.

His two older brothers Atau and Maliġu are his missing. His parents show their grief by projecting the successes of the brothers’ onto Savik. But he is often just silent thinking, “how can you compete with someone’s memories, anyway?” One day, Savik, who shape-shifts between man and golden eagle, offers Piŋa a choice: death or captivity. Piŋa reflects on the pain his death would cause his parents. He decides to go with Savik and try to return someday. The eagles teach Piŋa singing, drumming, and dancing. He also learns how to build a giant sod house and host a huge feast. 

The lessons aren’t easy, and his ego is challenged. He shares, “I learned not to lead with demands. I learned to lead with connections.” Piŋa struggles with fear and distrust instilled by his family, overcomes self-doubt, and becomes both “creator and learner.” While the story is rich in cultural teachings, Hopson enhances the story with full-page color illustrations that visually connect readers with Piŋa’s journey and emphasize the importance of connections to nature, spiritual beings, and human relatives.

This wonderful book offers life lessons that should help our younger readers to cope with their challenges in the years ahead; in particular, the fear of others.

'Elf Dog and Owl Head' – M.T. Anderson (Author), Junyi Wu (Illustrator)

A magical adventure about a boy and his dog—or a dog and her boy—and a forest of wonders hidden in plain sight.

From the moment the elegant little dog with the ornate collar appears like an apparition among the trees, Clay sees something uncanny in her. With this mysterious 'Elphinore' as guide, he glimpses ancient secrets folded almost invisibly into the forest. Each day the dog leads Clay down paths he never knew existed, deeper into the unknown. But they aren’t alone in their surreal adventures. There are traps and terrors in the woods, too, and if Clay isn’t careful, he might stray off the path and lose his way forever.

Anderson’s introduction to this strange world, is complemented by Wu’s bold crosshatched pencil illustrations. They have a simplicity that is as mysterious as the story. Young readers will want to continue to revisit this book many times. Each time they will see something that might just be a little different or new, as they reflect on the story, and the mystery of the images. This book is a triumph!

'The Many Assassinations of Samir, The Seller of Dreams' – Daniel Nayeri (Author), Daniel Miyares (Illustrator) 

The Silk Road comes to life in this picaresque epic adventure with twists and turns and a wonderful surprise ending. Surprisingly, this book by Printz Medalist Daniel Nayer, has had very mixed reviews for a Newbery Honour Book.

It is the tale of an exciting journey along the Silk Road with a young Monk and his newfound guardian, Samir, a larger than life character and the so-called “Seller of Dreams”. But the man is a scammer; his biggest skill being the ability to talk his way into getting what he wants. While talking does save Monkey’s life, it leaves a lot of people furious — furious enough to hire assassins. Monkey decides to try and save Samir from the attempts on his life, to pay off a debt! If he can save Samir six times, he’ll be a free man...but will they all survive that long?

Fans of Salman Rushdie's
Haroun and 'The Sea of Stories' and 'The Little Prince' will fall in love with the bond between Monkey and Samir—in this swashbuckling all-ages page-turner.

But some have asked, is this book suited to the category it is in? The ages in the category have never been clearly defined but it was intended to be for Middle school and this is defined as Grades 6-8 (i.e. aged between 11-13). One reviewer recently suggested:

"We come to the question of audience: very very few middle schoolers are reading novels purely for the pleasure of beautiful language, and even if there are, there are books with beautiful writing that are more exciting and/or relatable. There's something to be said for stories in settings and time periods that are not commonly seen... but they have to be engaging." 

'MexiKid: A Graphic Memoir' – Pedro Martin (Author, Illustrator)

This wonderful book is a graphic novel (memoir) about a Mexican American boy’s family and their adventure-filled road trip to bring their 'Abuelito' (Grandfather) back from Mexico.

It is “one of those books that kids will pass to their friends as soon as they have finished it.”—says Victoria Jamieson, creator of the National Book Award finalist 'When Stars Are Scattered'.

"Pedro Martín has grown up hearing stories about his abuelito—his legendary crime-fighting, grandfather who was once a part of the Mexican Revolution! But that doesn't mean Pedro is excited at the news that Abuelito is coming to live with their family. After all, Pedro has 8 brothers and sisters and the house is crowded enough! Still, Pedro piles into the Winnebago with his family for a road trip to Mexico to bring Abuelito home, and what follows is the trip of a lifetime, one filled with laughs and heartache. Along the way, Pedro finally connects with his abuelito and learns what it means to grow up and find his grito.
This is an exciting book that moves at a good pace and will warm the hearts of children (& adults)!
'Simon Sort of Says' – Erin Bow (Author)

Simon O’Keeffe’s biggest claim to fame should be the time his dad accidentally gave a squirrel a holy sacrament. Or maybe the alpaca disaster that went viral on YouTube. But the story the whole world wants to tell about Simon is the one he’d do anything to forget: the story in which he’s the only kid in his class who survived a school shooting.

Just two years after this horrific event, Simon (age 12) and his family move to the only place in America where the internet is banned! It is a zone where astronomers come to listen for signs of life in space. Simon and a new friend decide to to give the scientists what they’re looking for. But will their story have 'legs'? Will it find its way to the rest of the world? 

We shouldn't be surprised that Erin Bow could produce such a wonderful story that speaks to the long term effects of trauma, and how humour can provide a way forward for sufferers. Wonderful!

Randolph Caldecott Awards

1. Randolph Caldecott Medal

'Big', written and illustrated by Vashti Harrison.

2. Caldecott Honour Books

'In Every Life', Marla Frazee (Author, Illustrator)

A simple and profound meditation on the many wonders of life from two-time Caldecott Honor recipient Marla Frazee.


This books looks at the way life can challenge us, but it can have many seasons. There is love and loss, but also "hope, joy, wonder and mystery". With beautiful illustrations and a powerful text, the creator Marla Frazee unpacks the joy and diversity of life with many parts, including rare moments and feelings, special experiences that together are the substance of life.

'Jovita Wore Pants: The Story of a Mexican Freedom Fighter', Aida Salazar (Author), Molly Mendoza (Illustrator)

This wonderful book tells the true story of Jovita Valdovinos, a Mexican revolutionary who disguised herself as a man to fight for her rights! Some comments from other reviewers:

* "Graceful . . deft . . . mesmerizing. . . . Bravery and determination prevail in this inspiring tale." Kirkus Reviews.

* "Gorgeous...hits the perfect balance of lively and lyrical...outstanding." -- School Library Journal.

* "Exquisite prose. . . . stunning spreads." -- BookPage.

Jovita refused to fit into a mould. She would not simply conform to the stereotype that the world would seek to apply to this young woman. She wanted to discard dresses and wear pants! She had many 'different' ambitions like climbing the tallest mesquite tree, riding horses and more.

As her Father and brothers joined the Cristero War to fight for religious freedom, she wanted to go, too! The answer was No! But she defied her father's rules. She would be revolutionary and "wear pants". What a remarkable story.

'There Was a Party for Langston', Jason Reynolds (Author), Jerome & Jarrett Pumphrey (Illustrator)

This wonderful book was chosen as a Caldecott Honor Book and also a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book. New York Times bestselling author Jason Reynolds’s, has given us the joy of his first children's book. 

Back in the day, there was a heckuva party, a jam, for a word-making man. The King of Letters, Langston Hughes. His ABCs became drums, bumping jumping thumping like a heart the size of the whole country. They sent some people yelling and others, his word-children, to write their own glory. 

In those days, Maya Angelou, Amiri Baraka, and more came be-bopping to recite poems at their hero’s feet at the Schomberg Library. And there would be dancing and stomping, in praise and love for Langston, world-mending word man. Oh, yeah, there was hoopla in Harlem, for its Renaissance man. A party for Langston.

This wonderful story is so well supported by the Pumphrey brothers who provide illustrations that support the text and apply stylized typography throughout. They manage to draw together the text and graphic art, and make a wonderful contribution through images to underscore the power of the subject’s poetry. 

 'The Truth About Dragons', Leung (Author), Hanna Cha (Illustrator)

 'Caldecott Honour Book' and also Winner of the 'Asian Pacific American Award for Literature'.

This is an unforgettable lyrical picture book that celebrates biracial identity. It is from Julie Leung, the award-winning author of 'Paper Son: The Inspiring Story of Tyrus Wong, Immigrant and Artist'.
Lean in close,
my darling bao bei,
and I will whisper
a most precious secret
about a powerful magic
that lives inside you.

'The Truth About Dragons' is a story that follows a child on a journey shaped by his mother's bedtime storytelling. With the help of his two grandmothers he is able to discover two different, but equally enchanting, truths about dragons as he sets out on two quests."
Hanna Cha's wonderful illustrations help to bring this wonderful story to life. And what a great story. His mother's reading of the story to him opens up the world of dragons and a wonderful journey takes place fueled by his two two grandmothers who help him discover two different, but equally enchanting, truths about dragons.



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