It’s a month into 2017, and the American Library Association has rolled out the red carpet for their biggest stars: authors, illustrators, librarians, publishers, and of course, BOOKS!
For those Newbery Newbs out there: The ALA Youth Media Awards are like the Academy Awards or Super Bowl for kids literature, and their big award is the John Newbery Medal. The award is given out to a book published in 2016, and the selection committee is comprised of MVPs of books: librarians from around the country!
Check out this year’s winners (descriptions provided by the publishers):
JOHN NEWBERY MEDAL WINNER
The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill
Every year, the people of the Protectorate leave a baby as an offering to the witch who lives in the forest. They hope this sacrifice will keep her from terrorizing their town. But the witch in the forest, Xan, is kind and gentle. She shares her home with a wise Swamp Monster named Glerk and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon, Fyrian. Xan rescues the abandoned children and delivers them to welcoming families on the other side of the forest, nourishing the babies with starlight on the journey.
One year, Xan accidentally feeds a baby moonlight instead of starlight, filling the ordinary child with extraordinary magic. Xan decides she must raise this enmagicked girl, whom she calls Luna, as her own. To keep young Luna safe from her own unwieldy power, Xan locks her magic deep inside her. When Luna approaches her 13th birthday, her magic begins to emerge on schedule — but Xan is far away. Meanwhile, a young man from the Protectorate is determined to free his people by killing the witch. Soon, it is up to Luna to protect those who have protected her — even if it means the end of the loving, safe world she’s always known.
NEWBERY HONOR BOOKS
Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life by Ashley Bryan written and illustrated by Ashley Bryan
Using original slave auction and plantation estate documents, Ashley Bryan offers a moving and powerful picture book that contrasts the monetary value of a slave with the priceless value of life experiences and dreams that a slave owner could never take away.
Imagine being looked up and down and being valued as less than chair. Less than an ox. Less than a dress. Maybe about the same as… a lantern.
You, an object. An object to sell.
In his gentle yet deeply powerful way, Ashley Bryan goes to the heart of how a slave is given a monetary value by the slave owner, tempering this with the one thing that CAN’T be bought or sold — dreams. Inspired by the actual will of a plantation owner that lists the worth of each and every one of his “workers,” Bryan has created collages around that document, and others like it. Through fierce paintings and expansive poetry he imagines and interprets each person’s life on the plantation, as well as the life their owner knew nothing about — their dreams and pride in knowing that they were worth far more than an Overseer or Madam ever would guess. Visually epic, and never before done, this stunning picture book is unlike anything you’ve seen.
The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog written by Adam Gidwitz, illustrated by Hatem Aly
An exciting and hilarious medieval adventure from the bestselling author of A Tale Dark and Grimm.
1242. On a dark night, travelers from across France cross paths at an inn and begin to tell stories of three children. Their adventures take them on a chase through France: They are taken captive by knights, sit alongside a king, and save the land from a farting dragon. On the run to escape prejudice and persecution and save precious and holy texts from being burned, their quest drives them forward to a final showdown at Mont Saint-Michel, where all will come to question if these children can perform the miracles of saints.
Join William, an oblate on a mission from his monastery; Jacob, a Jewish boy who has fled his burning village; and Jeanne, a peasant girl who hides her prophetic visions. They are accompanied by Jeanne’s loyal greyhound, Gwenforte… recently brought back from the dead. Told in multiple voices, in a style reminiscent of The Canterbury Tales, our narrator collects their stories and the saga of these three unlikely allies begins to come together.
Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk
Growing up in the shadows cast by two world wars, Annabelle has lived a mostly quiet, steady life in her small Pennsylvania town. Until the day new student Betty Glengarry walks into her class. Betty quickly reveals herself to be cruel and manipulative, and while her bullying seems isolated at first, things quickly escalate, and reclusive World War I veteran Toby becomes a target of her attacks. While others have always seen Toby’s strangeness, Annabelle knows only kindness. She will soon need to find the courage to stand as a lone voice of justice as tensions mount.
Brilliantly crafted, Wolf Hollow is a haunting tale of America at a crossroads and a time when one girl’s resilience, strength, and compassion help to illuminate the darkest corners of our history.
Which books have you already read, or are most interested in reading? Vote in the poll below!