Tuesday, January 24, 2017

2017 ALA Youth Media Awards news stories

Here are some exciting news stories from yesterday’s American Library Association’s Youth Media Awards. The full press release and award list can be found here.

Award sweep
March 3 won FOUR awards. That means that four separate committees in four separate rooms, across multiple ALA divisions (YALSA, ALSC and EMIERT) and multiple age group requirements all came to the same conclusion that March 3 was the very best of all their eligible books. Not one of the four committees gave it an honor; all four gave it their top prize. Unbelievable. And, don’t forget, March 3 also won the National Book Award. Truly, an unprecedented sweep.

Caldecott Hat Trick
The 2015 Caldecott Medal went to Beekle, published by Little, Brown.
The 2016 Caldecott Medal went to Finding Winnie, published by Little, Brown.
The 2017 Caldecott Medal went to Radiant Child, published by Little, Brown.

Sensing a pattern? It is a very big deal for a publisher to win the Caldecott Medal. To do it two years in a row is unbelievable. To do it three years in a row is mind-boggling. Truly Little, Brown has upped the ante. 

Graphic Novels
Ten years ago, when American Born Chinese won the Printz Medal, it was an enormous turning point. Yesterday, a decade after that moment, the second graphic novel won the Printz award. Also yesterday, a graphic novel won the Sibert, the Belpre, the YALSA Nonfiction Award and the Coretta Scott King Award. There was even an Odyssey (audio book) honor for a graphic novel. In the last few years, both the Newbery and Caldecott committees have honored graphic novels. Now, there are almost no awards left that haven’t recognized a graphic novel. It’s a new world. 
Small publishers
Yesterday was a big, big day for publishing houses that don’t usually win. It was so joyful to hear names like Chronicle, Charlesbridge, Abrams, Carolrhoda, Orca, Top Shelf Productions and Enchanted Lion be announced.

The biggest story was the Newbery Medal. Workman Publishing publishes terrific books, many of which you’ve probably heard of. But they only recently started published middle grade books and they never show up on the award lists. To see them carry off the biggest prize of the day was an absolutely incredible thing. I can’t begin to imagine what it means to the publisher.

Fathers and sons
Javaka Steptoe, who won the Caldecott and Coretta Scott King Medals yesterday, is the son of two-time Caldecott honor and Coretta Scott King recipient John Steptoe. John Steptoe died in 1989 but wouldn’t it be wonderful if he could find out what his son accomplished yesterday.

Prior to this, the one that has always impressed me was the Fleischmans. Sid Fleischman won the Newbery Medal in 1987, and then a mere 2 years later in 1989 his son Paul Fleischman won the Newbery Medal. What an amazing thing.

Popular authors
Bestselling and popular authors rarely win awards. It was so lovely to see Rick Riordan and Sarah Dessen get recognition yesterday.

Jason Reynolds
This talented new writer is gathering up hardware at an incredibly rapid pace. Only two years ago (although it seems like it’s been much longer), he was a debut author and won the John Steptoe Award for New Talent. Last year he won two Coretta Scott King honors. Yesterday, he added the Schneider Family Book Award, a Coretta Scott King honor and one of his audiobooks won an Odyssey honor.

I think he’s trying to collect the whole Youth Media Awards set.

Ashley Bryan
Speaking of collecting the whole set…

The nonagenarian took home one of the big prizes yesterday, a Newbery honor. He also picked up two additional Coretta Scott King Award honors, one for writing and one for illustration. For anyone keeping score at home, Ashley Bryan has also won the Wilder Medal, the Virginia Hamilton Award, the Arbuthnot, two Coretta Scott King Awards and seven CSK honors.  

It’s worth noting that both Ashley Bryan and Jason Reynolds have the same editor, Caitlyn Dlouhy of Atheneum, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.

For all the hubbub last year over a picture book winning the Newbery Medal, it seems to be passing unnoticed that a poetry picture book won a Newbery Honor yesterday.

Elephant and Piggie
The Geisel domination of Elephant and Piggie isn’t quite over, even though the series is.  We Are Growing! A Mo Willems’ Elephant and Piggie Like Reading! book carried the day. The beloved pink and grey folks only make a cameo in this one, but it looks like their Geisel reign has not come to an end.

A picture book biography won the Caldecott for the second year in a row, but it doesn’t happen very often. Only a handful of non-fiction books have won the Caldecott, so it is still a big event.

Also, for only the second time, the same book won both the Sibert Medal (up to age 14) and the YALSA Nonfiction Award (ages 12-18). I think it’s an enormous thing that both nonfiction committees judged March 3 the best book of all their submissions, despite having different age requirements.

Your reactions

What did you think? I would love to hear your thoughts. Did I miss something exciting or unprecedented that happened? Tell me in the comments.

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