ALA Midwinter Meeting, Youth Media Awards

The final day of ALA Midwinter Meeting is the morning when the Youth Media Awards are announced!


I got up early and went to the awards and enjoyed the celebration of books! It’s a tremendous place to be – so much energy and excitement about wonderful books being honored. You can find a list of all the award winners at

Before announcing the awards they showed a message from the recently announced new Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, Gene Luen Yang.


The message was directed to Librarians, telling us how important we are because we match people with books they love.


He definitely made the crowd there happy!


I’ll comment on a few things from the awards.

Jerry Pinkney won both the Coretta Scott King – Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award for a substantial and lasting contribution for children’s literature. Reaction in the hall was surprise that he hadn’t already won either award. They are both well-deserved honors. I have heard Jerry Pinkney speak many times, and he comes across as a wonderful warm and caring person with a love for art and a love for children. How wonderful that he was doubly honored this year.

Another wonderful person who was honored was Jacqueline Woodson. She will present the 2017 May Hill Arbuthnot Lecture. This is an honor that comes with a requirement to work hard. The lecture is to be a significant work on children’s literature.

David Levithan won the Margaret A. Edwards Award, which is YALSA’s award for lifetime achievement.

There’s something in me that’s happy that a book about a transgender child, George, by Alex Gino, won the Stonewall Book Award.

For the Caldecott, right when I first read it early last year, I’d had hopes that Sophie Blackall would win for illustrating A Fine Dessert. However, objections to how some slaves were depicted having a happy moment together in one of the four episodes of the book started some controversy. Sophie Blackall still won though, but for Finding Winnie. (My review is written, but not posted yet. Soon!)

The funny thing to me about Finding Winnie is that it was the second book about the bear who inspired Winnie-the-Pooh to be published in 2016. In fact, because the first book, Winnie, was so good, I didn’t want to enjoy Finding Winnie as much as I did. But it is so wonderful, I fell in love, and am very happy about that Caldecott. I’m only kicking myself for not naming it a Sonderbooks Stand-out. The truth is that I had a hard time deciding between the two history-of-Winnie-the-Pooh books and ended up listing neither.

I hadn’t read as many middle grade novels as usual this year, so I didn’t expect to necessarily have read the Newbery winner. In fact, I haven’t read any of the Honor books yet. (Even though I got an Advance Reader’s Copy of The War That Saved My Life at ALA Midwinter last year! It won Newbery Honor, a Schneider Family Award, and the Odyssey Award.)

However, I was on the Fiction Picture Books panel for the Cybils Awards, and one of our finalists won the Newbery Medal! Yes, the first picture book chosen to win, and the first Latino winner was The Last Stop on Market Street, by Matt de la Pena. The illustrator, Christian Robinson, won Caldecott Honor and Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor.

Be sure to read this article about Matt de la Pena from 2013. He finished reading his first novel in college — and that ended up changing his life. And he brings that message to kids today. He writes plenty of novels — what a wonderful surprise that he won the Newbery Medal with a picture book — a truly wonderful and deserving picture book.

How can a picture book win the Newbery Medal? Well, the criteria states that it’s the most distinguished contribution to literature for children in the award year, with consideration mainly given to the text. The text is evaluated based on criteria of excellence in various things, and books are rated based on the audience they are for. The writing in Last Stop on Market Street is poetic and beautifully conveys the story of a kid and his grandmother riding the bus to the soup kitchen after church. The pictures do not detract.

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