The Newbery Medal was named for eighteenth-century British bookseller John Newbery. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.
2021 Medal Winner
When You Trap a Tiger, written by Tae Keller, published by Random House Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Random House.
This masterpiece of magical realism is an evocative story of love, loss, and hope that brings Korean folklore to life. Through her halmoni’s tales, Lily learns that with stories we can share our past and shape our future.
“Keller’s riveting tale about the power of stories can help readers embrace the tiger within themselves—by displaying their strength and courage when necessary,” said Newbery Medal Committee Chair Dr. Jonda C. McNair.
2021 Honor Books
All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys’ Soccer Team, written by Christina Soontornvat, published by Candlewick Press.
Soontornvat skillfully describes the dramatic real-life rescue of the Thai Boys’ soccer team in 2018 by highlighting the teamwork of the cave divers and the drilling and medical teams which were crucial for the survival of the coach and the twelve boys. All Thirteen exemplifies superb narrative nonfiction writing.
BOX: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom, written by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Michele Wood, and published by Candlewick Press.
Weatherford masterfully recounts the true story of Henry “Box” Brown, who shipped himself to freedom in a box. All 51 poems, with the exception of one, are sixains—representing the six sides of a box. The poems are filled with emotional intensity and have implications for the present day.
Fighting Words, written by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, published by Dial Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Random House.
Della depends on her fierce older sister Suki, especially after escaping an abusive home. In foster care, though, Suki begins to unravel. Bradley creates a survival story that transcends—addressing the toughest of topics with honesty, hope, and humor. Della’s powerful voice lingers long after the last page is turned.
We Dream of Space, written by Erin Entrada Kelly, illustrated by Erin Entrada Kelly and Celia Krampien, and published by Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
In the days before the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster, the Thomas siblings navigate the dangerous space of middle school and the fractured constellation of their family. With a deftly constructed 80’s backdrop, Kelly’s realistically imperfect characters struggle to connect, only finding success when they abandon their own lonely orbits.
A Wish in the Dark, written by Christina Soontornvat, published by Candlewick Press.
Told in the alternating perspectives of two memorable characters, Pong and Nok, Soontornvat sets this story in the Thai-inspired world of Chattana, where light and dark symbolize contrasts between the rich and the poor. A timeless, yet timely, fantasy that highlights social disparities and the value of friendship and justice.
Members of the 2021 Newbery Medal Selection Committee are: Chair Dr. Jonda C. McNair, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio; Sarah Bean Thompson, Springfield-Greene County Library, Springfield, Missouri; Elizabeth A. Burns, New Jersey State Library, Talking Book & Braille Center, Trenton, New Jersey; Timothy D. Capehart, Beavercreek Community Library, Greene County, Ohio; Arika J. Dickens, Sunset Elementary School, Bellevue, Washington; Joanna K. Fabicon, Los Angeles Public Library, Los Angeles, California; Hyunjin Han, Mandel Public Library, West Palm Beach, Florida; Susan Dove Lempke, Niles-Maine District Library, Niles, Illinois; Maren C. Ostergard, King County Library System, Issaquah, Washington; Dr. Linda M. Pavonetti, Oakland University, Rochester, Michigan; David C. Saia, Heim Middle School, Williamsville, New York; Jo Phillips Schofield, Stark County District Library, Canton, Ohio; Eva Thaler-Sroussi, Wellesley Free Library, Wellesley, Massachusetts; Lisa M. Thomas, Pikes Peak Library District, Colorado Springs, Colorado; Alicia S.Q. Yao, San Diego Public Library, San Diego, California; and Award Administrative Assistant Gretchen Schulz, Schaumburg Township District Library, Schaumburg, Illinois.
The Newbery and Caldecott Medals and Honor Book seals are property of the American Library Association and cannot be used in any form or reproduced without permission of the ALA Office of Rights and Permissions.