CHICAGO - Kwame Alexander, author of “The Crossover,” and Dan Santat, illustrator of “The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend,” are the 2015 winners of the John Newbery and Randolph Caldecott Medals, the most prestigious awards in children’s literature.
Alexander and Santat were among the award winners announced Feb. 2, by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), during the ALA Midwinter Meeting in Chicago, Jan. 30 – Feb. 3. The Newbery and Caldecott Medals honor outstanding writing and illustration of works published in the United States during the previous year.
The 2015 Newbery Medal for the most distinguished contribution to children’s literature went to Kwame Alexander for “The Crossover,” published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Twelve-year-old narrator Josh Bell uses the rhythms of a poetry jam to emulate the "moving & grooving/popping and rocking" of life on the basketball court with his twin brother, J.B. This powerful novel in verse paints an authentic portrait of a closely-knit family on the brink of crisis. Swish! This book is nothing but net!
“Our 15-member committee worked diligently and thoughtfully to determine the 2015 Newbery Medal winner,” said Committee Chair Randall Enos.
A resident of Herndon, Va., Alexander has previously published “He Said, She Said,” as well as “Acoustic Rooster and His Barnyard Band” and “Indigo Blume and the Garden City,” both NAACP Image Award Nominees. He is also a published playwright and poet.
The 2015 Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished picture book is awarded to Dan Santat for “The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend,” written by Dan Santat and published by Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.
In four delightful “visual chapters,” Beekle, an imaginary friend, undergoes an emotional journey looking for his human. Santat uses fine details, kaleidoscopic saturated colors, and exquisite curved and angular lines to masterfully convey the emotional essence of this special childhood relationship.
“Santat makes the unimaginable, imaginable,” said Caldecott Medal Committee Chair Junko Yokota.
Dan Santat, born in Brooklyn, resides in California. He is the winner of the Silver Medal from the Society of Illustrators for “Oh No! (Or How My Science Project Destroyed the World)” by Mac Barnett.
Two Newbery Honor Books were named:
“El Deafo” by Cece Bell, published by Amulet Books, an imprint of ABRAMS.
In this insightful and humorous graphic novel memoir, Cece Bell portrays growing up with a giant hearing aid strapped to her chest. Themes of navigating a new school, sleepovers, finding a true friend and a first crush make this book universal in appeal. Bell shows that our differences are gifts that “can be turned into something amazing.”
“Brown Girl Dreaming” by Jacqueline Woodson and published by Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) LLC.
Jacqueline Woodson’s lyrical memoir chronicles the incidents and emotions she experienced as an African-American girl growing up in the 1960s and 1970s. Precise language magnifies moments and connects them to the larger historical narrative. Her elegant and evocative stand-alone poems weave a story about her development from a struggling reader and dreamer into a confident young woman and writer.
Six Caldecott Honor Books were named:
"Nana in the City," written and illustrated by Lauren Castillo and published by Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Castillo’s evocative watercolor illustrations tell the story of a young boy’s visit to his grandmother, and the reassuring way she helps him to lose his fear and experience the busy, loud city in a new way.
"The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky's Abstract Art,” illustrated by Mary GrandPré, written by Barb Rosenstock and published by Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York. Abstract artist Vasily Kandinsky experienced colors as sounds and sounds as colors; he created work that was bold and groundbreaking using colors from his "noisy paint box.” His process is reflected beautifully by GrandPré, whose paint flows across the page in ethereal ribbons of color.
"Sam & Dave Dig a Hole,” illustrated by Jon Klassen, written by Mac Barnett and published by Candlewick Press. Klassen’s use of texture, shape and earth tones in this deceptively simple book invite readers into the experience of two boys, who, accompanied by their dog, set out to dig a hole. Readers will find an unexpected treasure and be challenged to ponder the meaning of “spectacular.”
"Viva Frida," illustrated and written by Yuyi Morales and published by Roaring Brook Press, a Neal Porter Book. Using a unique variety of media - puppetry, printmaking, painting and photography - combined with an intoxicating use of color and unfailing sense of composition, Morales celebrates the artistic process.
"The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus,” illustrated by Melissa Sweet, written by Jen Bryant and published by Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Sweet’s inspired mixed media illustrations illuminate the personality and work of a man passionately interested in many things. Her collages combine disparate elements to create a cohesive whole, echoing the ways in which Roget ordered the world into lists that evolved into his groundbreaking thesaurus.
"This One Summer,” illustrated by Jillian Tamaki, written by Mariko Tamaki and published by First Second. Intricately detailed illustrations in shades of indigo are masterfully layered with the text in this graphic novel. The pacing and strong imagery evoke myriad emotions and ground this poignant and painfully realistic coming-of-age story.
Members of the 2015 Newbery Medal Selection Committee are: Chair Randall Enos, Ramapo Catskill Library System, Middletown, N.Y.; Armin Arethna, Berkeley (Calif.) Public Library; Stephanie Bange, Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio; Eti Berland, Hebrew Theological College, Chicago; Therese Bigelow, Coupeville, Wash.; Jennifer Brown, Bank Street College of Education, New York; Patrick Gall, Catherine Cook School, Chicago; Lolly Gepson, Northbrook (Ill.) Public Library; Abby Johnson, New Albany (Ind.) Floyd County Public Library; Yapha Mason, Brentwood School, Los Angeles; Shelley Quezada, Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, Boston; Stan Steiner, Boise (Idaho) State University; Sylvia Tag, Western Washington University, Bellingham, Wash.; Janet Thompson, Chicago Public Library; and Lucinda Whitehurst, St. Christopher’s School, Richmond, Va.
Members of the 2015 Caldecott Medal Selection Committee are: Chair Junko Yokota, Center for Teaching through Children’s Books, Skokie, Ill.; Lucia Acosta, Princeton (N.J.) Public Library; Tali Balas Kaplan, Success Academy Charter School, Bronx, N.Y.; Bradley Debrick, Johnson County Library, Overland Park, Kan.; Alison Ernst, University Liggett School, Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich.; Adrienne Furness, Henrietta Public Library, Rochester, N.Y.; Jonathan Hunt, San Diego (Calif.) County Office of Education; Rebecca Jackman, New Providence Middle School, Clarksville, Tenn.; Roger Kelly, Santa Monica (Calif.) Public Library; Barbara Klipper, Stamford, Conn.; Susan Kusel, Temple Rodef Shalom Library, Falls Church, Va.; Amy Lilien-Harper, Ferguson Library Harry Bennett Branch, Stamford, Conn.; Sharon McKellar, Oakland (Calif.) Public Library; Shilo Pearson, Chicago Public Library; and Angela Reynolds, Annapolis Valley Regional Library, Nova Scotia, Canada.
ALSC is the world’s largest organization dedicated to the support and enhancement of library service to children. With a network of more than 4,000 children’s and youth librarians, literature experts, publishers and educational faculty, ALSC is committed to creating a better future for children through libraries. To learn more about ALSC, visit their website at www.ala.org/alsc.
For information on the John Newbery and Randolph Caldecott Medals and other ALA Youth Media Awards, please visit www.ala.org/yma.
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