Woodson, Myers win 2015 Coretta Scott King Book Awards

For Immediate Release
Mon, 02/02/2015


Macey Morales

Media Relations Manager

American Library Association



CHICAGO – Jacqueline Woodson, author of “brown girl dreaming” and Christopher Myers, illustrator of “Firebird” are the winners of the 2015 Coretta Scott King Book Awards honoring African American authors and illustrators of outstanding books for children and young adults. Jason Reynolds, author of “When I was the Greatest”  is the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent winner. The awards were announced today at the American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Meeting, being held Jan. 30 – Feb. 3 in Chicago and will be presented in San Francisco at the ALA Annual Conference in June.

The Coretta Scott King Book Awards are presented annually by the Coretta Scott King Book Awards Committee of the ALA’s Ethnic and Multicultural Information Exchange Round Table (EMIERT) to encourage the artistic expression of the African American experience via literature and the graphic arts; to promote an understanding and appreciation of the black culture and experience, and to commemorate the life and legacy of Mrs. Coretta Scott King for her courage and determination in supporting the work of her husband, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., for peace and world brotherhood.

“brown girl dreaming” published by Nancy Paulson Books, published by the Penguin Group, Penguin Group (USA) LLC is an absorbing free verse memoir of a young girl growing up black and female in the 1960s and ‘70s full of arresting details and vivid imagery. Her choice of events and memories incorporate important historical events and her own evolution into the award-winning writer she has become.

From the time she was a child scribbling her name, Woodson told stories both true and not so true. After graduating from Adelphi University, she published her first book in 1990. Winner of many book awards, most recently the 2014 National Book Award Young People’s Literature, her published works range from picture books to young adult novels.

“Woodson’s lyrical, free verse memoir, reflecting her voice, her history and her growth as a storyteller, pulled jurors into her family’s stories” said Coretta Scott King Book Awards Jury Chair Kim Patton.

In “Firebird” written by Copeland and published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons, published by the Penguin Group, Penguin Group USA, the illustrations of Myers depict the brilliant colorful world of the ballerina with its dancers on en pointe.

“The vibrant lines and colors mirror the movement of Copeland’s “Firebird”, says Patton.  “Encased in gorgeous collages and endpaper, balletic poses, leaping and bounding into the air at tremendous heights spur the imagination and inspire a young girl’s hopes and dreams,” said Patton.

Born in New York, Myers is a graduate of Brown University. He also participated in the Whitney Museum of Art Independent Studio Program. His illustrations have received numerous awards, including a Caldecott Honor, and four Coretta Scott King Honors. Meyers lives in Brooklyn, where, in addition to his illustrating children’s books, he is also a photographer and clothing designer. 

The Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent affirms new talent and offers visibility for excellence in writing and/or illustration at the beginning of a career as a published African American creator of children’s books.  This year’s winner is “When I was the greatest” written by Jason Reynolds,published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division.  

Reynolds' lively and engaging portrayal of urban teenage boys is a compelling story about neighborhood, family, friendship, values and the acceptance of difference.

Living in an underserved neighborhood in Brooklyn, Allen/Ali befriends Noodles and his brother Needles, who has Tourette syndrome. In an authentic contemporary voice, Reynolds focuses on the importance of family, the acceptance of responsibility and the obligations of friendship and portrays a likeable teenager learning how to be a good man.

Three King Author Honor Books were selected:

 “The Crossover” by Kwame Alexander and published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

“How I Discovered Poetry” by Marilyn Nelson, illustrated by Hadley Hooper and published by Dial Books, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) LLC.

“How It Went Down” by Kekla Magoon, and published by Henry Holt and Company, LLC.

Two Illustrator Honor Books were selected:

“JOSEPHINE: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker” illustrated by Christian Robinson written by Patricia Hruby Powell and published by Chronicle Books LLC.

“Little Melba and Her Big Trombone” illustrated by Frank Morrison, written by Katheryn Russell-Brown and published by Lee and Low Books, Inc.

Members of the 2015 Coretta Scott King Book Awards Jury are: Chair Kim Patton, Kansas City,  (Kan.) Public Library; Rose Dawson, Alexandria (Va.) Library; Christina Dorr, Ph.D., Hilliard City School District, Hilliard, Ohio; Ruth Newell, Fountaindale Public Library, Bolingbrook, Ill.; Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop, Emeritus, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio; Barbara Spears, Ed.D., retired, Bowie, Md.; and Martha Walke, Children’s Literature New England, South Strafford, Vt.

The American Library Association is the oldest and largest library association in the world with more than 55,000 members. Its mission is to provide leadership for the development, promotion and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.

For information on the Coretta Scott King Book Awards and other ALA Youth Media Awards, please visit www.ilovelibraries.org/yma.


Macey Morales
Media Relations Manager

Heather Cho
Media Relations Specialist