For immediate release | January 24, 2022

Donna Barba Higuera, Jason Chin win Newbery, Caldecott Medals

CHICAGO – Donna Barba Higuera, author of “The Last Cuentista,” and Jason Chin, illustrator of “Watercress,” are the 2022 recipients of the John Newbery and Randolph Caldecott Medals, the most prestigious awards in children’s literature.

Donna Barba Higuera and Jason Chin were among the award winners announced at 8 a.m. CT, Jan. 24, by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), during LibLearnX: The Library Learning Experience, held virtually January 21 - 24. The Newbery and Caldecott Medals honor outstanding writing and illustration of works published in the United States during the previous year.

The 2022 Newbery Medal for the most distinguished contribution to children’s literature went to Donna Barba Higuera for “The Last Cuentista,” published by Levine Querido.

One of the few chosen to escape Earth, Petra Peña awakens into a dangerously conformist society. She uses science and her abuelita’s cuentos to resist. With immersive world-building, this novel explores what it means to be human and has the staying power to inspire long after we are gone.

“Strong themes and rich characterization abound in this lush science fiction tale that showcases the universal power of storytelling to save the world,” said Newbery Medal Committee Chair Tad Andracki.

Higuera grew up in central California, escaping dust devils in the surrounding oil and agricultural fields by reading in closets. Her fiction explores young people’s complicated lives by putting them in surprising situations with humor and heart. She lives in Washington state with her family, three dogs, and two frogs.

The 2022 Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished picture book is awarded to Jason Chin for “Watercress,” written by Andrea Wang and published by Neal Porter Books, Holiday House.

While driving through rural Ohio, a Chinese American family stops to collect watercress spotted on the roadside. Embarrassed by its gathering, the daughter later comes to appreciate her culture after learning why the plant is important to her parents. Chin’s expressive watercolors complement the various layers of Wang’s poignant and universal story.

“Chin masterfully utilizes soft washes of watercolor, using both Chinese and Western techniques to express memory and culture with depth and emotion,” said Caldecott Medal Committee Chair Dr. Claudette S. McLinn

Jason Chin is an illustrator and author of children’s picture books. Chin’s family moved around when he was young and eventually settled in a small town in New Hampshire. He studied illustration at Syracuse University, started his career in New York City, and now lives in Vermont with his wife and children.

Four Newbery Honor Books were named:

“Red, White, and Whole” by Rajani LaRocca, published by Quill Tree Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

This poignant verse novel is a heartfelt exploration of Reha’s journey to find her place in the world as an Indian American, while her mother battles cancer. Strong metaphors and imagery from mythology capture Reha’s realization that what she felt divided her actually makes her whole.

“A Snake Falls to Earth” by Darcie Little Badger, published by Levine Querido.

Nina, a Lipan Apache teen, uncovers a mystery in her great-great-grandmother’s story. Meanwhile, snake person Oli from the Reflecting World sets out to save his friend. Dual narratives connect these unlikely heroes with the potential to reshape worlds. Characters written with humor and love make this speculative novel wholly singular.

“Too Bright to See” by Kyle Lukoff, published by Dial Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers, a division of Penguin Random House.

Bug is haunted by a beloved uncle in this engaging, realistic story enhanced by the paranormal. An exploration of gender, friendship, family, and coming-of-age, this mystery is unsettling, heartwarming, and affirming.

“Watercress” by Andrea Wang, illustrated by Jason Chin, and published by Neal Porter Books, Holiday House.

A young girl is mortified by her parents' insistence on stopping by a muddy roadside ditch to pick watercress, which evokes their memories of growing up in China. With poetic language, this contemplative picture book tells a dynamic family story that shows how a humble plant can connect generations.

Four Caldecott Honor Books were named:

“Have You Ever Seen a Flower?” illustrated and written by Shawn Harris, and published by Chronicle Books.

A young child leaves the drab city for a multi-sensory experience among effervescent flowers in Shawn Harris’ electric celebration - rendered through pencil, neon-colored pencil, and stencils - of our connection to, and place within, the natural world.

“Mel Fell,” illustrated and written by Corey R. Tabor, and published by Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

Mel the kingfisher takes the plunge from the top of a tree on her first flight. Innovative and delightful book design invites readers to turn the book sideways and upside-down to follow her brave journey. With impeccable comedic timing, expressive creatures, and inviting colors, Tabor inspires us all to soar.

“Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre,” illustrated by Floyd Cooper, written by Carole Boston Weatherford and published by Carolrhoda Books, an imprint of Lerner Publishing Group.

Using his signature technique of oil erasure, Tulsa native Floyd Cooper vividly rebuilds a community destroyed in “Unspeakable: the Tulsa Race Massacre.” Through breathtaking perspective, expressive figures, and a muted but glowing palette, Cooper humanizes a tragedy, speaking to readers in a pictorial voice resonant with history, heart, and hope.

“Wonder Walkers”, illustrated and written by Micha Archer, and published by Nancy Paulsen Books, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers, a division of Penguin Random House.

Over the course of a day, two children are immersed in a sensory experience that provides a visual delight for the reader. The beauty and wonder of the natural world are discovered through the thought-provoking questions the children ask themselves and through Archer’s vibrantly colored and richly layered ink-and-collage illustrations.

Members of the 2022 Newbery Medal Selection Committee are: Chair Thaddeus Andracki, University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, Chicago; Dr. Emily Aguiló-Pérez, West Chester University of Pennsylvania, West Chester, Pennsylvania; Peter Blenski, Hartland Public Library, Hartland, Wisconsin; Keary Bramwell, Grace Lutheran School, River Forest, Illinois; Skye Corey, London, Ontario, Canada; Kimberly Probert Grad, Abbot Public Library, Marblehead, Massachusetts; Susie Gray Isaac, Holly Hills Elementary, Denver; Danielle Jones, Multnomah County Library, Portland, Oregon; Sukalaya Kenworthy, Broward County Public Library, Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Kristy Kilfoyle, Canterbury School, Fort Myers, Florida; Jennie Law, Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia; Katherine Lawrence, Kent District Library, Grand Rapids, Michigan; Hadeal Salamah, Georgetown Day School, Washington, DC; Misti Tidman, Stark County District Library, Canton, Ohio; and Michelle Malia Wong Young, Hawaii State Public Library System, Waimea, Hawaii.

Members of the 2022 Caldecott Medal Selection Committee are: Dr. Claudette S. McLinn, Center for the Study of Multicultural Children's Literature, Inglewood, California; Eric Barbus, Chicago Public Library; Monica Tapia Boyer, Fox River Valley Public Library District, East Dundee, Illinois; Dr. Teffeny Y. Edmondson, Love T. Nolan Elementary School, College Park, Georgia; Deborah M. Gitlitz, Wilsonville Public Library, Watsonville, Oregon; Carol R. Goldman, Queens Public Library (retired), Briarwood, New York; Sharon Haupt, Cuesta College, San Luis Obispo, California; Laura Lutz, Corlears School, New York; Esmeralda Majors, Creighton Elementary School, Conroe, Texas; Tasha Nins, Ramsey County Library, Saint Paul, Minnesota; Jacqueline Quinn, Teaneck Public Library, Teaneck, New Jersey; Patricia Rua-Bashir, Nashville Public Library, Nashville, Tennessee; Christine Scheper, Queens Public Library, Jamaica, New York; Anna Taylor, Obvious Dad, Chattanooga Tennessee; and Renee Ting, Mountain View Public Library, California.

The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) is driven by more than 4,000 members dedicated to the support and enrichment of library service to children. Our members include youth librarians, literature experts, publishers and educational faculty. ALSC supports its members in engaging communities to build healthy, successful futures for all children. To learn more about ALSC and how to join, please visit our website at

For information on the John Newbery and Randolph Caldecott Medals and other ALA Youth Media Awards, please visit


Macey Morales

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American Library Association

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