For immediate release | January 30, 2023

Amina Luqman-Dawson, Frank Morrison win 2023 Coretta Scott King Book Awards

NEW ORLEANS — Amina Luqman-Dawson, author of “Freewater” and Frank Morrison, illustrator of “Standing in the Need of Prayer: A Modern Retelling of the Classic Spiritual” are the winners of the 2023 Coretta Scott King Book Awards honoring African American authors and illustrators of outstanding books for children and young adults. Jas Hammonds, author of “We Deserve Monuments” and Janelle Washington, illustrator of “Choosing Brave: How Mamie Till-Mobley and Emmett Till Sparked The Civil Rights Movement” are the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent winners. The awards were announced today during the American Library Association’s (ALA) LibLearnX: The Library Learning Experience held Jan. 27-30, in New Orleans.

The Coretta Scott King Book Awards are presented annually by the Coretta Scott King Book Awards Committee of the ALA’s Coretta Scott King Book Awards Round Table (CSKBART). The awards encourage the artistic expression of the African American experience via literature and the graphic arts; promote an understanding and appreciation of the Black culture and experience; and 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.

“Freewater,” published by JIMMY Patterson/Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.

After fleeing the plantation where they are enslaved, siblings Ada and Homer discover the secret community of Freewater, and work with freeborn Sanzi to protect their new home from the encroaching dangers of the outside world.

“‘Freewater’ is a beautifully written and captivating historical novel. Ms. Luqman-Dawson explores the complexities of the slave plantation and living in a secret maroon community,” said Coretta Scott King Book Awards Jury Chair Jason Driver.

“Standing in the Need of Prayer: A Modern Retelling of the Classic Spiritual,” published by Crown Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Random House.

This inspirational book encapsulates African American history and invites conversations at all levels. Carole Boston Weatherford’s riveting text and Frank Morrison’s evocative and detailed paintings are informative reminders of yesterday, hopeful images for today and aspirational dreams of tomorrow.

An acclaimed illustrator, Frank Morrison’s work can be found in numerous award-winning children’s books including Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award winner “Jazzy Miz Mozetta,” NAACP Image Award winner “Our Children Can Soar” and Coretta Scott King Illustrator winner “Little Melba and her Big Trombone.”

“Morrison’s emotional images convey, pain, hope, sorrow and dignity with a sophisticated technique that honors of each historical figure depicted in this work of excellence,” said Driver.

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 Steptoe author award goes to Jas Hammonds, author of “We Deserve Monuments,” published by Roaring Brook Press, a division of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group. This year’s Steptoe illustrator award goes to Janelle Washington, illustrator of “Choosing Brave: How Mamie Till-Mobley and Emmett Till Sparked the Civil Rights Movement,” published by Roaring Brook Press, a division of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group.

“Hammond’s debut is powerful, complex, compelling, and relatable. Good stories show versus tell. Hammond does this by immediately bringing us into Avery’s life, weaving a story of intergenerational relationships and bonds between mothers and daughters and granddaughters with the reality of not distant racial violence marking the family,” said Driver.

“Washington’s paper-cutting technique in this moving, beautiful, dramatic and powerful book complements the weighty, gut-wrenching story of bravery and triumph over hate. Washington’s consistent use of line, color and composition match the resolve, steadfastness and power of Mamie Till-Mobley’s mission,” said Driver.

Three King Author Honor Books were selected:

“Star Child: A Biographical Constellation of Octavia Estelle Butler,” by Ibi Zoboi and published by Dutton Children’s Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

“The Talk,” by Alicia D. Williams, illustrated by Briana Mukodiri Uchendu and published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing Division.

“Victory. Stand!: Raising My Fist for Justice,” by Tommie Smith and Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Dawud Anyabwile and published by Norton Young Readers, an imprint of W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

Three Illustrator Honor Books were selected:

“Me and the Boss: A Story About Mending and Love,” illustrated by April Harrison, written by Michelle Edwards and published by Anne Schwartz Books, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Random House.

“Swim Team,” illustrated and written by Johnnie Christmas, and published by HarperAlley, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

“Victory. Stand!: Raising My Fist for Justice,” illustrated by Dawud Anyabwile, written by Tommie Smith, Derrick Barnes and published by Norton Young Readers, an imprint of W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

Members of the 2023 Coretta Scott King Book Awards Jury are: Chair Jason Miles Driver, Kitsap Regional Library, Washington; Carmen Boston, DC Public Library, District of Columbia; Tamela Chambers, Chicago Public Library; Edith Ching, Maryland; Jina DuVernay, Georgia; Mahasin Jullanar Abuwi Aleem, Contra Costa County Library, California; Lettycia Terrones, California.

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

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