For immediate release | January 23, 2012

Kadir Nelson, Shane W. Evans win 2012 Coretta Scott King Book Awards

DALLAS – Kadir Nelson, author of “Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans,” and Shane W. Evans, illustrator of “Underground: Finding the Light to Freedom,” are the winners of the 2012 Coretta Scott King Book Awards honoring African American authors and illustrators of outstanding books for children and young adults. The awards were announced today at the American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Meeting, being held Jan. 20 – 24 in Dallas and will be presented in Anaheim 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.

“Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans” published by Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, is an extensive volume focusing on American history as it intertwines with the lives of African Americans. The story is told from the viewpoint of an elderly woman who shares her life story while highlighting pivotal historical events including Abolition, the Great Migration, World War II and the Civil Rights movement.

Kadir Nelson is the author and illustrator of several award-winning children’s books including “We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball,” “Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom” and “Ellington Was Not a Street.” He lives in Southern California with his family. “Mr. Nelson was selected because of his engaging and extensive description of African American history and the strong narrative voice,” said Coretta Scott King Book Awards Jury Chair Dr. Jonda C. McNair.

In “Underground: Finding the Light to Freedom,” illustrated and written by Shane W. Evans, a Neal Porter Book, published by Roaring Brook Press, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishing Holdings Limited Partnership, effective interplay of dark and light—dark blues and greens that represent fear and oppression; bright golds that signal the joy of freedom—characterizes this portrayal of a band of slaves’ nighttime escape. They run, rest, get help from others, and finally celebrate their hard-won liberation.

“Mr. Evans presents the difficult topic of slavery in a visually engaging manner for young children,” said McNair.

Shane W. Evans is the illustrator of several children’s books including “Homemade Love” and “Shanna’s Ballerina Show” the latter received the prestigious Boston Globe-Horn Book Award. He lives in Kansas City, Missouri.

Two Coretta Scott Book Awards Author Honor recipients were selected:

“The Great Migration: Journey to the North,” by Eloise Greenfield, illustrated by Jan Spivey Gilchrist and published by Amistad, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

“Never Forgotten,” by Patricia C. McKissack, illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon and published by Schwartz & Wade Books, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc.

One Coretta Scott King Book Awards Illustrator Honor recipient was selected:

“Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans,” illustrated by Kadir Nelson, and published by Balzar + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

Members of the 2012 Coretta Scott King Book Awards Jury are: Chair Dr. Jonda C. McNair, Clemson (S.C.) University; Dr. Lesley Colabucci, Millersville (Pa.)University.; Mary Cooper, Children’s Literature Specialist and Consultant, Forestville, Md.; Eboni Curry, Martin Luther King Jr. Library, Washington, D.C.; Dr. Cora P. Dunkley, University of South Florida, Tampa, Fla.; Diane Foote, Dominican University, River Forest, Ill; Debra S. Gold, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Shaker Heights, Ohio.

The American Library Association is the oldest and largest library association in the world with approximately 60,000 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



Macey Morales

Media Relations Manager

American Library Association