Erin Entrada Kelly, Matthew Cordell win Newbery, Caldecott Medals

For Immediate Release
Mon, 02/12/2018


Communications and Marketing Office

ALA Media Relations


DENVER — Erin Entrada Kelly, author of “Hello, Universe” and Matthew Cordell, illustrator of “Wolf in the Snow” are the 2018 winners of the John Newbery and Randolph Caldecott Medals, the most prestigious awards in children’s literature.

Kelly and Cordell were among the award winners announced Feb. 12 by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), during the ALA Midwinter Meeting & Exhibits, Feb. 9–13, Denver. The Newbery and Caldecott Medals honor outstanding writing and illustration of works published in the United States during the previous year.

The 2018 Newbery Medal for the most distinguished contribution to children’s literature went to Erin Entrada Kelly for “Hello, Universe,” published by Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

Filipino folklore and real life converge at the bottom of a well. Even while following signs and portents, the characters are the definition of creative agency. Masterfully told through shifting points of view, this modern quest tale shimmers with humor and authentic emotion.

“This reading community celebrates the panoply of American literature for children published in 2017. We are delighted to share our selections with the world,” said Newbery Medal Committee Chair Cecilia P. McGowan.

Erin Entrada Kelly was raised in Lake Charles, Louisiana, but now lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her mother is Visayan and lives in Cebu in the Philippines, which is why many of Erin’s Filipino characters speak Cebuano rather than Tagalog.

The 2018 Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished picture book is awarded to Matthew Cordell for “Wolf in the Snow,” published by Feiwel and Friends, an Imprint of Macmillan.

In this spare, nearly wordless picture book, a girl and a wolf cub each get lost in the snow and rescue each other. Cordell uses pen and ink and watercolor wash to capture the frenzied snowfall and the brave girl’s frantic, frightful journey. Fairy tale elements and a strong sense of color and geometry offer an engrossing, emotionally charged story.

“HOOOOOWWLLLL!!” said Caldecott Medal Committee Chair Tish Wilson. “Committee members were astonished that a deceptively simple book could be such a dramatic story of survival.”

Matthew Cordell, born in Greenville, S.C., currently lives in a suburb of Chicago with his wife, novelist Julie Halpern, and their two children. He is the author and illustrator of “Trouble Gum,” “Another Brother,” “hello! hello!,” and “Wish,” and he has illustrated the books of other renowned authors. 

Three Newbery Honor Books were named:

“Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut,” written by Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Gordon C. James, Published by Bolden, an Agate imprint, a Denene Millner Book.

A boy walks into a barbershop; a prince walks out. Through lyrical free verse, Derrick Barnes’ joyous paean celebrates the universal, transformative, confidence-building experience of a great haircut.

“Long Way Down,” written by Jason Reynolds, published by Atheneum, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, a Caitlyn Dlouhy Book.

Terse, sharp verse depicts a desperate teenager seeking to avenge the shooting death of his brother. Gun tucked into his waistband, he is shocked by the appearance of childhood friends and relatives on a chilling sixty-second elevator ride. Visceral language and raw emotion result in a powerful novel of grief and vengeance.

“Piecing Me Together,” written by Renée Watson, published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books.

“I am learning to speak. To give myself a way out. A way in.” Jade’s mixed media collages evolve as she finds her voice. Through artful and poetic language, Watson explores themes of race, class, gender and body image in this dynamic journey. 

Four Caldecott Honor Books were named:

“Big Cat, little cat,” illustrated and written by Elisha Cooper, published by Roaring Brook Press, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishing Holdings Limited Partnership.

Simple and joyful domestic routines underscore the deeply entwined lives of two feline companions and the impact of loss on one. Cooper uses expressive black-and-white line art with strategic, evocative washes of color to convey the reassuring circular nature of life. 

“Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut,” illustrated by Gordon C. James and written by Derrick Barnes, published by Bolden, an Agate Imprint, a Denene Millner Book.

Sometimes a haircut is so much more than just a haircut. Sometimes a haircut makes you royalty. A love-letter to the contemporary barbershop experience and the empowerment it affords, Gordon C. James’s impressionistic oil paintings capture every bit of the bravado, swagger, and joy of this African-American institution.

“A Different Pond,” illustrated by Thi Bui and written by Bao Phi, published by Capstone Young Readers, a Capstone imprint.

An early morning fishing trip between father and son provides food for that evening’s dinner and time to reflect on a similar pond in Vietnam. Bui’s evocative thick black ink brushstrokes with graphic novel panels create a cinematic experience, powerfully capturing facial expressions, mood, and quiet moments. Based on the experiences of both the Vietnamese American illustrator and author, this story depicts the immigrant experience as well as universal themes of family, love, and survival.

“Grand Canyon,” illustrated and written by Jason Chin, a Neal Porter Book, published by Roaring Brook Press, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishing Holdings Limited Partnership. 

An Asian-American father and daughter explore this national park, from the Inner Gorge to the South Rim. Chin uses watercolor, gouache and pen and ink to render sweeping landscapes, culminating in an epic gatefold panorama. Diagrams, die-cuts and field-guide inspired illustrations of animals, plants and fossils reveal the multiple layers and eons of formation.

Members of the 2018 Newbery Medal Selection Committee are: Cecilia P. McGowan, King County Library System, Issaquah, Wash.; Mara J. Alpert, Los Angeles Public Library; Thaddeus Andracki, University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, Chicago; Ann Crewdson, Issaquah (Wash.) Library–King County Library System; Janice M. Del Negro, Dominican University SOIS, River Forest, Ill.; Susan A. Giffard, Ethical Culture School, New York; Carol R. Goldman, Queens Library at Forest Hills, N.Y.; Lori Coffey Hancock, Lexington (Ky.) School; Sujei Lugo, Boston Public Library, Jamaica Plain, Mass.; Kirby McCurtis, Multnomah County Library, Portland, Ore.; Sally L. Miculek, Georgetown (Texas) Public Library; Mary E. Parks, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh; Ana-Elba Pavon, Oakland (Calif.) Public Library, Elmhurst Branch; Catharine Potter, Falmouth (Maine) Middle School; and Rebecca Thomas, Richland Library, Columbia, S.C.

Members of the 2018 Caldecott Medal Selection Committee are: Chair, Letitia A. (Tish) Wilson, Dayton, Ohio; Naphtali Faris, Mid-Continent Public Library, Lone Jack, Mo.; Sarah Flathman, West Linn (Ore.) Public Library; Claudia Haines, Homer (Alaska) Public Library; Marika Jeffery, San Diego Public Library; Annisha Jeffries, Cleveland Public Library; Jeanne McDermott, Queens Library, Flushing, N.Y.; Heather McNeil, Deschutes Public Library, Bend, Ore.; Emily M. Nanney, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, Charlotte, N.C.; Hedra Packman, Meadowbrook, Pa.; Katie Salo, Indian Prairie Public Library, Darien, Ill.; Dean Schneider, Ensworth School, Nashville, Tenn.; Aaron D. Stefanich, Grand Forks (N.D.) Public Library; Sylvia Vardell, Texas Woman's University, Dallas; and Michelle Young, Hawaii State Public Library System.

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