Meg Medina, Sophie Blackall win Newbery, Caldecott Medals

For Immediate Release
Mon, 01/28/2019


Communications and Marketing Office

ALA Media Relations


SEATTLE  — Meg Medina, author of “Merci Suárez Changes Gears,” and Sophie Blackall, illustrator of “Hello Lighthouse,” are the 2019 winners of the John Newbery and Randolph Caldecott Medals, the most prestigious awards in children’s literature.

Medina and Blackall were among the award winners announced January 28, by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), during the ALA Midwinter Meeting & Exhibits, January 25 -29, in Seattle, Washington. The Newbery and Caldecott Medals honor outstanding writing and illustration of works published in the United States during the previous year.

The 2019 Newbery Medal for the most distinguished contribution to children’s literature went to Meg Medina for “Merci Suárez Changes Gears,” and published by Candlewick Press.

Using humor and grace, Merci, a charming and plucky protagonist, cycles through life’s challenges with the support of her intergenerational family. This richly nuanced novel tackles the complexity of navigating a multicultural identity amidst changing family dynamics.

“Meg Medina’s warm and honest novel masterfully depicts one Cuban-American family’s life with authenticity and empathy,” said Newbery Medal Committee Chair Ellen M. Riordan.

Meg Medina is an award-winning Cuban-American author of books for children and young adults. She was the 2014 recipient of the Pura Belpré Author Award, and currently serves on the We Need Diverse Books Advisory Board. Medina lives with her family in Richmond, VA.

The 2019 Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished picture book is awarded to Sophie Blackall for “Hello Lighthouse,” published by Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

Masterful ink and watercolor illustrations illuminate the story of a lighthouse and the family inside. Stunning images of the lighthouse in all kinds of weather alternate with views of intimate interior detail and circular motifs. Blackall’s skill with composition, line and close attention to detail have created an exquisite book.

 “Children will delight in immersing themselves in the captivating discoveries each new look at ‘Hello Lighthouse’ will bring,” said Caldecott Medal Committee Chair Mary Fellows.

Sophie Blackall is an Australian-born author and illustrator living in Brooklyn, New York.  Blackall has long been intrigued by the isolated and steadfast nature of lighthouses.  Her whimsical and detailed illustrations have won many awards and honors, including the 2016 Caldecott Medal for “Finding Winnie.”

 Two Newbery Honor Books were named:

“The Night Diary” written by Veera Hiranandani and published by Kokila, Penguin Young Readers Group, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

Following introspective Nisha and her family as they flee their homeland for an uncertain future, Hiranandani illuminates the 1947 partition of India with unprecedented balance and sensitivity. Through spare evocative diary entries addressed to her late mother, Nisha discovers the complex beauty of her Hindu-Muslim identity.

“The Book of Boy” written by Catherine Gilbert Murdock, illustrated by Ian Schoenherr, and published by Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

From Murdock’s first line, readers are swept into an epic quest across Europe in 1350 with Boy and a mysterious pilgrim, adventuring to recover seven relics of St. Peter. Layered characters from goats to nuns, lyrical language, and multiple reveals combine to create this powerful story of redemption.

Four Caldecott Honor Books were named:

“Alma and How She Got Her Name” illustrated and written by Juana Martinez-Neal, published by Candlewick Press.

When Alma’s father shares family stories about the origins of her long beautiful name, she gains an appreciation for its uniqueness and connection to her history. Martinez-Neal uses smudgy graphite and colored pencil to convey a soft palette that gently transports readers into Alma’s rich ancestral past.

“A Big Mooncake for Little Star,” illustrated and written by Grace Lin, published by Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

Lin’s detailed compositions and palette create a wholly original fable imbued with traits of the Chinese Moon Festival. A mischievous child and her mother bake a mooncake and the temptation of sweet treats unfolds nightly against an inky black sky. The phases of the moon have never been so tasty!

“The Rough Patch,” illustrated and written by Brian Lies, published by Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.

“Evan and his dog did everything together” until “one day, the unthinkable happened”. With compelling compositions and mastery of light and shadow, Brian Lies illustrates an emotional arc of loss, grief, healing, and hope.

“Thank you, Omu!,” illustrated and written by Oge Mora, published by Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

The scent of Omu’s thick red stew drifts through the neighborhood, bringing community members to the door for a taste. Through mixed media and paper collage, Mora tells a story of coming together to give and receive. Rich colors and textures celebrate generosity, community, and the rewards of sharing.

Members of the 2019 Newbery Medal Selection Committee are: Chair Ellen M. Riordan, D.C. Public Library, Washington, D.C.; Mary Dubbs, Hennepin County Library, Minneapolis, Minn.; Sondra Eklund Fairfax (Va.) County Public Library; Robbin Ellis Friedman, Chappaqua (N.Y.) Library; Eric Gomez, Broward County Library, Fort Lauderdale, Fla.; Pamela Archer Hamlin, Prince George's County Memorial Library System, Largo, Md.; Gregory D. Lum, Clark Library, Portland; Abigail Yvonne Morales, Mt San Antonio College Library And Learning Resource Center, Walnut, Calif.; Emily Mroczek, Naperville (Ill.) Public Library; Lalitha Nataraj, California State University, San Marcos, Calif.; Alma Ramos-McDermott, Lake Trafford Elementary School, Immokalee, Fla.; Stephanie Malosh Rivera, Fowler Branch Library, Concord, Mass.; Sue Z. Rokos, Mohawk Valley Library System, Schenectady, N.Y.; and Terrell A. Young, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah.

Members of the 2019 Caldecott Medal Selection Committee are: Chair - Mary Fellows, Upper Hudson Library System, Albany, N.Y. ; Farouqua Abuzeit, Boston (Mass.) Public Library; Heather Acerro, Rochester (Minn.) Public Library; Tom Bober, School District of Clayton, Mo.; Megan Alleyn Egbert, Meridian (Idaho) Library District; Lucia Martinez Gonzalez, North Miami (Fla.) Public Library; Dr. Darwin L. Henderson, Cincinnati, Ohio; Shannon Horrocks, Sno-Isle Libraries, Snohomish, Wash.;  Dr. Jonda C. McNair, Clemson (S.C.) University; Dr. Ruth E. Quiroa, National Louis University, Lisle, Ill.; Chinasa Izeogu Seyse, Schenectady (N.Y.) County Public Library; Amanda Struckmeyer, Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District (Wisc.); Marilyn J. Taniguchi, Beverly Hills (Calif.) Public Library; Gwen Vanderhage, Brodart Co., Williamsport, Pa.; and Caroline Ward, Cos Cob, Conn.

ALSC is the world’s largest organization dedicated to the support and enhancement of library service to children. With a network of more than 4,000 children’s and youth librarians, literature experts, publishers, and educational faculty, ALSC is committed to creating a better future for children through libraries. To learn more about ALSC, visit their website at

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