Amina Luqman-Dawson, Doug Salati win Newbery, Caldecott Medals

For Immediate Release
Mon, 01/30/2023


ALA Media Relations

Communications and Marketing Office

American Library Association

NEW ORLEANS — Amina Luqman-Dawson, author of  “Freewater,” and Doug Salati, illustrator of “Hot Dog,” are the 2023 recipients of the John Newbery and Randolph Caldecott Medals, the most prestigious awards in children’s literature.

Amina Luqman-Dawson and Doug Salati were among the award winners announced at 8 a.m. CT, January 30, by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), during the ALA’s LibLearnX: The Library Learning Experience held January 27-30, in New Orleans. The Newbery and Caldecott Medals honor outstanding writing and illustration of works published in the United States during the previous year.

The 2023 Newbery Medal for the most distinguished contribution to children’s literature went to Amina Luqman-Dawson for “Freewater,” published by JIMMY Patterson/Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.

“Freewater” is a powerful and emotionally thrilling story of resistance. With expert characterization and a lush, vivid setting, Luqman-Dawson creates a remarkable narrative based on the real history of maroon communities.

“Our selections are an incredible testament to the power of this 101-year-old process,” said Newbery Medal Committee Chair Christina Vortia.

Amina Luqman-Dawson is a debut author who uses storytelling to explore issues of freedom and belonging. She, her husband, and 13-year-old son reside in Arlington, VA.

The 2023 Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished picture book is awarded to Doug Salati for “Hot Dog,” illustrated and written by Doug Salati and published by Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Random House.

In “Hot Dog,” readers are transported to a busy city where everything is just too much. The city sounds and heat are brought to life with the use of searing oranges, then a series of tranquil cool green and blue panels as they sojourn to the beach to run, dig and relax. This is a timeless story of love and friendship between a dog and its person.

“Through changing color palettes and shifting borders, Salati creates a striking background for his narrative of bonding between a very warm dog and his human,” said Caldecott Medal Committee Chair Dr. Robert Bittner.

“Hot Dog” is Doug Salati’s author-illustrator debut. His accomplishments include a 2020 Ezra Jack Keats Illustrator Honor. He was selected as a 2015 Sendak Fellow where he met Tomie dePaola, which led to a collaboration of Salati’s first book. He currently lives in New York and teaches at the School of Visual Arts where he earned his MFA.

Three Newbery Honor Books were named:

“Iveliz Explains It All,” by Andrea Beatriz Arango, published by Random House Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Random House.

“Iveliz Explains It All” is a first-person novel written in evocative verse revealing Iveliz’s thoughts and her emotions through evocative diary entries. Iveliz navigates grief, relationships, bullying and conflict with her mother and grandmother. Poignant, candid and memorable.

“The Last Mapmaker,” by Christina Soontornvat, published by Candlewick Press.

A swashbuckling adventure in a Thai-inspired fantasy world in which a poor but skilled artisan, Sai, joins a master mapmaker to chart the southern seas. Deft plot twists and interwoven stories of mistaken identities make for a fast-paced, multi-layered story.

“Maizy Chen's Last Chance,” by Lisa Yee, published by Random House Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Random House.

Yee skillfully intertwines contemporary realistic, historical fiction and mystery in a story that explores healing fractured relationships, confronting anti-Asian/Asian American racism and celebrating identity.

Four Caldecott Honor Books were named:

“Ain’t Burned All the Bright,” illustrated by Jason Griffin, written by Jason Reynolds and published by Caitlyn Dlouhy Books/Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing.

A Black family finds it difficult to breathe due to pandemic anxiety and crushing oppression of systemic racism, discovering a lifeline in their connections with one another. Griffin’s mixed-media collage illustrations both capture the tone of the poetic text and invite readers to create personal meanings.

“Berry Song,” illustrated and written by Michaela Goade and published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

While foraging berries in the Alaskan forest, a Tlingit grandmother shows her granddaughter the interconnectedness of the land and people.  Luscious watercolors brim with joy in images of ripe berries, dreamy woods and changing seasons. Continuing this intergenerational relationship, the girl later returns to the woods with her young sister.

“Choosing Brave: How Mamie Till-Mobley and Emmett Till Sparked the Civil Rights Movement,” illustrated by Janelle Washington, written by Angela Joy and published by Roaring Brook Press, a division of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group.

After her 14-year-old son Emmett Till was murdered in 1955, Mamie Till-Mobley chose to share her loss with the world, catalyzing the Civil Rights Movement. Washington’s bold paper-cut illustrations and Joy’s powerful text mirror Till-Mobley’s loving strength in making difficult choices and living bravely with the consequences.

“Knight Owl,” illustrated and written by Christopher Denise and published by Christy Ottaviano Books, an imprint of Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

Owl has one wish – to become a knight. He works hard and graduates with honor. Assigned to the Knight Night Watch, Owl faces a frightening intruder. Quick on his talons, Owl proves that cleverness and kindness can rule over brawn. With dramatic lighting and subtle foreshadowing, Denise creates an immersive medieval world.

Members of the 2023 Newbery Medal Selection Committee are: Chair Christina Vortia, Howard University’s Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Washington, DC; Jessica Agudelo, Bookops, The New York Public Library & Brooklyn Public Library, New York; Anamaria Lopez Anderson, Arlington, Virginia;  Amalia Elizabeth Butler, Park Avenue School, Orange, New Jersey; Dr. Cyndi Giorgis, Arizona State University, Glendale; Yesica Hurd, Berkeley Public Library, California; Kristen J. Kwisnek, Edgewater, Maryland; Sierra McKenzie, Cincinnati and Hamilton County Public Library, Ohio; Marion Rocco, Magellan International School, Austin, Texas; Ed Spicer, Menifee, California; Ellen Spring, Oceanside High School, Rockland, Maine; Kristine Techavanich, North Olympic Library System, Forks, Washington; Megan Thomas, State Library of Louisiana, Baton Rouge; Margaret E. Tice, Brooklyn, New York; and Taylor Worley, Eugene Public Library, Oregon.

Members of the 2023 Caldecott Medal Selection Committee are: Chair Dr. Robert Bittner, Langley, British Columbia, Canada; Jessica A. Bratt, Grand Rapids Public Library, Michigan; Dr. Ramona Caponegro, Baldwin Library of Historical Children's Literature, University of Florida, Gainesville; Annamarie E. Carlson, Upper Arlington Public Library, Ohio; Rosa Diaz, Rochester City School District, New York; Eiyana D. Favers, The Boys Latin School of Maryland, Baltimore; Natasha Forrester Campbell, Multnomah County Library, Portland, Oregon; Joanna Goldfarb, Ramapo Catskill Library System, Middletown, New York; Kathleen Busch Jarombek, Perrot Memorial Library, Old Greenwich, Connecticut; Dr. Julia A. Nephew, Addison Public Library, Illinois; Jenny M. Rosenoff, Montclair Kimberley Academy, New Jersey; Darla R. Salva Cruz, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, New York; Alia Shields, Miami Dade College, Florida; Bina Williams, Bridgeport Public Library-North Branch, Connecticut; and Bobbie Xuereb, MiraCosta College, San Diego.

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 members are committed to engaging communities to build healthy, successful futures for all children. 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


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