Your Thoughts on the Caldecott, Coretta Scott King, Newbery, Printz, and More?

Elizabeth Bluemle - January 24, 2017

For children’s book people, the ALA Youth Media Awards are more exciting than the Oscars — and, at least for the past few years, a whole lot more diverse in their recognition of the award-worthy. Twenty categories honored 70 books, one video, and four audiobooks, and singled out four extraordinary people in our field. This was a joyous year with gratifying recognition for distinguished work and, in my case, few surprises. 
What did you think of the awards? What surprised you? Which books were overlooked that you’d had high hopes for?
(A brief discussion and full list of the awards below.)

Did you whoop with joy when Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop was announced as the winner of the Coretta Scott King – Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement? I did. Her article, “Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding Glass Doors,” has given a vocabulary to the diversity movement that has opened eyes, ears, and minds around the world.
Fabulous writers Nikki Grimes,Sarah Dessen, and Naomi Shihab Nye were also joyfully recognized for their lifetime contributions to children’s literature, with the Laura Ingalls Wilder award, the Margaret A. Edwards award, and the May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture award, respectively. (That last award must cause both excitement and panic to the winner, coming as it does with a requirement to “prepare and present an original paper that makes a significant contribution to children’s literature community,” in the words of Andrew Medlar of ALSC.  No pressure!)
Some years, the awards confound my predictions. This year, their choices brought recognition to SO many titles I’ve loved this year! In the comments section, I’ll post titles I was surprised to find overlooked and hope you’ll do the same.
How did the publishers fare? Here’s a quick-and-dirty count (without the Alex Awards):
Simon & Schuster – 10 (Atheneum 3, Caitlyn Dlouhy/Atheneum, 3, Margaret K. McElderry 1, S&S 2, Simon Spotlight 1)
Penguin Random House – 9 (Knopf 2, Crown 1, Delacorte 2, Dutton 2, Viking 1, Wendy Lamb 1)
Macmillan – 5 (Roaring Brook 3, Feiwel and Friends 1, Henry Holt 1)
Top Shelf Productions – 4
Candlewick Press – 3
Chronicle Books – 3
Disney Book Group – 3 (Disney-Hyperion 2, Hyperion 1)
Abrams – 2
Charlesbridge – 2
Hachette – 3 (Little, Brown 2, Quercus 1)
HarperCollins – 2 (Balzer + Bray 1, HarperTeen 1)
Little Bee (Bonnier) – 2
Algonquin (Workman) – 1
Bloomsbury – 1
Carolrhoda Books (Lerner) – 1
Cinco Puntos Press – 1
Dreamscape Media – 1
Enchanted Lion Books – 1
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt – 1 (Clarion)
NorthSouth Books – 1
Orca Book Publishers – 1
Scholastic – 1 (David Fickling)
St. Martin’s – 1 (Thomas Dunne)
It’s great to see several smaller houses recognized. There is so much fantastic work coming out of small, indie, and micro-presses recently!
Congratulations to the outstanding authors and illustrators showered with honors this year:
John Lewis, Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell – 4 awards
Ashley Bryan – 3 awards
Jason Reynolds – 3 awards
R. Gregory Christie – 2 awards
Javaka Steptoe – 2 awards
Duncan Tonatiuh – 2 awards
Nicola Yoon – 2 awards
Kelly Barnhill
Julie Berry
Karen Blumenthal
Vera Brosgol
Jen Bryant and Boris Kulikov
Calla Devlin
Kenneth C. Davis
Alexandra Diaz
Sarah Dessen
Jenny Downham
Carson Ellis
Russell Freedman
Adam Gidwitz
M-E Girard
Taro Gomi
Raúl Gonzalez
Nikki Grimes
Bonnie-Sue Hitchcock
Laurie Keller
Kara LaReau
Emery Lord
Anna-Marie McLemore
Albert Marrin
Juana Medina
David Milgrim
Matt Myers
Naomi Shihab Nye
Louise O’Neill
Linda Barrett Osborne
Sonia Patel
Jerry Pinkney
Greg Pizzoli
Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann
Glenn Ringtved and  Charlotte Pardi
Rick Riordan
Meredith Russo
José Sanabria and Audrey Hall
Gavriel Savit (narrated by Allan Corduner)
Emma Shevah (narrated by Laura Kirman)
Caren Stelson
Noelle Stevenson (narrated by Rebecca Soler, Jonathan Davis, Marc Thompson, January LaVoy, Natalie Gold, Peter Bradbury and David Pittu)
Robin Stevenson
Arne Svingen and Kari Dickson
Pamela S. Turner and Gareth Hinds
Mike Twohy
Brendan Wenzel
Lauren Wolk
Jeff Zentner
For score keepers, another rough count turns up 35 men earning 43 awards and 38 women earning 39 awards. (Note: my count includes the Carnegie Medal, winning narrators of the audiobooks awards as well as their authors, and translators as well as authors of the translated book awards, but excludes the Alex Award winners.)
Diversity experts, what say you? (There are several ways to tally diversity, so I am going to wait for the spokespeople of each method to weigh in!)
The complete list of ALA Youth Media Awards winners can be found here (for those listening to web content, the link is
I’d love to hear ShelfTalker readers’ take on the awards. What surprised you? Which books were overlooked? Which awards made you leap for joy?

1 thought on “Your Thoughts on the Caldecott, Coretta Scott King, Newbery, Printz, and More?

  1. Peter Glassman

    I was delighted by the choices for this year’s Newbery & Caldecott winners — though a bit sad that both GHOST by Jason Reynolds and THE BEST MAN by Richard Peck did not receive at least Newbery Honors, as I thought these were two of the finest novels for young readers published this year.
    While I applaud the ALA for its attempts at promoting diversity through the creation of so many awards to each recognize a different group, I’m sorry to say that no awards but the Newebery and Caldecott seem to mean anything to my customers. We’ve actively promoted the other awards — especially the Printz and Geisel awards — but have consistently seen no major bumps in the sales of those titles unless we are able to get the authors in the store for events. And even then, the resulting says are not that much greater than they would have been for an author appearance if the books hadn’t won the awards. Now, I realize these other awards do produce a great surge in institutional sales — but as a retailer, my concern is getting parents excited about buying these books for their kids (let’s face it, very few kids spend their own money on books — especially since kids quickly realize it’s so easy to get mom or dad to buy them books).
    And while all these awards targeted at specific groups are great, I continue to wonder how many of the titles recognized by those committees are overlooked by the Newbery or Caldecott committee because somewhere in the backs of the committee members’ minds is the awareness that “those” books have awards especially designed for them.
    Having been a judge the first year that the National Book Awards began nominating a long list of 10, then a short list of 5, and eventually a single winner, I saw first hand the power a longer list can have — but even more, I saw how much more sales were influenced by being one of the 5 “finalists” than being on the long list. And, at least in my store and on my website, the NBA does not have anywhere near the effect on sales compared to the Caldecott and Newbery medals,
    If I could have my wish — and since I’m not a librarian, this is really just wishful thinking — the Newbery and Caldecott committees would be instructed to select no fewer than 6 or 7 honor books each year. I find it hard to believe that out of the thousands of books published each year any committee would be unable to find 8 books (one medalist and 7 honor books) for each year’s award.
    But as we all know…. if wishes were fishes….


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