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ALA Awards 2014: Horn Book reviews of the winners

diCamillo_Flora     locomotive
The most prestigious honors in children’s literature, the Newbery and Caldecott medals, were awarded to Kate DiCamillo and Brian Floca on January 27, 2014, at the American Library Association’s midwinter meeting in Philadelphia. Also announced at the gathering were the winners of the Coretta Scott King, Pura Belpré, Michael L. Printz, Robert F. Sibert, and Mildred L. Batchelder awards and several other major honors. Follow the links below for more information about all the winning titles, including in many cases their reviews in The Horn Book Magazine or The Horn Book Guide.

Newbery Medal
Caldecott Medal
Belpré Award (Author and Illustrator)
Coretta Scott King Awards (Author and Illustrator)
Printz Award
Sibert Award
Batchelder Award

Additional ALA awards
Alex, Arbuthnot, Carnegie, Edwards, Geisel, Hamilton, Morris, Odyssey, Schneider, Steptoe, Stonewall, and YALSA Nonfiction awards

Best Fiction for Young Adults list



  1. Wow, everything is so quiet today at THE HORN BOOK. I am figuring there is some shock with the announcements by way of omission rather than any complaints against what books WERE chosen. In which case I would have to agree.

    I do need to get moving on FLORA AND ULYSSES. I have long wanted to read THE PAPERBOY and DOLL BONES as well.

  2. The American Indian Library Association’s book awards are not included on the ALA page.

  3. Thanks for the link, Debbie.

    Re the Newbery and Caldecott: they seem to have color-coordinated their covers! Speaking of which, is it time for the annual conversation about race/inclusion and these awards? It seems, somehow, to get *more* striking each year: the movement through the Coretta Scott King Awards, and the Pura Belpre, and the Stonewall Book Awards– all honoring some of the year’s most distinguished titles… and then we arrive at the “most prestigious” awards and we are back to the white, straight world. Or, is it time to stop having the conversation and start doing something about it?

  4. Elissa Gershowitz Elissa Gershowitz says:

    Thanks for the link, Debbie. We will send it around.
    And, Sarah, yes, please do feel free to start that “annual conversation” here! We’ll put it out there in the social media world and see if anyone else wants to join.

  5. Sarah–On the 17th, I reviewed Floca’s LOCOMOTIVE, framing my review in recent discussions about diversity. A few days later, he responded. Betsy Bird (in the SLJ “pre-game show” referenced my critique of it).

    As we all know, he won the award. Your question about “white, straight world” prompts me to share the link to my critique:

    I’ll also note that I’m getting a lot of backlash for my critique. I’m not fishing for support in letting you know that I’m getting backlash. Instead, I’m using it to point to the resistance to the conversation at all.

  6. Debbie– thank you so much for starting, and sharing that conversation. In some ways, I feel like it’s this open, engaged, critical reflection and dialogue that is the most valuable thing in the end. No artist will get it completely right, and when it comes to race, all of us have our unexplored assumptions, and blind spots, and perspectives limited by both our own experiences and the larger culture in which we live. I think we can only try as hard as we can get it right, with the humble knowledge that we will still get parts of it wrong– and then be willing to continue to listen to other voices and critiques, and continue to engage that conversation through our work. As I think your critique, and Floca’s response, has done. The problem, I agree, is when it comes to what is recognized . Both in terms of the recognition of awards, the making of space for this conversation within larger reviews and responses, and the sense of a continual return to the privileging of a certain, exclusive perspective. I don’t have any answers, but just wanted to throw out the question again. Thanks for broadening it.

  7. There is without a doubt a long way to go. But I do want to give a shout-out to Flora and Ulysses, which presented a biracial protagonist in its illustrations without commenting on it. Flora is “quirky” in plenty of internal ways, but her parents’ differing races aren’t important to the story, and by presenting her this way, K.G. Campbell and whoever else was involved in that decision made representation of multiracial kids a little more mainstream – even more so now that it’s the Newbery winner.

  8. Last night I picked up copies of all the Newbery winners (FLORA AND ULYSSES is a hot item now after the big win, understandably!) at the library – I have my work cut out for me to get them all read and possibly even reviewed for my site – but I was delighted with the loan of two of the Latino winners – TITO PUENTE is stylish and beautifully illustrated and MARIA HAD A LITTLE LLAMA is attractive and perfect for a first grade class. The former book is definitely a keeper, while the latter could be too at some point. My school district -in northern New Jersey near the George Washington Bridge (now a national shrine! Ha!!) has a Latino population of about 80% so these books are ideal, much as ROUND IS A TORTILLA and NINO WRESTLES THE WORLD were over the past months.

  9. It doesn’t seem others necessarily want to pick this up again here, and this is a more specific (and potentially loaded?) facet of the conversation, so I’m not sure if this is the right place to pursue it. BUT: Debbie, I wonder if there is some way to address the critiques you raise– and have raised– about representation in children’s books, in a larger, more inclusive context or forum.

    I guess I see, as one observer, that there has been a note of caution among many responding to those critiques: a fear, maybe, of one voice, or one response or reading ( always subjective) having the power to undermine a book’s value, or unduly change its reception. Children’s authors work hard and receive little in return, so this could feel especially damaging. On the other hand, there’s a response to this fear that asks: *why* are so few voices raising these questions and critiques? And, does someone raising such questions have undo power if books that include fundamental misrepresentations continue to be recognized? And, where is the line between subjectivity (and even a potential misreading) and a difference of context and experience (one that often goes unrecognized)?

    In the conversation about Ghost Hawk on the Heavy Medal blog (here I open a great can of worms) you included a piece about a forum that was convened to discuss Nathaniel Philbrick’s book, which included Philbrick, and a range of Native scholars and historians. I wouldn’t suggest that any one author or book be the subject of a similar panel, but I wonder, again, about a larger, inclusive conversation about representations of Native people and history in children’s books, along with the issue of raising/addressing/responding to questions about representation within the children’s book community? Given that this would encompass a broad range of people and perspectives, and is in no way monolithic, I’m not sure exactly how it would work. But obviously this is a conversation that’s already been happening for a long time– often less than productively, and often in private.

    Or, maybe such a forum has already happened?

  10. Sarah,

    Betsy Bird and Zetta Elliot had an event about a year ago in NYC. And, I think the CBC Diversity initiative was supposed to take this up by putting this issue on the front burner. People really liked the CBC Diversity effort but I feel it has a strong “anyone can write” subtext, and that it is undermined by a disagreement on what gets labeled as diverse and put forth on their Goodreads shelf. If racist and stereotypical books sit, uncriticized, on that shelf, then what is the point of the effort?

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