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2022 ALA YMAs for families!

Bright and early on Monday, January 24, the American Library Association announced the winners of its Youth Media Awards (known to some as the Oscars of KidLit), including the Newbery, Caldecott, Children's Literature Legacy, Coretta Scott King Author and Illustratorand many others. Read Horn Book reviews of the winners, and browse our additional information by and about many of them: interviews, articles, additional reviews, and more. 

As always, there are many wonderful selections for families, with Caldecott winner and Newbery honoree (and Boston Globe-Horn Book honoree and APALA winner) Watercress being an especially poignant and thematic picture-book selection. The story follows a Chinese American girl who feels self-conscious about her parents' detour to gather watercress. Learning more about her family's past brings her closer to her heritage — and to new understanding of herself. As Chin writes in his BGHB honor speech:

Learning of readers’ connections to the book has been immensely gratifying. These are readers from many backgrounds, who are having their experiences mirrored and validated by the story of a Chinese American girl picking watercress in a ditch in 1970s Ohio. A story that is so specific yet conveys universal human emotions and experiences and speaks to readers across time, race, and culture.

Yesterday my son's wonderful school librarian brought in some watercress for all the kids to try. Verdict was: a little spicy, and yum! 

This year's Newbery Medal and Pura Belpré Author Award went to The Last Cuentista by Donna Barba Higuera, a middle-grade sci-fi story that hinges on a granddaughter's carrying on of family tradition to do nothing short of saving the world: "She follows in her grandmother’s footsteps to become a cuentista, using storytelling to save humanity and remind her companions of the histories that were taken from them" (from S. R. Toliver's September/October 2021 Magazine review).

Last year saw commemoration of the hundredth anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre. Carole Boston Weatherford and the late Floyd Cooper published Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre, winner of both the Coretta Scott King Author and Illustrator awards (and a Boston Globe-Horn Book honoree; and a Caldecott honoree; and a Sibert honoree):

As a children’s book author, I am committed to setting the record straight. For too long, textbooks and school curricula have omitted or whitewashed chapters of American history that expose white supremacy. Thus, few adults, let alone children, are aware of events like the Tulsa Race Massacre. 

Weatherford (quoted above) and Cooper illuminate this tragedy in a beautifully presented picture book that is both sophisticated and accessible, for young people as well as adults.

And this year's Children's Literature Legacy Award went to Grace Lin, a big favorite in my house! We have lots of other family favorites among this year's winners — Raúl the Third's Belpré-winning ¡Vamos! picture books; Caldecott honorees Mel Fell (that dive!), Have You Ever Seen a Flower? (that detail!), and Wonder Walkers (those hues!); Sibert Medalist The People’s Painter by Cynthia Levinson and Evan Turk; Sydney Taylor Picture Book winner The Passover Guest by Susan Kusel and Sean Rubin. What are some of yours?

Elissa Gershowitz

Elissa Gershowitz is acting editor in chief / executive editor of The Horn Book, Inc. She holds an MA from the Center for the Study of Children's Literature at Simmons University and a BA from Oberlin College.

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