2015 Multicultural Award Winners in Kids' Books: African-American, Latino, Asian-American, Jewish, and International Titles

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I mentioned in a post earlier this week that I'd be back to share some more award winners. This time we're going to focus on picture books, chapter books, non-fiction, and teen lit that garnered three major American Library Association 2015 awards. In addition, we'll take a look at medal winners designated by the Association of Jewish Libraries. All of these awards are reserved for books that portray the African-American, Latino, Jewish, and global experiences.

It also happens to be my turn for the Multicultural Kid Blogs Global Pick of the Day, so the awards came at a great time! Now, in case you're wondering why multicultural children's books are so important, take a look here. Then read on below to find great titles you don't want to miss!

First, the Coretta Scott Book Awards, which are divided into subcategories are

given annually to outstanding African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values.  The award commemorates the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and honors his wife, Mrs. Coretta Scott King, for her courage and determination to continue the work for peace and world brotherhood.   

This year's Author Award went to:

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (ages 9-12)

Brown Girl Dreaming pretty much cleaned up on awards this year, and for good reason. In addition to the Coretta Scott King Medal, it earned the National Book Award, a Newbery Honor Award, and a Sibert Honor Award. Read my review of this beautiful novel here

The runners-up for the author award were:

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander (ages 11 and up) (The Crossover was also awarded the 2015 Newbery Medal for the most distinguished contribution to American children's literature.)

how i discovered poetry by marilyn nelson (ages 11 and up)

How it Went Down by Kekla Magoon (ages 14 and up)

The Coretta Scott King 2015 John Steptoe Award for New Talent is given to a previously unpublished African-American author. This year's winner was:

When I Was the Greatest by Jason Reynolds (ages 12 and up)

Here's what the awards committee had to say about this novel:

Reynolds' lively and engaging portrayal of urban teenage boys is a compelling story about neighborhood, family, friendship, values and the acceptance of difference. Living in an underserved neighborhood in Brooklyn, Allen/Ali befriends Noodles and his brother Needles, who has Tourette Syndrome. In an authentic contemporary voice, Reynolds focuses on the importance of family, the acceptance of responsibility and the obligations of friendship and portrays a likeable teenager learning how to be a good man.

This year's Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award went to:

Firebird: Ballerina Misty Copeland Shows a Young Girl How to Dance Like the Firebird by Misty Copeland and Christopher Myers (ages 6-9)

The awards committee cited Firebird's 

vibrant lines and colors (which) mirror the movement of Copeland’s “Firebird." Encased in gorgeous collages and endpaper, balletic poses, leaping and bounding into the air at tremendous heights spur the imagination and inspire a young girl’s hopes and dreams.

Here's a look at two page spreads so you can see some of this beautiful book yourself:

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The runners-up for illustration were:

Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker by Patricia Hruby Powell and Christian Robinson (ages 6-11) 

Little Melba and Her Big Trombone by Katheryn Russell-Brown and Frank Morrison (ages 6-11)

I'm very excited about Christian Robinson's win, because I am a huge fan of his picture books! Take a look at some of the artwork from Josephine

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Doesn't Christian Robinson's rendition of the Charleston just jump off the page?

I reviewed Little Melba here. It's a must-have picture book. Here are two illustrations:

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little melba book long enough

And how cool is it that all three of the Illustrator Awards went to books about women in the arts? 

Let's take a look next at the Pura Belpré Medal. Pura Belpré was the first Latina librarian at the New York Public Library. According to the American Library Association, the award is 

presented annually to a Latino/Latina writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in an outstanding work of literature for children and youth. 

The 2015 Author Award went to:

I Lived on Butterfly Hill by Marjorie Agosin (ages 10-13)

Here's why the awards committee chose this book:

When warships appear, in “I Lived on Butterfly Hill,” Celeste’s idyllic life is shattered. As people disappear, Celeste’s parents go into hiding, and she is sent into exile. When she returns home, she works to reunite people she loves and to move her country forward. Lyrically written by acclaimed poet, Marjorie Agosín, this Chilean story offers a refreshing perspective on resiliency.
 
With her poet’s eye, Marjorie Agosín gives this tale of exile and return an epic feel. Though she is a refugee, Celeste learns she belongs anywhere there are things she loves.

The committee awarded a Pura Belpré Honor Award to runner up:

Portraits of Hispanic American Heroes by Juan Felipe Herrera and Raúl Colón (ages 8-12)

The committee noted:

Juan Felipe Herrera celebrates the lives of 20 Hispanic people who up to now have been in the shadows to many despite their significant contributions to American society. These poignant biographical sketches succinctly present the essence of each hero’s life and legacy to the future generations of their culture.

And if you're not familiar with Raúl Colón, he's an award-winning picture book artist worth checking out!

The committee gave the Illustrator Award to:

Viva Frida by Yuyi Morales (ages 5 and up)

This one also won a prestigious Caldecott Honor. The illustrations are amazing, partly because they were created in such a complex manner. The awards committee said:

“Viva Frida” uses rich, vibrant color photographs and minimal evocative text to beautifully portray the unique imagination and creativity of an iconic Latina artist. Morales blends a wide variety of mediums - stop-motion puppets, acrylic paints and digital manipulation - to create a whimsical picture book that will inspire your artistic sensibilities.  
 
“It’s Yuyi, what more can you say?” said Pura Belpré Award Committee Chair Tim Wadham.  “Her multi-media illustrations take the reader on a journey straight into Frida Kahlo’s artist’s heart and creative soul.

Viva Frida is one of those rare picture book that can be enjoyed by kids of all ages, and even adults. 

Three books were awarded honors in the illustration category:

Little Roja Riding Hood by Susan Middleton Elya and Susan Guevara (ages 4-8)

Green is a Chile Pepper: A Book of Colors by Roseanne Greenfield Thong and John Para (ages 3-8), which I reviewed here.

Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family's Fight for Desegregation by Duncan Taonatiuh (ages 7-10). This one also won a Sibert Honor medal. I reviewed it here

The American Library Association gives the Mildred Batchelder Award for

the most outstanding children’s book originally published in a language other than English in a country other than the United States, and subsequently translated into English for publication in the United States.

The 2015 winner was:

Mikis and the Donkey by Bibi Dumon Tak (ages 6-9)

This short chapter book was translated from Dutch. The committee noted:

Mikis’ simple, quiet life on the Greek island of Corfu is upended when his grandfather surprises him by buying a donkey. During the following year, Mikis’ adventures with the donkey show the village what it means to care for one another. This charming book has remarkable depth. Vividly set in a tiny island village, the universal themes will be relevant to all readers.

Runners-up for the Batchelder Award were:

Hidden: A Child's Story of the Holocaust by Loic Dauvillier, Greg Salsedo, and Marc Lizano (ages 8-12)

Hidden was translated from French. The committee noted:

In this evocative graphic novel, a grandmother recounts her childhood experiences hiding from the Nazis in World War II France. Surrounded by cruelty, Dounia also benefited from the exceptional kindness and courage of her protectors.  The telling of her story to her grandchild brings healing and hope. This subtle but powerfully illustrated graphic novel will capture readers with its gripping account of heroism in the truly dire circumstances of the Holocaust.

Nine Open Arms by Benny Lindelauf (ages 10-13)

Also translated from Dutch, this novel was chosen as an honor recipient because:

In this intricately plotted book, Fing’s loving but fractious family moves into a new house outside of town and gradually discovers a “tragical tragedy” concerning the mysterious man living in the hedge. Combining elements of historical fiction, mystery and magical realism with large doses of humor, this book enthralls. Readers will be enchanted by the indelibly drawn characters, the rich language and the interwoven narrative.

Finally, the Sydney Taylor Book Award is given annually by the Association of Jewish Libraries. "to outstanding books for children and teens that authentically portray the Jewish experience." The awards are divided into three categories, which are books for "younger," "older," and "teen" readers. The 2015 winners, in age category order, were:

My Grandfather's Coat by Jim Aylesworth and Barbara McClintock

Hidden: A Child's Story of the Holocaust by Loic Dauvillier, Greg Salsedo, and Marc Lizano (ages 8-12) 

Storm by Donna Jo Napoli

I'm so excited to see My Grandfather's Coat win this medal! It was one of my favorite picture books published last year, and you can read why here

Finally, the Asian/Pacific American Awards for Literature, also given by a division of the American Library Associations, were announced this past week. These books "promote Asian/Pacific American culture and heritage ... and are awarded based on their literary and artistic merit." Awards and honors are given in "picture book," "children's" (chapter book), and "young adult" (teen) categories. Here are the awards for books published in 2014, in age/category order:

Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin by Chieri Uegaki and Qin Leng (ages 5-8)

Gaijin: American Prisoner of War by Matt Faulkner (ages 10-14)

tiger girl by may-lee chai (ages 14 and up)

I bought Hana Hashimoto, a lovely picture book, as a gift for my daughters' violin teacher this past Christmas, so I'm thrilled to see it win this award!

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Remember the Ladies: Celebrate Presidents' Day with Kids' Books about Women in the White House

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"And, by the way, in the new code of laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make, I desire you would remember the ladies and be more generous and favorable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the husbands. Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could. If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation." -- Abigail Adams in a 1776 letter to her husband, John.

Oh, how I love that quote. Abigail Adams meant business, and she and her husband John had an unusually egalitarian, intellectual relationship for the late 18th century. If you'd like to know more about this witty, brilliant first lady, read this or watch this

Presidents' Day got me thinking about first ladies, instead of presidents. There are some really neat books out there about first ladies, and a superbly clever one about a first daughter. And then I remembered a couple of picture books that are fictional, about girls who want to be president, and I wanted to share those with you, too. I'm looking forward to the day when we can count a woman among the presidents of the United States. Until then, let's celebrate by sharing these titles.

Eleanor: Quiet No More by Doreen Rappaport and Gary Kelley

I'm starting off with Eleanor Roosevelt because she's one of my favorite people of all time, and because she's largely credited with changing the role of first lady from hostess to activist. Doreen Rappaport has a stellar reputation as a class-A children's biographer, and she's clearly done her homework for this picture book, once again. Here's what School Library Journal said about Eleanor: 

Starred Review. Grades 3–8. Once again Rappaport celebrates a noble, heroic life in powerful, succinct prose, with prominent, well-chosen, and judiciously placed quotes that both instruct and inspire. From her lonely childhood to her transformative education in Europe and marriage to Franklin Roosevelt, the subject is portrayed as a serious, intelligent, hardworking humanitarian. Despite the picture-book format, students get enough background and information to appreciate the woman's outstanding qualities and contributions as well as enough details for reports.

Miss Lady Bird's Wildflowers: How a First Lady Changed America by Kathi Appely and Joy Fisher Hein

From a lonely childhood in the Piney Woods of East Texas to an exciting life in the White House, Lady Bird Johnson loved these wildflowers with all her heart. They were her companions in her youth, greeting her everywhere as she explored wild forests, bayous, and hills. Later, as First Lady, she sought to bring the beauty of wildflowers to America's cities and highways. She wanted to make sure every child could enjoy the splendor of wildflowers.

Abigail Adams: First Lady of the American Revolution by Patricia Lakin, Bob Dacey, and Debra Bandelin

This may very well be the only easy reader biography of a first lady currently in print. It's written for kids reading at roughly a second to third grade reading level. And it was named to the American Library Association's Amelia Bloomer List

The Lincolns: A Scrapbook Look at Abraham and Mary by Candace Fleming

Candace Fleming has an outstanding reputation for middle and high school biographies, not to mention picture books for younger audiences. In this award-winning book for kids ages 10 to 14, Fleming gives Mary Todd just as much coverage as her famous husband. In a starred review, School Library Journal wrote: 

Presented in period typefaces, the boxed bits of text, sidebars, and numerous running heads and subheads add detail. From portraits to pets, the book contains a wide variety of graphics, including written and visual primary documents that enrich every spread. Notes, resources, and source notes are exemplary. It's hard to imagine a more engaging or well-told biography of the Lincolns.

Dolley Madison Saves George Washington by Don Brown

In a starred review, Kirkus said:

Brown continues his string of exemplary biographies for younger readers with this profile of the most charming, charismatic and intrepid first lady ever. Between shorter looks at DolleyMadison's earlier and later life, he focuses on her leading role in Washington society and her courage during the War of 1812. After the soldiers who were supposed to guard the presidential mansion fled, she lingered to make sure that a life-sized Gilbert Stuart portrait of Washington was removed before the occupying British could destroy it, and then disguised herself as a farm woman to get away.

Madam President: The Extraordinary, True (and Evolving) Story of Women in Politics by Candace Thimmesh and Douglas B. Jones

In a starred review, Booklist wrote:

Delightful and informative in equal parts, Thimmesh's collective biography profiles women who took up the fight for women's political rights. A story about a girl who is ridiculed for wanting to be president frames the introduction to the many women who have cleared the path that will eventually lead to a female president. Divided into groups such as suffragettes, First Ladies, and politicians in the U.S and around the world ... Jones' pencil artwork, colored using Photoshop, makes the book so enticing. [T]he illustrations personalize both the long list of women who have stepped up as well as the girl who is inspired by their stories. 

Madam President works best for kids ages nine to 14.

Founding Mothers: Remembering the Ladies by Cokie Roberts and Diane Goode

Who could ask for better than NPR journalist Cokie Roberts and award-winning children's illustrator Diane Goode, all in one book? Kirkus gave this one a starred review:

[A]n attractive and compelling version for young people of Roberts' adult book of the same title. Goode's illustrations are often breathtaking. On the endpapers, she has reproduced in sepia tones with antique pens some of the source documents that allow readers to know these women. Roberts' lively text is illuminated with flourishes and curlicues along with winsome or whimsical portraits in what looks like ink and watercolor. Abigail Adams, Dolley Madison and Martha Washington are included of course, and there's also Mercy Otis Warren, who wrote letters and poems championing the cause of freedom, and Eliza Lucas Pinckney, whose "little schemes" included raising silkworms and cultivating indigo as a cash crop. It is a wonderful package, adding the women who made it work to the men we thought we all knew. 

What to Do About Alice: How Alice Roosevelt Broke the Rules, Charmed the World, and Drove Her Father Teddy Crazy! by Barbara Kerley and Edwin Fotheringham

I cannot say enough good stuff about this exciting, hilarious look at Teddy Roosevelt's daughter Alice. Read my full review here. 

First Garden: The White House Garden and How It Grew by Robbin Gurley

School Library Journal wrote in its review:

Beginning with an introduction to the White House and its grounds, Gourley then describes some of the children who have lived there and the ways in which they used the outdoor space. A portrait of the Obama family introduces the section on gardening for food at the White House, from John Adams in 1800 through Eleanor Roosevelt in 1943. The narrative then turns to Michelle Obama and how she invited children from nearby schools to help prepare the soil, plant, cultivate, and ultimately cook and eat the produce; how the White House chefs became involved in the process; and how food from the First Garden now helps feed the Obamas as well as people at a Washington, DC, homeless shelter. A beautiful and timely addition.

Madam President by Lane Smith

Lane Smith produces original, witty children's books, and this one received two starred reviews. 

A little girl imagines what her day would be like if she were Madam President. There would be executive orders to give, babies to kiss, tuna casseroles to veto (or VETO!) and so much more! Not to mention that recess would definitely require more security.

With deadpan wit and hilarious illustrations, best-selling picture book creator Lane Smith introduces readers to an unforgettable new character.

Grace for President by Kelly DiPucchio and LeUyen Pham

An offering from two talented picture book creators!

"Where are the girls?" When Grace's teacher reveals that the United States has never had a female president, Grace decides to be the first. And she immediately starts off her political career as a candidate the school's mock election! Author Kelly DiPucchio not only gives readers a fun introduction to the American electoral system, but also teaches them the value of hard work, courage, and independent thought--and offers an inspiring example of how to choose our leaders.

Imogene's Last Stand by Candace Fleming and Nancy Carpenter

Another Amelia Bloomer List winner! School Library Journal wrote:

Imogene is a feisty child who loves history and spouts quotes from famous people on all occasions. When she discovers the now-abandoned Historical Society building in her New Hampshire town, she cleans it up and opens it as a museum. No one comes. Then one morning she finds a sign posted outside the building stating that it will be torn down to make room for a shoelace factory. Imogene tries to enlist the aid of the mayor and other influential people, but they all say that the factory will put them on the map. At the last minute, she finds a letter in the museum that was written by George Washington to indicate that he had slept there. The President of the United States (an African-American woman) appears and declares the museum a national landmark.

Link disclosure: A Book Long Enough is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. That means if you purchase a book through an Amazon link that appears on my site, I receive a commission.