While participating in ReFoReMo which showcases a lot of great picture book titles throughout the month of March, I got to thinking about the latest ALA (American Library Association) awards which were announced on Jan. 28, 2019. Luckily, just about all of the winners are available at my library, so I’d like to belatedly share a brief look at some of them for those of you who might have missed these special titles. Congratulations to all the talented authors, illustrators, and editors behind the following books for children.
The John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature went to Merci Suárez Changes Gears. This beautiful book for ages 9 to 12 was written by Meg Medina and published by Candlewick Press. The story is about a 6th grade girl’s coming-of-age and includes her relationship with her grandfather who has Alzheimer’s disease. Humor, heart, a believable main character, and a well-done plot!
Two Newbery Honor Books were announced, as well: The Night Diary, written by Veera Hiranandani and published by Dial Books for Young Readers; and The Book of Boy, written by Catherine Gilbert Murdock, illustrated by Ian Schoenherr and published by Greenwillow Books.
The Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children went to Hello Lighthouse and was illustrated and written by Sophie Blackall. The book was published by Little, Brown and Company. This is such a gorgeous book. I’ve researched lighthouse history before and this has it all, telling the sweet story of a lighthouse keeper and his family during the time just before lighthouses became automated. A beautifully illustrated peek at coastal history with informative back matter on the endpapers.
Four Caldecott Honor Books were named: Alma and How She Got Her Name, illustrated and written by Juana Martinez-Neal and published by Candlewick Press; A Big Mooncake for Little Star, illustrated and written by Grace Lin and published by Little, Brown and Company; The Rough Patch, illustrated and written by Brian Lies and published by Greenwillow Books; and Thank You, Omu! illustrated and written by Oge Mora and published by Little, Brown and Company. (shown further down)
The Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award recognizing an African-American author and illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults went to A Few Red Drops: The Chicago Race Riot of 1919, written by Claire Hartfield. The book is published by Clarion Books. This important book with photographs throughout includes a wealth of interesting detailed history leading up to the race riots.
Three King Author Honor Books were selected: Finding Langston, written by Lesa Cline-Ransome and published by Holiday House; The Parker Inheritance, written by Varian Johnson and published by Arthur A. Levine Books; and The Season of Styx Malone, written by Kekla Magoon and published by Wendy Lamb Books.
Coretta Scott King (Illustrator) Book Award went to The Stuff of Stars, illustrated by Ekua Holmes. The book is written by Marion Dane Bauer and published by Candlewick Press. Gorgeous illustrations of hand marbled paper assembled digitally into collages along with poetic text describe how the universe was formed and how we are all a part of that magic.
Three King Illustrator Honor Books were selected: Hidden Figures, illustrated by Laura Freeman, written by Margot Lee Shetterly and published by HarperCollins Children’s Books; Let the Children March, illustrated by Frank Morrison, written by Monica Clark-Robinson and published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company; and Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie, written by Alice Faye Duncan and published by Calkins Creek, an imprint of Highlights.
The Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Author Award went to Monday’s Not Coming, written by Tiffany D. Jackson. The book is published by Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. I have not read this book yet, but according to the almost 1,200 reviews it has already received on Goodreads, it sounds amazing, albeit difficult to read for the strong emotions it produces.
And the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Illustrator Award went to Thank You, Omu!, illustrated and written by Oge Mora and published by Little, Brown Young Readers. A wonderful addition to the growing collection of books incorporating kindness and community. I absolutely loved the folktale-style plot and colorful illustrations.
Speaking of ALA, the below video was featured at their big annual midwinter conference courtesy of the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators). Check out my own little book Roller Boy at 23:56! Here’s their blurb: From the 2019 ALA Midwinter Meetings and Exhibits that took place January 25-29, 2019 in Seattle WA, videos from SCBWI members showcasing and talking about their new books. This video was shown at the SCBWI booth to thousands of librarians who attended the conference.
Call Me Amy chosen for 2014 Best Books of the Year!
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Great Reviews for CALL ME AMY
“Well-drawn, sympathetic characters and the developing spark between Amy and Craig combine to create a pleasant, satisfying read.” –KIRKUS
“Strykowski lovingly captures seaside Maine and the travails of adolescence in her quiet, sweet-natured debut novel.”—PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
“Strykowski ably depicts Amy’s insecurity and self-doubt, Craig’s bravura and pain, and Miss Cogshell’s wisdom with a deft, convincing touch. In essence, Amy comes of age as she fights to find her voice in the outside world and shed some of her debilitating insecurity. Readers will cheer her on, and her splendid team, too.” –BOOKLIST
"The protagonist grows throughout the story, from a shy loner to having two friends and speaking her mind in front of her adversaries at school as well as to the whole town. …Amy is a reliable narrator and easily relatable.” –SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL
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“To do a good deed, we can find friendship in the most curious of locations. “Call Me Amy” is a novel from Marcia Strykowski following the struggles of Amy Henderson, who finds an injured seal and seeks to nurse it, with the help of a scorned aging woman and an unusual youth. Set in the early 70s and exploring the essence of loneliness, “Call Me Amy” is a powerful read that should prove so very hard to put down, highly recommended.”—MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW
“This is a wonderful YA tale for the simple fact that it shows one and all that the power and courage to stand up and be heard in this life comes from within. And that no matter who you are, you have that toughness inside your soul. Craig has a lovely heart that hides behind that sarcasm he aims at the world, and he will remind every small town girl about that quiet boy she fell in love with long ago. ‘Old Coot’ brings the fun and humor along with her, and Pup is the sweetest creature in the world. Having all the ingredients of first love, faith, loss and strength makes ‘Amy’ unforgettable.” —FEATHERED QUILL
“For Amy, 1973 has been a lonely year, her only friend moved away and she feels awkward around her classmates. Until one day Amy discovers that Craig, another classmate, has rescued an injured seal pup. Amy agrees to help him and together they hide the pup at Miss Cogshell’s house, the odd old lady most kids call “Old Coot.” Amy learns that people aren’t always what they seem to be, and she forms a friendship with Craig and Miss Cogshell. A great story about friendship and doing what you think is right.” —KIDSBOOKSHELF
“For those ages 8 to 12, Call Me Amy by Marcia Strykowski will resonate with familiar themes of growing up. The year is 1973 and for Amy Henderson, it has been a lonely one with too many awkward moments to count. When she finds an injured seal pup, she rescues him to rehabilitate him. In the process she forms an unlikely alliance with Craig, a boy around her age, and an older woman in town. With their help she discovers that people aren’t always what they seem despite what others may think of them. This is a story filled with many elements that will appeal to younger readers and I highly recommend it.”—BOOKVIEWS.COM
"A wounded seal pup propels 13-year-old Amy Henderson into an unlikely alliance with an unusual older woman and a mysterious boy in a small Maine fishing village. Readers will cheer for Amy as she protects Pup, gains confidence, faces challenges, and comes up with an idea that could change not only the future of her village, but also, her own life. With a skillful hand, Strykowski introduces us to a small town with memorable characters and the girl who could bring them all together." ---Anne Broyles, award-winning author of PRISCILLA AND THE HOLLYHOCKS
"In a small town in Maine in the 1970's, Amy is standing on the brink of becoming a young adult. The events that will force her to discover who she is, what she is made of and how she wants others to perceive her are sweetly told through awkward teenage moments, the triumphs and sadnesses of that age and ultimately, Amy's discovery of her own beliefs, strength and courage." ---Kathleen Benner Duble, acclaimed author of THE SACRIFICE
“Call Me Amy is exactly the type of book I love. The characters are relatable and likeable; they are individuals that the reader enjoys getting to know while watching them change and develop. The setting of the small Maine coastal town is idyllic, and the reader is quickly and completely immersed in this community. Although the novel takes place in the 1970s, it feels timeless. Young readers will readily associate with Amy’s struggles and triumphs with her relationships with family and friends, and mature readers will be gently nudged back to this period in their life. These universal qualities make this novel a perfect choice for many types of readers. As a Youth Services Librarian, I would enthusiastically recommend Call Me Amy to our young patrons as well as to a more adult audience. Because it can be enjoyed on so many levels, this novel would be an ideal source of discussion for an adult/child book group.” ---Patty Falconer, Youth Services Librarian
"I just finished CALL ME AMY and I think it is wonderful with beautiful descriptions. I love the characters and their story. It is like having seen a good play or movie and later, while you are doing other things, it comes back to you and you think about the characters again." ---Peggy Arnold, retired teacher and avid reader.
For 13-year-old Amy Henderson, 1973 has been a lonely and uneventful year in her small Maine fishing village. With the help of a wounded seal pup, she gets to know Craig, who slinks around in an oversized army jacket. A new law against handling wild marine mammals brings suspense to the story. Where can they keep Pup until he heals? Their only hope is to trust Miss Cogshell, an elderly woman keeping to herself amidst jeers from the local kids, who catches them sneaking Pup into her woodshed in the middle of the night. Throughout the book, small challenges prepare Amy for her greatest one of all. A challenge that leads her to discover that everyone, herself included, has a voice worth hearing.