Marcia Strykowski

ALA Awards & More

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.

Also, the below clever wiki video spotlighting 11 Great Works of Middle Grade Realistic Fiction was a wonderful surprise, check out Roller Boy at #4 (1:59).

Several conferences and book festivals coming up, but hope to chat with you real soon!


  1. FAbulous, Marcia! All the award winners AND your Roller Boy wiki video – Congratulations!!


  2. Cathy Ogren

    Great list of books! Thank you, Marcia.


  3. Louise Pryor

    Congratulations, Marcia, on having Roller boy featured in the ALA videos! What a coup!


  4. Sharon Barrow Wilfong

    Wow. What a great list of books. I am going to look some of these up. Maybe it’s time to start reading some children’s books. Thanks for the review.


    • Yes, it’s always the right time to read children’s books. Happy you found some of interest, Sharon!


  5. Michelle Elder

    Wonderful blog, as always. Go, Roller Boy!!


  6. marchoftimebooks

    Hi Marcia, a really interesting and diverse list, thank you for sharing them. Good to see Roller Boy doing so well. Congratulations and a great big hug! x


    • So great to see the ALA pick wonderful titles each year. Hope all is going well for you, Barbara. Great to hear from you and hugs back!


  7. mirkabreen

    I enjoyed the link to the post about rule breaking in PB writing. Brava! I’m delighted that the ALA recognizes greatness.


    • Hi Mirka, glad you enjoyed the ReFoReMo post, there’s a new one each day. And yes, three cheers for the ALA’s longstanding track record of good taste!


  8. Ashley

    Some of these titles look really interesting, thanks for introducing them. And how awesome is your Roller boy videos at the bottom!!! Super!!


  9. An interesting collection of books, Marcia.


  10. Some wonderful books. And so nice to see Roller Boy on the video! Well done.


    • Thanks so much, Darlene! Fun to see Roller Boy included on both. 🙂


  11. Nice summary of the ALA Awards.Just finished MERCI SUAREZ, and it’s good, although a little predictable; I’m a tad surprised it won the Newbery. Glad your book is getting some attention!


    • Yes, sometimes award choices can be unforeseen, other times not surprising at all. Thanks for stopping by, Jan!


  12. Congrats, Marcia! Glad to see Roller Boy rolling away with so many acknowledgements! You go!


  13. I remember Roller Boy! Congratulations, Marcia! And thanks for sharing this wonderful collection of books and for the sneak peek of ALA Awards. 😍😘


    • Hi Lilly! Thanks for your nice thoughts. So glad you enjoyed checking out these new books. Hope you have a nearby library and can find some of them in your pretty corner of the world. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • I haven’t been to the public library here, and I doubt if it houses these kind of books.


        • You’ll have to take a peek inside and see what you’re missing! People are always stopping in at my library and saying things like, “Oh, I didn’t know you had NEW books, too,” or they’ll come in for several years and then say “I never knew there was a second floor!” And we love it when they ask us to order a new book, it helps us plan what to buy. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  14. Bette Norton

    Wow so many interesting books! Congratulations on Roller Boy making it into the ALA videos! The video was nicely done! Roller Boy was a wonderful read and so pertinent to today’s times with issues of bullying, racism and finding one’s voice! A great post! 🙂


  15. This is a great round-up of books! Thanks for sharing.


  16. It’s awesome that Roller Boy was featured at the ALA midwinter conference. What a wonderful honor! As always, I enjoy your reviews of books. They are so helpful when I want to buy a book for a child or young person.


    • Thank you, Sheryl, it’s wonderful to hear from you and I appreciate your comment. I’m a bit behind but I love checking in on your fascinating blogs, as well. Happy spring!


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