Children's Books That Won Prestigious Awards This Year

Jan 25, 2021
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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

This has been an exciting day in the world of children's literature. NPR's Neda Ulaby tells us about the winners of the annual Newbery and Caldecott medals announced this morning in a ceremony that took place, of course, online.

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UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: The winner of this year's John Newbery Medal...

NEDA ULABY, BYLINE: The John Newbery Medal is one of the oldest, most prestigious awards in children's literature that, this year, went to...

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UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: "When You Trap A Tiger" written by Tae Keller.

ULABY: Tae Keller reworked Korean folktales for her story about a girl with a superpower.

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GRETA JUNG: (Reading) I can turn invisible.

ULABY: In the audio book of "When You Trap A Tiger," the main character says being invisible means you're anonymous.

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JUNG: (Reading) I used to hate being invisible, but now I understand it's because I'm magic.

ULABY: The Newbery and other awards handed out by the American Library Association can work magic on book sales. This year's Caldecott Medal for picture books went to "We Are Water Protectors" illustrated by Michaela Goade about U.S. Indigenous tribes fighting to preserve the planet. Writer Carole Lindstrom, a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwe Indians, read it on YouTube for the bookstore Politics and Prose.

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CAROLE LINDSTROM: (Reading) We fight for those who cannot fight for themselves - the winged ones, the crawling ones, the four-legged, the two-legged, the plants, trees, rivers, lakes.

ULABY: And in Latinx literature, there are several big medals named for pioneering Puerto Rican librarian Pura Belpre. One went to the picture book "Vamos! Let’s Go Eat" by Raul Gonzalez, and another went to a middle-grade novel, "Efren Divided," about a boy in an undocumented family who wakes to his mother making sopas for breakfast.

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ERNESTO CISNEROS: (Reading) Just one of the many milagros Ama performed on a daily basis - something super; super sopes, sopes, sopers. That made Ama Soperwoman.

ULABY: Author Ernesto Cisneros is a middle-school teacher himself. On the YouTube channel BookBound 2020, He says he hopes his story in which the mom is deported helps put a face on a child in this crisis.

Neda Ulaby, NPR News.

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