On January 28, 2019, The American Library Association announced its 2019 book award winners. Below are some of the winners.
The Randolph Caldecott Medal is awarded for the most distinguished American picture book for children. This year’s winner is “Hello Lighthouse,” illustrated and written by Sophie Blackall.
The John Newbery Medal is awarded for outstanding contribution to children’s literature. “Merci Suárez Changes Gears,” written by Meg Medina, has won this award.
The Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults has been awarded to “The Poet X,” written by Elizabeth Acevedo.
The Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award for the most distinguished informational book for children went to “The Girl Who Drew Butterflies: How Maria Merian’s Art Changed Science,” written by Joyce Sidman.
The YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults went to “The Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian Refugees,” written and illustrated by Don Brown.
The Stonewall Book Award – Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children’s & Young Adult Literature Award is given annually to English-language children’s and young adult books of exceptional merit relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender experience. This year’s winners are “Julián Is a Mermaid,” written by Jessica Love and “Hurricane Child,” written by Kheryn Callender.
The Appearance of Annie Van Sinderen by Katherine Howe:
This is a ghost story with historical elements and the required romantic angle for teens. Wes, an NYU summer session student and aspiring film maker happens to meet Annie at a séance where a friend is shooting a piece. She’s alluring and other-worldly and while the reader knows right away Annie is long dead, Wes is clueless. That’s okay. Wes is confused enough being in the city, trying to survive, and fulfill his own dreams finally away from his father’s prying eyes. Eventually, Wes is drawn into helping Annie figure out why she is so out of place and out of sync in the real world.
The novel alternates between the present and Annie’s 1825 reality. The two different New York cities stand side by side as Wes and Annie try to determine what happened and why Annie is caught in between. The author masterfully manages the timeline and the flow of the mystery. Annie is not presented as the typical ghost since she has physical existence, but like most ghosts not everyone can see her. There are some funny scenes as Wes and Annie move about a modern city. Adding to the enjoyment of the book are several secondary characters who are interesting and well-developed. Just when you think you’ve figured it all out, the author pulls off a surprise ending. All and all, a good book and if you don’t watch out, you might just learn a little history along the way!
Summer is here! School is out, and it won’t be long before the kids are complaining that they’re bored. Books geared to an individual child’s taste can help keep the summer break fun and exciting. I’m happy to share that my book, Elephants Never Forgotten, is listed along with other great summer reads here:
In this incredibly beautiful book, we encounter seventeen-year-old Sora dealing with the fatal diagnosis of Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS). Set in modern day Japan, the teen faces the deterioration of his body, a growing sense of isolation, and all the big philosophical questions we would expect. The grownups around him offer what help they can but they serve mostly to point out how society as a whole can’t face death. Sora finds some solace in the death poetry of Samurai warriors, but they are distant echoes from the past. Looking for friendship, and confined at home by the disease, he reaches out through the internet to find companionship. Even though the disease is progressing, Sora eventually risks meeting two of the friends he’s made online. Skittish at first, the friends have as much trouble dealing with death as the adults do, but they come together anyway.
This is a book about friendship, courage, and death. It doesn’t shy away from the unfairness of life. Because of that and some push back in reviews I’ve read, I guess this is one of those books best kept to a more mature teen audience. Some people are very concerned that a book about teen suicide was ever written. Really? And then, there’s the connection to disability and teen suicide! Nevertheless, it’s a great book for teens because all of this is difficult and there’s lots of room for discussion. On top of that there are the cultural differences between Japan and the US. What is expected of a teen in Japan is not necessarily what we would expect from a teen in the US. All of these themes make this a great jumping off point for deep thought and discussion. Recommended!