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Poet Sarah Howe has won the T.S. Eliot Poetry Prize for her debut work Loop of Jade. This is the first time a first-time collection has won the award.
The book explores Howe’s experiences exploring her Anglo-Chinese heritage on trips to Hong Kong.
“In a year with an incredibly ambitious and diverse shortlist, it was difficult to choose the winner,” stated Pascale Petit, chair of the judges panel. “However Sarah Howe’s Loop of Jade shone with its startling exploration of gender and injustice through place and identity, its erudition, and powerful imagery as well as her daring experiment with form. She brings new possibilities to British poetry.”
We are thrilled to share that two LEE & LOW titles have been selected for the 2016 Literature Award given by the Asian Pacific American Library Association (APALA). Congratulations to Juna’s Jar, winner in the Picture Book category, and Ink and Ashes, honor in the Young Adult category!
Here’s the full list of winners from APALA’s press release:
* Winner: Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen (Grove Press)
Viet Than Nguyen weaves a compelling story of a Vietnamese double agent in his debut novel The Sympathizer. The novel brings humor and a critical eye to the Vietnam War and narratives of Vietnamese refugees.
* Honor: Don’t Let Him Know by Sandip Roy (Bloomsbury USA)
Sandip Roy blends family secrets, arranged marriages, and culture clash in his debut novel, Don’t Let Him Know. From the new bride Romola who arrives in the United States to her only child Amit, who discovers a family secret, readers will be fascinated with the interconnected stories about family, friendship, and culture.
* Winner: The Making of Asian America by Erika Lee (Simon and Schuster)
Dr. Erica Lee, University of Minnesota History Faculty & Immigration History Research Center Director, compiled an astounding 17 chapter single volume of research which falls on the 50th anniversary of the commemoration of the United States Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965. Lee’s significant centennial plus documentation includes and describes some of the most important annals of Asian American history in the areas of immigration, assimilation, civil rights as well as noteworthy contributions and strides made to the American landscape attributed to Americans of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino Vietnamese, Cambodian, Sikh, Hindu and other Asian ancestry and heritage.
* Honor: Canton Restaurant to Panda Express by Haiming Liu (Rutgers University Press)
To the Chinese people, food is the aggregator of warm social interaction. Haiming Liu in this new title has documented the story of the social history of a transcultural people by weaving the history of the early Chinese settlers, their assimilation into their adopted American culture with the story of their continually adaptive cuisine which includes the present-day fusion and fast food industry. This intriguing title examines the developmental history of the Chinese up from the mid 1800’s and their commitment to American society while retaining their own unique brand of what it means to have Chinese ancestry.
* Honor: The Good Immigrant: How the yellow peril became the model minority by Madilyn Y. Hsu (Princeton University Press)
The Good Immigrant stands out as an impeccable study which fills a critical void in the literature of Asian America. Its focused research reveals discoveries about a unique group of immigrant whose history has been generally overlooked. It explores into the past and more recent immigration from Asia, such as transnational immigrant student, the intellectual, the entrepreneurial businessman, and etc., which garnered notice of the growing influence of Asian Americans. Until Hsu’s articulate and scholarly endeavor few have found cause to investigate.
* Winner: P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers)
PS I Still Love You was a contemporary and relatable story to many teens that we as a committee even wished we had a book like this to read and refer to during our teenage years. Furthermore, Han is able to depict Lara Jean, the protagonist in a very positive and relatable light for not only for other Asians but people in general as well. Lara Jean is able to be both Korean and “normal,” and avoids being typecasted into certain tropes.
* Honor: Ink and Ashes by Valynne E. Maetani (Tu Books, an imprint of Lee & Low Books)
Ink and Ashes was very interesting and different than what we had read. It was contemporary, but yet the readers will learn a lot about the Japanese histories and superstitions through Claire and her research into her family history which contains links to the Yakuza – the Japanese Mafia. With suspense, mystery, and a dash of romance, this book has teen appeal and would be suitable for a movie adaptation.
* Winner: Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton (Dial Books/Penguin Random House)
The committee was especially impressed with Full Cicada Moon, praising Hilton’s engaging examination of racial (and particularly, biracial), gender, and social issues, as well as the powerful verse in which it was elegantly told. The portrayal of the remarkable Mimi—a strong protagonist whose memorable journey is both stirringly and gracefully developed.
* Honor: Blackbird Fly by Erin Entrada Kelly (Green Willow Books/Harper Collins)
Kelly’s entertaining and refreshing debut novel was enjoyed by the committee. Of one particular note was the sensitive development of its believable protagonist, the smooth detailing of Apple’s ethnic heritage and her struggles to embrace it, and overall, the hopeful yet not overly didactic message it presents on exploring one’s identity and the adolescent experience.
* Winner: Juna’s Jar by Jane Bahk, illustrated by Felicia Hoshino (Lee & Low Books)
Juna’s Jar celebrates imagination, while also showcasing cross-racial best friends in modern day Los Angeles. It charmingly captures the adventures and heartache of a little girl—who just happens to be a Korean American.
* Honor: Drum Dream Girl by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Rafael Lopez (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers)
Millo Castro Zaldarriaga is a Chinese-African-Cuban girl who dreamed of drumming at a time when only boys were allowed to drum. Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music celebrates music, culture, gender, and the right to dream.
The winners will each receive an award plaque and an award seal on their book at the APALA Award Ceremony on Saturday, June 25, 2016 during the ALA Annual Conference in Orlando, FL.
Isn't that awesome! First month of the year and Anna and Crocodile win a surprise honour.
I wrote a making-of feature for the Walker Books blog, you can read it here.
I wondered who these instructions were for. Was this a chapter from a pirate primer? Who was reading it now and why? I started to illustrate it, first imagining myself as a small child, practicing to sleep with my eyes open to make sure no one could steal the gold I hadn’t found yet.
“Get yourself a pet that will surprise you at night,” the story recommended. “A crocodile is ideal. Carry one with you wherever you go to build up your strength. Start with a young crocodile. It will grow.”
This was an idea taken from the Greek myth of Milo who carried a calf on his shoulders every day until it grew into a bull and he grew into a mighty Olympian. More importantly, one summer when I was tiny my mother bought me an inflatable crocodile in the supermarket. It was big enough to ride on and intended for the seaside. I carried it everywhere, dragging it by the tail until its snout wore through on the tarmac and it deflated before the holiday even started.
I drew a girl and her toy crocodile. It wasn’t quite right. They just seemed very quiet and small. - I drew them in on a new page and asked the girl some questions about the crocodile. She said it was called Rupert Maureen, and didn’t move unless she threw it and she wasn’t supposed to throw it. I didn’t expect that.
Watch the Golden Globes last night? Well, it's award season for books, too!
The big news today for librarians, parents, teachers, and fans of #kidlit, is the announcement of the American Library Association's Youth Media Awards. I'll be driving to work as the live webcast begins, but I'll be checking in as soon as I get to work!
The American Library Association has announced that Last Stop on Market Street author Matt de la Peña is the winner of the prestigious John Newbery Medal. Throughout his career, de la Peña has written 6 young adult novels, 2 middle grade novels, and 2 picture books.
Last Stop on Market Street features illustrations created by Christian Robinson. Robinson earned a Caldecott Honor for this picture book.
We’ve linked to free samples of the Newbery Medal-winning title and the Newbery Honor books below. In addition to the newest winner of the Newbery Medal, the organization has also revealed that Finding Winnie illustrator Sophie Blackall has won the Randolph Caldecott Medal, Bone Gap author Laura Ruby has won the Michael L. Printz Award, Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda author Becky Albertalli has won the William C. Morris Award, and Boy Meets Boy author David Levithan has won the Margaret A. Edwards Award. Follow this link to access free samples from last year’s pool of Youth Media Award winners.
Free Samples of the ALA Youth Media Award Recognized Books
I know you really wanted your phone to ring this morning.
I know you were hoping to be woken up by a happy speakerphone full of people telling you how they had just changed your life.
I know you charged your phone last night, just in case.
I know you got excited when the phone rang, even if it was a wrong number.
I know you waited until the press conference was over and all the awards were announced to be sure, because maybe they forgot to call.
I know you composed a rough draft of your acceptance speech in your head.
I know you won't admit to anyone how badly you wanted it.
I know you tell people that you don’t really care about the awards… because they are not why you make books for children.
I know that the phones of some of your friends did ring today and that you’ll congratulate them for all you’re worth.
Maybe this was supposed to be your year.
Maybe all your friends told you would win. Maybe your book won all the mock awards.
Maybe your book got a lot of starred reviews. Maybe your publisher said it was a sure thing.
Maybe this was the book you’ve worked on forever.
Maybe you believed in this book more than any other.
Maybe it was close.
Maybe there were four phone calls and your book came in fifth.
Maybe there were committee members who were deeply in love with your book and fought for it, but the other votes just were't there. Maybe if different people were on the committee this year, the result would have been different.
Maybe lightening just didn’t strike.
Maybe your life didn’t change today, but I promise you, your books are changing the lives of the children who read them.
I hope your day comes and you get to hear the phone ring.
I hope you keep making wonderful books.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ For a few more award related posts from the perspective of someone who has been there: here's why I stopped predicting the Caldecott and Newbery Medal results and here's how book award committees differ from each other.
To vote for the ALA Youth Media Awards that made you the happiest today, see the poll on the sidebar.
There’s a land far away where imaginary friends come into being and wait to be imagined by a real child. But what if a real child never imagines you? Might you remain stuck, forever in limbo?
The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat (@dsantat) follows one imaginary friend as he decided to take action into his own hands venturing bravely forth to seek a real friend to play with (and to name him). The real world is a strange place, with muted colours and tired people failing to see joy or find fun around them. But then our still un-named imaginary friend recognises a flash of colour in the rush-hour crowd – an old imaginary friend from the land of their birth, and follows the creature. Will this lead him to a real friend? And just how do you make friends when you’ve not had a friend before and don’t know where to start?
Santat’s tale about our desire to find friendship, the difficulties we can encounter along the way, and the joy and joint adventuring it can bring is full of charm and hope. It’s gentle, optimistic and beautiful. It also happens to be award-winning, and not just any old award: Almost exactly a year ago, The Adventures of Beekle won the most prestigious picture book award in the US – the Randolph Caldecott Medal.
UK publishers, Andersen Press, are now bringing this gorgeous book to the UK market. Yes, it’s true that those of us with UK/Eire addresses can get hold of just about any US book thanks to online ordering, but many brilliant US-published children’s books never make it main stream here (i.e into schools, into public libraries, into highstreet bookshops) because they aren’t published by “local” publishers and are therefore not straightforward for organisations to order (or even to find out about). I find this especially frustrating with graphic novels and children’s non-fiction, genres in which I think the US is a world leader.
Why do some books make it across the Atlantic when others don’t? To my eye there is a decidedly American flavour to the illustrations in The Adventures of Beekle, something to do with the slightly soft focus, polished animation feel to the imagery. Differences in illustration fashion clearly aren’t necessarily a problem. And yet if we look at which Caldecott winners have made it to the UK, we see that it’s surprisingly few; of the past 20 winners, I think only 5 have been picked up by UK publishing houses.
As it happens, the 2016 Caldecott Medal winner us being announced TODAY (January 11). Will it be a book that makes it across to the UK?
[I do encourage you to follow the announcements of all the ALA Youth Media Awards, of which the Caldecott is just one. If you’re on Twitter, you might use #ALAyma to find out about the winners. You can also watch the announcements as they are streamed live http://ala.unikron.com/2016/]
Either which way, The Adventures of Beekle is a delightful, heart-warming story about friendship, courage and reaching out. I’m really pleased that thanks to its UK publishers it will now find its way into many more homes, schools and libraries on this side of the pond.
Especially taken by the illustration below of a tree full of leaves / stars, we were inspired to set up a piece of guerilla public art in the name of Beekle and everyone who could do with a bit of good cheer:
Using air-drying clay, some cookie cutters and letter stamps we created a whole host of starry leaves to hang in a tree by our favourite playground. We stamped each tree with a friendly, encouraging message, hoping to raise a smile amongst those who come across the starry leaves.
…we threaded them with string…
…visited our favourite playground…
…and hung up our good wishes to all.
We’re hoping visitors to the playground will find the stars and take one they like home, spreading Beekle good wishes around the local community!
As we approach this year's announcement, our attention is focused on the big book awards such as the Caldecott and Newbery. But there are dozens of awards of all shapes and sizes. After serving on a lot of award committees, I can tell you that the experience varies greatly depending on the award. Here's some of the questions I get asked a lot:
How do you get on the award committee?
-Sometimes you get nominated, and then selected by a nominating committee to be on the ballot, and then win an election. Or you get appointed by the head of the association to be on the committee.
-Sometimes you fill out an application and send in writing samples.
-Sometimes you tell the chair of the committee that you’re interested.
How do you get eligible books to read?
-Sometimes they are sent in large boxes that arrive from publishers of all sizes on your doorstep full of hardcover, first editions of all the books they’ve published that season.
-Sometimes they are sent in occasional envelopes from publishers and directly from self-published authors.
-Sometimes you spend countless hours in the library and searching relevant databases and review journals desperately trying to find eligible books.
How do you decide on the winners?
-Sometimes everyone on the committee comes together from all over the country, and are sequestered for several days in one room until they emerge with the results.
-Sometimes you meet several times over the course of a year for short meetings.
-Sometimes you use e-mail or Skype, but never actually meet or talk to other committee members in person.
What do the authors and illustrators think about being given your award?
-Sometimes it literally changes their lives. Sometimes it lets them afford to be a full-time author or illustrator when they couldn’t before. Sometimes they cry or exclaim in joy or at a loss for words when you tell them they’ve won.
-Sometimes they are honored and touched. They hadn’t heard of your award before but they are delighted to be recognized and truly appreciate it.
-Sometimes they don’t even know they’ve won until they Google their name.
How does the public find out about your list of winners?
-Sometimes they are announced with great fanfare at a giant press conference in front of over thousand people who scream and cheer while others tune in to the big moment online from all over the country.
-Sometimes they are read at a small conference in front of people who have never heard of any of the books on your list but applaud politely at the end.
-Sometimes they are announced in a press release that you send to everyone you know in the hopes that someone will notice your wonderful books.
How is the award presented?
-Sometimes it is given at a beautiful banquet in front of people from every part of the children’s literature world, while the winner gives a carefully crafted and lengthy speech, which is later published and studied by graduate students.
-Sometimes the winner speaks for a few minutes at an event honoring many books and award recipients.
-Sometimes the winner gets the award in the mail.
What can you say about the award process?
-Sometimes it’s all an enormous secret and you can’t breathe a word of any of it. People hang on everything you say; even the tiniest detail, and you can never, ever, ever let a real piece of information about what actually happened escape your lips. Or else.
-Sometimes you can reveal why certain books won and why others lost.
-Sometimes even if you could tell every single detail about the whole entire process, the award is so obscure that no one, probably not even the winning author, would be interested.
What remains the same?
-No matter the prestige of the award, book award committees are a lot of work. They involve reading and analyzing an enormous quantity of books, staying as impartial as possible, and making difficult choices.
-You have to work together with your committee and recognize that other people have different points of view. The book you love, others may hate and vice versa. It's not an individual decision but a group compromise.
-They help shine recognition on quality books for children and ideally get great books into the hands of readers.
I’d been waiting to write this up as things have been changing so fast but after a very brief period this morning where the list of Grand Prix nominees was posted with the 30 already picked and the addition of six women, the voting has now been thrown open. Here’s the ugly Google translate: Crossing […]
Gene Luen Yang has racked up a lot of honors for his work—first graphic novel to be shortlisted for a National Book Award (for American Born Chinese), first cartoonist to be shortlisted TWICE (second time for Boxers and Saints), and he’s won an Eisner, a PRinzt Award and in general become one of th best […]
The judges for the 2016 Eisner Awards have been announced and they are a sterling panel as usual. These six individuals will meet in April of 2016 to read thousands of comics and sift through the best to give you the nominations. The Awards will be presented on Friday, July 22 at Comic-Con in San […]
The books that claimed the number one spots include The Story of the Lost Child by Elena Ferrante, H Is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald, and Carry On by Rainbow Rowell. Below, we’ve collected free samples of these books for your reading pleasure.
The McDuffie Award for Diversity in Comics was established last year to recognize comics work that promotes the spirit of diversity. (I was honored to be on the inaugural judging panel.) Submissions for the 2016 award are open until December 31st. The winner will be announced at the Long Beach Comic Con on February 20, […]
Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami has won the 2015 Hans Christian Andersen Prize, Denmark’s leading literary honor.
Murakami will receive the award and its $71,400 purse at a ceremony in Odense, Denmark (Andersen’s hometown) in October 2016. The Economic Times has the scoop: “The jury honoured Murakami’s ‘bold mix of classic narrative, pop culture, Japanese tradition, dreamlike realism and philosophical debate.'”
Previous winners include: Paolo Coehlo, J.K. Rowling, Isabel Allende and Salman Rushdie.
Why do I love Dr. Huck? First, because of her commitment to children's literature. Here are excerpts from her 2005 obituary in the L.A. Times:
The educator's 33-year effort to develop and enhance an academic program in children's literature at Ohio State University established her as a national authority on the subject.
Huck's reputation grew with the 1961 publication of her textbook, "Children's Literature in the Classroom," now in its seventh edition, and with her 1976 creation of the quarterly review Wonderfully Exciting Books, covering classroom use of children's books.
"Reading was part of my life, and I wanted children to have the same opportunity," Huck said in a 1981 appearance on television's "Good Morning America."
A native of Evanston, Ill., Huck studied at Wellesley College and earned her bachelor's degree from Northwestern University. After teaching briefly in Midwestern elementary schools, she completed her master's and doctorate at Ohio State University and joined its faculty in 1955.
While she was teaching teachers how to boost children's reading, Huck earned Ohio State's Distinguished Teaching Award in 1972 and the Landau Award for Distinguished Service in teaching children's literature in 1979.
Huck also served on the American Library Association committees for the Newbery and Caldecott medals, awarded to outstanding writers of children's literature.
Huck retired from Ohio State in 1988. But she wasn't finished.
Relocating to Redlands, she wrote five children's books herself: "Princess Furball," "Secret Places," "Toads and Diamonds," "The Black Bull of Norroway" and "A Creepy Countdown."
Huck helped create an annual children's literature festival at the University of Redlands, similar to one she had developed at Ohio State. The Redlands festival was named for her in 2000.
"We must keep reading aloud to children," she advised teachers at the 1998 festival. "If you're not reading aloud to them, you're not teaching reading. The story is what motivates children to want to read."
Now that's a children's literature champion.
The second reason I love her is because of this award established in her honor by the National Council of Teachers of English. The award recognizes "fiction that has the potential to transform children’s lives by inviting compassion, imagination, and wonder." What a glorious statement! And to my extreme delight, Tiger Boy has been selected as a 2016 NTCE Charlotte Huck Outstanding Fiction for Children Honor Book (in excellent company)!
I've changed my vocational statement thanks to Dr. Huck. From now on it is to "invite compassion, imagination, and wonder" through my fiction. Congratulations to all the winners!
And the year end parade continues, and I’m sensing something of a move for Noelle Stevenson’s Nimona to be the book of the year. At any rate, it’s on a lot of lists. But maybe Killing and Dying? The Good Reads voting is over, with the winner to be announced on the 30th. The finalists […]
And Who’s on first. Never realized there were so many jokes to be made with Richard McGuire’s masterful graphic novel Here. It’s the only gn to make the New York Times list of 100 Notable Books of 2015, which is a little disappointing, especially since Here came out in last 2014, but there weren’t too […]
I think we’ve all written letters like this one. Responding to the announcement that David Almond’s A Song for Ella Grey had won the Guardian Children’s Fiction Award, author Lynne Reid Banks wrote to that publication:
“Buoyed up by David Almond’s beautiful description (21 November) of his inspiration for writing A Song for Ella Grey, which has just won the Guardian children’s book prize, I went out and bought two copies for my 12-year-old grandchildren. I trusted him, and I trusted the Guardian – I would never buy a Carnegie medal winner without reading it first.
In the first five pages there is lesbian love, swearing, drinking, and enough other indications that, once again, this is not a book for children. Children are people up to the age of 12. They are not grownups of 17. The books are going straight back to Waterstones.
Woe to us who really do write for children! No prizes for us. Publishing is not a children’s world any more.”
So we all, as we do, jumped down her throat. She was stuffy, out of touch, censorious. I chimed in with a gotcha tweet linking to my review of her own sexy Melusine, published by Charlotte Zolotow at Harper twenty five years ago for ages 12 and up. But I don’t think Banks is so much bothered by Almond’s book (which she admitted she had not read) as she is by an award with “children” in its title going to a book for teens. Her statement that the winner is “once again” not for children as she defines them seems to indicate some simmering resentment on this point, albeit obliquely directed at the Carnegie medal rather than the Guardian award. But even here, her argument seems in bad faith. Almond’s “beautiful description” that impelled Banks to buy the book makes clear that it is for teenagers, and the Guardian award, as well as the Carnegie medal, has gone to YA books before. It is perhaps unkind but on point to say that Banks has never won either.
While Banks’ argument seems to be at heart self-serving, I think there are some valuable discussions yet to be had about the advisability of people as well as prizes lumping children’s and YA books together. And her calling seventeen-year-olds “grownups” has potentially revolutionary implications for our industry. If it is indeed true that most YA fiction is now bought by adults for their own reading pleasure, why not accede the publishing of those books to the adult trade divisions, and why not take them out of the running for children’s book awards?
Broken Frontier, a long running site about comics, put out nominations for its comics awards last week. The nominees were chosen by the staff of the site, and they reflect a very broad attempt to reflect the entirety of comics in a way that awards rarely do. I won’t rerun the whole list but a […]