The Margaret A. Edwards Award, established in 1988, honors an author, as well as a specific body of his or her work, for significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature. The annual award is administered by YALSA and sponsored by School Library Journal magazine. It recognizes an author’s work in helping adolescents become aware of themselves and addressing questions about their role and importance in relationships, society, and in the world.
The 2021 recipient is Kekla Magoon for X: A Novel co-written by Ilyasah Shabazz and published by Candlewick Press; How it Went Down published by Henry Holt and Co. Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group; The Rock and the River and Fire in the Streets both published by Aladdin, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing. Kekla Magoon will be honored at YALSA’s 2021 YA Services Symposium, which is to take place November 3-5, 2021 in Reno, NV, where she will be presented with a citation and cash prize of $2,000.
THE HUB: The Edwards award is unique in that it highlights not just the author (YOU!) but also a specific body of work from that author. What do you think made these titles stand out to the selection committee?
MAGOON: The connection, in my mind, is that all these titles focus on civil rights and social justice, either in a historical or contemporary context. These books were also often the first of their kind, or the first to tackle a particular narrative or topic, such as featuring Black Panther Party history in The Rock and the River, or addressing the frequent, tragic, often-controversial shootings of Black people in How it Went Down. Though there have since been other books on these topics, the committee seemed to recognize that these books arrived early in the conversation and continue to inspire discussion and dialogue among readers.
THE HUB: If an author’s books are like beloved children, which of your “shy” children do you wish would get more attention?
There are several ways to approach the 2021 Reading Challenge here at The Hub, though there’s no easy way to five in a row! One way to get started is to look at the 2021 ALA YMA winners and honorees, many of which can fill more than one spot on the Bingo board.
Let’s begin with those top corners. The Odyssey Award is given each year to excellent audiobooks produced for children or young adults. The 2021 winner was Kent State by Deborah Wiles, which is also a full-cast audiobook, so it would work for either corner. Another award-winning title with a full cast audiobook is Traci Chee’s We Are Not Free, a 2021 Printz honor book.
Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse, published by Saga Press, an imprint of Simon & Schuster (ISBN 9781534437678).
The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune, published by Tom Doherty Associates/Tor Books (ISBN 9781250217288).
The Impossible First: From Fire to Ice – Crossing Antarctica Alone by Colin O’Brady, published by Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster (ISBN 9781982133115).
Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio by Derf Backderf, published by Abrams Comicarts (ISBN 9781419734847).
The Kids Are Gonna Ask by Gretchen Anthony, published by Park Row Books (ISBN 9780778308744).
The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones published by Saga Press, an imprint of Simon & Schuster (ISBN 9781982136451).
Plain Bad Heroines by emily m. danforth, published by William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins (ISBN 9780062942852) .
Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi, published by Tom Doherty Associates/Tor Books (ISBN 9781250214751).
Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh, published by Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster (ISBN 9781982156947).
We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry, published by Pantheon Books, a division of Penguin Random House (ISBN 9781524748098).
In addition to the winning titles, the committee has also released the full vetted list of titles that were nominated for the Alex Award. View the list.
X: A Novel, co-written by Ilyasah Shabazz and published by Candlewick Press
How it Went Down, published by Henry Holt and Co. Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group;
The Rock and the River, published by Aladdin, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing
Fire in the Streets, published by Aladdin, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing
If These Wings Could Fly by Kyrie McCauley, published by Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of HarperCollins. 9780062885029.
The Rise & Fall of Charles Lindbergh by Candace Fleming and published by Schwartz and Wade, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Random House. 9780525646549.
In addition to the finalists and award winner, YALSA also publishes a list of vetted nominations for the Nonfiction Award. View the list. If you’d like to learn more about the list of nominations, join us for a special booktalk with the Nonfiction Committee on February 24, 7pm EST. Register for the event for free.
Kent State written in verse by Deborah Wiles, powerfully narrated by Christopher Gebauer, Lauren Ezzo, Christina Delaine, Johnny Heller, Roger Wayne, Korey Jackson, and David de Vries and produced by Paul R. Gange for Scholastic Audio.
Clap When You Land written by Elizabeth Acevedo, narrated by Elizabeth Acevedo and Melania-Luisa Marte, and produced by Caitlin Garing for HarperAudio, a division of HarperCollins Publishers.
Fighting Words is written by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, narrated by Bahni Turpin and produced by Karen Dziekonski for Listening Library, an imprint of Penguin Random House Audio.
Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You is written by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi, narrated by Jason Reynolds with an introduction by Ibram X. Kendi, and produced by Robert Van Kolken for Hachette Audio.
When Stars Are Scattered written by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed and narrated by Faysal Ahmed, Barkhad Abdi and a full cast, is produced by Kelly Gildea and Julie Wilson for Listening Library, an imprint of Penguin Random House Audio.
Everything Sad Is Untrue (a true story) by Daniel Nayeri and published by Arthur A. Levine, an imprint of Levine Querido.
Apple (Skin to the Core) by Eric Gansworth and published by Arthur A. Levine, an imprint of Levine Querido.
Dragon Hoops Gene Luen Yang, color by Lark Pien and published by First Second Books, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group.
Every Body Looking by Candice Iloh and published by Dutton Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers, a division of Penguin Random House.
We Are Not Free by Traci Chee and published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Pura Belpré Award: Young Adult Author Award
Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez and published by Algonquin Young Readers, an imprint of Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill.
Never Look Back by Lilliam Rivera and published by Bloomsbury YA.
We Are Not from Here by Jenny Torres Sanchez and published by Philomel Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House.
Congrats again to all the winners and honors and thank you to all the book award committees for all the hard work, time, and effort they put into reading all the nominees and selecting the winners! View current and past list of winners of all of YALSA’s book awards (with annotations) on YALSA’s Book and Media Awards web page. View the full list of all the winners of the Youth Media Awards here.
At ALA annual, Angela Johnson accepted the 2018 Margaret A. Edwards Award. The Edwards Award, established in 1988, honors an author, as well as a specific body of their work, for significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature. For more information about the award and past recipients, see the YALSA website and the Teen Book Finder App.
After the audience consumed many, many tiny adorable pastries, Angela Johnson gave a speech highlighting stories from her extensive career as a writer.
Last month I wrote about canines in YA literature. This month I want to give equal time to the felines. Firstly because I had the joy of growing up in a household of cats. Secondly, there are dastardly cat gangs out there which watch our every move, and I don’t want to get on their bad side. Or so goes the familiar negative image of cats in some popular lore. However, anyone who has actually shared their life with cats knows that this is not at all the reality. Each cat, like each dog, has its own characteristics, whether affectionate or independent, forgiving or wary. With that in mind, in the following list I’ve tried to include fiction titles which I feel are well-suited to teens and which include feline characters in a variety of roles and with a variety of personalities.
Blacksad (Blacksad series) by Juan Díaz Canales & Juanjo Guarnido
The Spanish Canales and Guarnido originally created their Eisner Award-winning detective noir graphic novel series for French readers, but the setting is early 1950s U.S. This first volume collects the first three issues, which include a murder mystery and stories concerning the effects of white supremacy on individuals and the Red Scare. Private Investigator John Blacksad is an unforgettable feline. Lucia Cedeira Serantes, in her summer 2005 Young Adult Library Services article “¿Es un Pájaro? ¿Es un Avión?.…Spanish Comics for American Libraries” mentions two of the issues in this volume as being among the best in graphic novels and comics from Spain. (Adult Graphic Novel)
Book of Night with Moon (Feline Wizards trilogy) by Diane Duane
This is the first novel in a series which combines science fantasy, adventure, horror and even humor. There is a secret civilization of cats in Manhattan complete with its own language, a glossary of which is included in the novel. When the world is threatened with invasion by monsters from the “Downside”, four cats – Rhiow, Saash, Urruah and Arhu — seek out the wizard responsible for the dire situation. The cats make interesting observations about the differences between human and feline culture. (Adult Fiction) Continue reading For the Love of Cats: Felines in YA Fiction
Pam Olszewski’s 8th grade Language Arts class in Westerville, Ohio, knows Draper’s work well. They can choose Tears of a Tiger, Forged by Fire, or Darkness Before Dawn for their realistic fiction novel, and told me why her work speaks to them:
There’s a lot of cliffhangers. You have a bond with [the characters]. It feels like they’re a real person. And the books are set in Ohio. –Bankole
Realistic and heart-moving. –Robert
Really inspiring. I felt like I wanted to read all of them. –Ethan K.
Reluctant readers can connect with her characters in a way that encourages them to read. I haven’t met a kid yet who didn’t love her work. –Mrs. Olszewski
I love finding out how authors get their start at writing, and Sharon Draper’s “author origin story” has to be one of the best. According to this BookPage interview, she was already an accomplished classroom teacher when she was challenged by a student from the back row one day: “Why don’t you write something?” She took this challenge to heart. Since entering and winning first prize in a literary contest, her prodigious book output has been capturing the attention of readers both inside the classroom and out. Draper has also written additional books for teens, books for tweens, books for teachers, and two books of poetry.
Even if you haven’t read one of her titles (and there’s no time like the present!), you probably know a teen who has. Ask around and start a discussion! Book award season, diversity movements, #blacklivesmatter, Black History Month, and even challenging one’s teacher to become a writer can all be catalysts for positive connection and change. You never know what may result! Congratulations, Sharon Draper!
-Becky O’Neil, currently reading Eleanor & Park, by Rainbow Rowell