The Library Reacts to the 2018 ALA Youth Media Awards

in Spring 2018 by

Each year, librarians and children’s literature fans nationwide excitedly anticipate the announcements of the American Library Association (ALA) Youth Media Awards. This year, many of our favorite books received unprecedented acclaim, and yet we also discovered new treasures.

We are pleased to share our highlights.
             ~  Tory Lane, Christian Porter, Elyse Seltzer


Hello, Universe, by Erin Entrada Kelly
     Winner, John Newbery Medal

Quietly and magically this book wraps ropes around your heart and refuses to let go. Four children with tenuous connections and deep needs of friendship come together. There will be danger. There will be bullying. There will be psychic consultation, but under NO circumstances will there be coincidences. Also, a guinea pig gets its fill of dandelions under very trying conditions. TL

Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut, by Derrick Barnes
illustrated by Gordon C. James

     Honor, Caldecott Medal
     Honor, Newbery Medal
     Honor, Coretta Scott King Award (author and illustrator)

This small press publication made a big impact, winning FOUR! awards for writing and illustration. In this vibrant picture book, a boy’s fresh cut becomes the opportunity to lyrically celebrate the “assured humanity of black boys/sons/brothers/nephews/grandsons.” A book that certainly belongs in every library and barber shop! CP

Piecing Me Together, by Renée Watson
     Winner, Coretta Scott King Award (author)
     Honor, Newbery Medal

This exquisitely written novel smartly and honestly explores race, privilege, and relationships. Jade is gifted student and artist who is striving for success in a world that does not often favor a black girl who is poor and large. The journey of Jade’s self-actualization is one that you won’t want to end (I didn’t!). CP

Long Way Down, by Jason Reynolds
     Honor, Newbery Medal
     Honor, Printz Award
     Honor, Coretta Scott King Award (author)
     Honor, Odyssey Award (audiobook)

The latest in a long string of hits by Jason Reynolds. This poignant verse novel accompanies Will on a trip down an elevator as he struggles to cope with the death of his older brother, while following the rules of the neighborhood: 1. No Crying 2. No Snitching 3. Revenge. Long Way Down was also a finalist for the National Book Award, making this novel the most celebrated work of the year. ES

The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas
     Winner, William C. Morris Award
     Winner, Odyssey Award (audiobook)
     Honor, Coretta Scott King Award (author)
     Honor, Printz Award

Star is a 16 year-old black girl caught between the world of her prestigious suburban school and her poverty-stricken home, communities that present both uncomfortable challenges and necessary supports. These worlds are equally rocked when Star witnesses the shooting of her friend, an unarmed black boy. The novel’s title references Tupac’s acronym, THUG LIFE, imploring us to see our young black boys as boys, not thugs. ES

The 57 Bus, by Dashka Slater
     Winner, Stonewall Book Award
     Finalist, YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction

Using poetry, excerpts from social media, and extensive research, The 57 Bus diligently strives to tell a true and painful story from multiple perspectives. It looks at the complex circumstances and consequences of race, class, gender, and the criminal justice system. What overwhelmingly comes across is how love, forgiveness, and empathy are our best hope for a bright future. TL

Park's outstanding library, which contains 30,000 volumes and countless digital materials, is truly the heart of the School. Four librarians provide a welcoming resource center and gathering place for the whole Park community.