The John Newbery Medal, popularly known as the Newbery, is a literary award given by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), which is a division of the American Library Association (ALA). It’s awarded to the author of “the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children”, and for the first time ever, the recipient was a graphic novel.
image via harper collins
Jerry Craft’s New Kid, which is about an African-American boy adjusting to a new middle school, took away the Newbery this time.
image via an unlikely story
Undefeated, illustrated by Kadir Nelson and written in verse by Kwame Alexander, won both the Caldecott Medal (given to picture books) and a Newbery Honor.
image via ALBUQUERQUE Journal
Only a few years ago, librarians were debating whether a graphic novel would qualify to win a Newbery Medal, because the prize description says, in part:
“The committee is to make its decision primarily on the text. Other components of a book, such as illustrations, overall design of the book, etc. may be considered when they make the book less effective.”
It’s great to see unconventional books take away prizes which are normally stringent with their distribution, and when the representative authors are discussing relevant issues alongside immense talent, it makes it all the more inspiring to see them win.
Even though it’s been mentioned that the description seemed to weigh against graphic novels, New Kid apparently was judged to have both the text and illustrations work together to tell the incredible story of young Jordan and won the hearts of the judges to eventually claim the well deserved title.
featured image collage via befunky
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