Luna is a preteen witch hunted by humans; Jean-Michel Basquiat was a neo-expressionist artist from Brooklyn. The unlikely pair are the subjects of two books honored by the biggest prizes in US children’s literature.
At the American Library Association’s 2017 youth media award this morning, Kelly Barnhill’s fantasy novel The Girl Who Drank the Moon won the John Newbery Medal, while Radiant Child, an illustrated book about the late artist Jean-Michel Basquiat by Javaka Steptoe, won the Randolph Caldecott Medal. See the full list of winners.
Another big winner was March: Book Three, the third volume in a graphic novel series about the life of US congressman John Lewis, by Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell. It won the Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award, for African-American authors, along with three others, making up four of the 30 total slots.
At the US National Book Awards this year, where the March team took home the award for young people’s literature, Lewis recalled that as a teenager in Alabama who wanted to check out library books, he was told that the library was only for whites.
The 95-year-old Newbery and 80-year-old Caldecott awards are important beyond just the US. In markets like China, which is booming for children’s books in translation, these prizes in particular are big drivers of sales.