If CPL Picked the Kids’ Book Awards

Have you ever watched an awards show and thought to yourself, if I gave out the awards, I’d have given it to…

Well, every year the American Library Association gives out awards for excellence in publishing for children, including the Caldecott and Newbery Medals. And every year, here at Chicago Public Library, we gather our children’s staff and hold our own awards discussions. Who would we have picked for the gold medal?

Each award recognizes one top place Medal winner, and a few Honors for runners-up.

Mock Caldecott: Illustration

The big winner of our mock Caldecott Medal is… Big! A gorgeous and powerful picture book about finding yourself and loving yourself, no matter what size or shape you are. Vashti Harrison fills her soft illustrations with huge emotion. This pick ended up being the actual, official Caldecott winner, too - and Harrison’s the first Black woman to win the medal.

Three mock Caldecott Honors were selected:

An American Story talks about the history and impact of slavery in America. Dare Coulter’s rich illustrations help tell the story with heart and humanity.

Evergreen is a little like Little Red Riding Hood, if she were a squirrel, and scared of pretty much everything. Matthew Cordell’s illustrations bring each character to life and add tons of humor to the adventure.

In My Powerful Hair, a girl celebrates her growing hair and her background and culture. With lively, flowing illustrations, Steph Littlebird is able to show connections between the girl’s culture and her strong, powerful hair.

Mock Newbery: Writing

Out of all the books published in the last year, we awarded our mock Newbery Medal to… The Lost Year! Author Katherine Marsh takes the reader back to the early days of the COVID pandemic, during which 13-year-old Matthew starts to learn about his family history and his great-grandmother’s childhood in Soviet Ukraine, including an astonishing family secret.

And two titles earned mock Newbery Honors:

A First Time for Everything is a super relatable memoir, in graphic novel format, of the author Dan Santat’s trip to Europe in middle school. Everyone has a first time for everything!

The Many Assassinations of Samir, the Seller of Dreams is a tale told by Omar, who can’t always be relied on to tell the truth. But in Daniel Nayeri’s book, set in the Silk Road of long ago, you can definitely rely on there being twists, turns and death-defying adventure.

You can request all of our mock winners, as well as the official ALA Youth Media Award winners, at any of our library locations. Another happy year of reading to all!

Written with contributions by CPL staff member Josh Farnum.