John Corey Whaley gave himself a year to be an author. "I guess that changed today," said Whaley, who, at age 28, won the American Library Assn.'s prestigious Michael L. Printz Award Monday for excellence in literature written for young adults. "Where Things Come Back," about a teenage boy whose brother goes missing in a small Louisiana town, is his debut novel. The ALA described the book as a "witty," "sardonic," "groundbreaking coming-of-age tale."
Jack Gantos was likewise "having a really gold star day," he said, after receiving word he'd won the Newbery — an award kept "in bolt-clamped secrecy" until the wee hours Monday morning. The 60-year-old took the ALA's John Newbery Medal for most outstanding contribution to children's literature for his comedic historic novel, "Dead End in Norvelt" — a book the ALA described as "an achingly funny romp through a dingy New Deal town." In his decades-long career writing for young adult and middle-grade readers, Gantos has been the proverbial bridesmaid, winning a Newbery Honor, a Printz Honor and a finalist designation for the National Book Award. The Newbery Medal is his first.
Whaley and Gantos were among the recipients of the association's 2012 Youth Media Awards given to authors and illustrators of books, audio books and videos for children and young adults in 20 different categories. Writer and illustrator Chris Raschka won the Randolph Caldecott Medal for "A Ball for Daisy," the most distinguished picture book for children. Susan Cooper, author of the Newbery Medal winner "The Dark Is Rising" and Newbery Honor-winning "The Grey King," among other novels, won the 2012 Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults. The Theodor Geisel Award for most distinguished beginning reader book went to "Tales for Very Picky Eaters," written and illustrated by Josh Schneider.
Kadir Nelson, author and illustrator of "Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans," won the Coretta Scott King Book award recognizing African American authors. Shane W. Evans, illustrator and author of "Underground: Finding the Light to Freedom," won the Coretta Scott King Award for illustration. Duncan Tonatiuh won the Pura Belpre Award honoring a Latino illustrator for "Diego Rivera: His World and Ours"; Guadalupe Garcia McCall won the Belpre author award for "Under the Mesquite."
"The Running Dream," written by Wendelin Van Draanen, won the Schneider Family Book Award for best teen book embodying an artistic expression of the disability experience. "Close to Famous," by Joan Bauer, and Brian Selznick's "Wonderstruck: A Novel in Words and Pictures" won the Schneider Award for middle-school readers. "Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy," by Bil Wright, won the Stonewall Book Award for exceptional merit relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender experience.
"One of the fundamental roles of librarians is "empowering parents and caregivers with youth-friendly materials that will encourage children and teens to read," ALA President Molly Raphael said at the beginning of the awards announcements in Dallas. "I hope to find today's titles in school libraries which desperately need our support."