2012 Children’s Book Award Winners

By on March 2, 2013

At an annual event in late January, not unlike a literary version of the Oscars, the American Library Association grants awards to authors and illustrators of the best books in literature for children and young adults. These medals for excellence highlight outstanding books, now and into the future, extending awareness and accessibility to youngsters and their families in both paper and digital formats. On these pages are listed the distinguished choices from among the many wonderful books published in 2012. Read on!!

by Meribeth C. Shank 

John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature:

The One and Only Ivan written by Katherine Applegate, illustrated by Patricia Castelao. Ages 8–12

This bittersweet tale is told in the voice of an artistic gorilla, who lives in a mall with an elephant and a stray dog. Ivan’s life changes when a baby elephant named Ruby joins the animals in the mall, inspiring him to act on her behalf. Based on a true account of a mall gorilla, who after being moved to an Atlanta zoo, acquired fame and new friends and family. HarperCollins, $16.99


Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children:

This is Not My Hat illustrated and written by Jon Klassen. Ages 4–8

The story of a hat, a small fish (the robber) and a big fish (the rob-bee/hunter) is a darkly witty tale with minimalist art and text. While the text follows the thief, who sadly miscalculates the big fish’s abilities and interest, the art traces the hunter, making for an interesting contrast. Candlewick Press, $15.99

Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award recognizing an African American author of outstanding books for children and young adults:

Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America written by Andrea Davis Pinkney, illustrated by Brian Pinkney. Ages 10–15.

Benjamin Banneker, Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. DuBois, A. Philip Randolph, Thurgood Marshall, Jackie Robinson, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Barack Obama are the compelling subjects of this collective biography. An individual portrait of each man serves as an impressive opening for each chapter, a celebration of the lives of these memorable personalities. (Includes timeline, index, and lists of recommended reading and viewing.) Disney/Jump at the Sun Books, $19.99

Coretta Scott King (Illustrator) Book Award recognizing an African American illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults:

I, Too, Am America illustrated by Bryan Collier, written by Langston Hughes. Ages 8+.

Written in 1925, Hughes’ poem is visualized through the experiences of Pullman porters, and concludes with the figure of a young boy and his mother on a subway. The latter is a promising image to accompany the poem’s hopeful conclusion, while the porters offer new meaning and context to the brief poem. The eloquence of Collier’s trademark mixed media collages, supplies bold visuals to embody Hughes’ beautiful language. Simon & Schuster, $16.99

Schneider Family Book Award for books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience:
Awarded for ages 0–10:

Back to Front and Upside Down! written and illustrated by Claire Alexander. Ages 4–7.

Puppy Stan is excited about making a birthday card for the principal of his school, until the class is told their cards must also include words. His unproductive efforts are discouraging until his friend, Jack, advises him to ask for help. Compassionate assistance, plus others who also need help in the animal classroom, provide a sense of success. Delightful illustrations. Eerdmans Books, $16.00

Awarded for ages 11–13:

A Dog Called Homeless written by Sarah Lean. Ages 8–12.

Cally thinks she sees her mother, who has been dead for over a year, accompanied by a stray dog that later shows up with a homeless man. This compelling British novel is nuanced by the relationship she develops with Sam, a blind, almost deaf boy, in a neighboring apartment in the new building, to which Cally and her dad move. And by Cally’s decision to voluntarily take a vow of silence, to help raise money for children’s hospice, as part of a project in her fifth grade classroom. This story of loss, bewilderment and healing through unexpected experiences, is gently told. Katherine Tegen Books, $16.99

Pura Belpré (Illustrator) Award honoring a Latino illustrator whose children’s book best portrays, affirms and celebrates the Latino cultural experience:

Martín de Porres: The Rose in the Desert illustrated by David Diaz, written by Gary D. Schmidt. Ages 6–9.

Born into poverty as the illegitimate son of a former slave and a Spanish nobleman, this humble Peruvian man becomes a healer in a Dominican monastery and later, the first black saint of the Americas. Luminous illustrations accompany lyrical text. Clarion Books, $16.99


Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award for most distinguished informational book for children:

Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon written by Steve Sheinkin.  Ages 10+.

 A true spy thriller, this carefully-paced nonfiction tale, using well-placed archival photos and told in three parts, covers American efforts to build the bomb, Soviet struggles to steal American designs, and attempts by America to keep Germans from building a bomb. (Includes source notes, quotation notes, acknowledgments, photo credits, and index.) Flash Point, $19.99

Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for the most distinguished beginning reader book:

Up, Tall and High! written and illustrated by Ethan Long. Ages 3–6.

In three short humorous stories this lift-the-flap book uses speech balloons, simple vocabulary, and bright cartoon style birds – outlined in black – to convey the meaning of opposing directions, engaging the youngest readers and even early listeners. G. P. Putnam’s Sons, $15.99




More lengthy reviews (from School Library Journal, Kirkus Reviews, Voya, Publisher’s Weekly, NY Times Book Review, Children’s Literature, Horn Book, Shelf Awareness, and Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books) are available on the Barnes & Noble website (http://www.barnesandnoble.com) associated with each of the titles included above.

Meribeth Shank works in the Media Center at Miami Country Day School, an independent school in Miami Shores, Florida, teaches classes on Writing Books for Children, and earned her MFA in Writing for children from Vermont College.  You can also find her on the web: http://meribeths.blogspot.com

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