Top Awards Given Out for Young Adult and Children’s Literature
The King Author Award, which recognizes outstanding books by African-American authors and illustrators, went to Renée Watson’s “Piecing Me Together,” a novel about an African-American teenage girl named Jade who feels out of place as a scholarship student at a mostly white private high school in Portland, Ore.
Last year, “March,” a graphic memoir about the civil rights movement that was co-written by Representative John Lewis, swept the awards, winning four prizes from the American Library Association.
At a moment when the children’s book industry seems focused on issue-driven books that grapple with race, politics and gender, this year’s batch of winners also included some unexpected, quieter books and sleeper hits. “Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut,” a picture book that celebrates the experiences of African-American boys at the barbershop, which was illustrated by Gordon C. James and written by Derrick Barnes, drew citations in several categories, and received Caldecott and Newbery honors.
There were some big names among this year’s winners, if not in the major categories. Jacqueline Woodson, author of “Brown Girl Dreaming,” received the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, which honors an author or illustrator whose books have made “a lasting contribution to literature for children.”
Jason Reynolds’s young adult novel “ Long Way Down,” about a 15-year-old boy who is deciding whether or not to avenge his brother’s murder, received multiple citations from the association, including a Printz Honor, a Newbery Honor, an Odyssey honor for outstanding audiobook and a King Author honor.
Angie Thomas’s “The Hate U Give,” a best-selling young adult novel that addresses police violence against young African-Americans, received the William C. Morris Award for a debut book for teenagers, as well as the Odyssey Award for best audiobook, a King Author honor and a Printz honor.
Reacting to the news on Twitter, Ms. Thomas seemed to be at a loss for words: She posted a series of crying emojis.