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The Newbery and Caldecott medals honor children’s literature each year—in writing and illustration, respectively. This year the Newbery Medal was awarded to Kelly Barnhill for “The Girl Who Drank the Moon.” The Caldecott Medal went to Javaka Steptoe, who ILLUSTRATED and wrote “Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat.”

“The Girl Who Drank the Moon” is a fantasy novel that tackles the subjects of love, sacrifice and magic. This is Barnhill’s fourth novel for young people. Her other books are “The Mostly True Story of Jack,” “Iron Hearted Violet” and “The Witch’s Boy.” The Minnesota author started out writing non-fiction books for middle school readers.

In “Radiant Child,” Steptoe uses elements of the artist’s style (bright colors, found objects) to tell the story of Basquiat’s life and art. This makes the artist accessible to a young audience, according to Caldecott Medal Committee Chair Rhonda K. Gould.

The Newberry and Caldecott are awarded by the Association of Library Service to Children, part of the American Library Association. Newbery and Caldecott winning books often have the medal or honor stamped on their covers.

The Newbery Medal is named for John Newbery, who published kids books in the 18th century. It goes to the author who makes the most distinguished contribution to American literature for young readers. It was first awarded in 1922. The Caldecott Medal, named for illustrator Randolph Caldecott, goes to the illustrator who creates “the most distinguished picture book for children.” This award started in 1938.

Christian Robinson, one of last year’s Caldecott Honor winners, and Newbery Honorees Shannon Hale and Grace Lin are just a few of the award-winning authors and illustrators you could meet at this year’s Tucson Festival of Books happening March 11–12 at the University of Arizona.

February 2017