Newbery! Caldecott! Librarians Honor Graphic Novels including El Deafo and This One Summer

The American Library Association announced their 2015 youth media award winners at its Midwinter Meeting in Chicago.

Covering a diverse range of titles and readers, graphic novels were among the honorees!  First…  The big news…

9781419712173El Deafo, Cece Bell’s memoir of her hearing loss and fitting in at grade school was selected as a Newbery Honor Book, as an outstanding contribution to children’s literature!

While already a bestseller, with long autograph lines this weekend at the conference, this honor will encourage more libraries, especially school libraries, to shelve and promote this title, a great book which just happens to be a graphic memoir!

Then there’s the Caldecott Medal, for most distinguished American picture book.  This is another “instant bestseller”, generating instant sales among libraries and bookstores.  This year’s winner was Dan Santat, for “The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend”, which is a regular picture book.  But…  Santat has also written a graphic novel, titled “Sidekicks”, and his picture books are geeky and fun, so I’m claiming him!

Also… there were SIX honor books announced.  One of which was…  “This One Summer“, illustrated by Jillian Tamaki, written by Mariko Tamaki.  Yes… it’s awarded to the illustrator, but many times, the story is essential for a title rising among the many amazing books being published today.

Don’t feel sory for Mariko… she received a Printz Honor for excellence in literature written for young adults!  This is the Newberry for YA literature, with a similar explosion in sales expected!  (Graphicologists will recall that Gene Luen Yang won the award for American Born Chinese in 2007.)

What… you want more?  Okay…  How about an outstanding children’s book translated from a foreign language?

The Mildred L. Batchelder Award honored “Hidden: A Child’s Story of the Holocaust“, published by First Second.  Written in French by Loic Dauvillier, illustrated by Marc Lizano, color by Greg Salsedo, and translated by Alexis Siegel, it chronicles a young Jewish girl in 1942 Paris.  I confess… I overlooked this title last Spring. (Hey… they have an amazing list, and there’s lots of great stuff from other publishers too!)  Here’s a friendly reminder, and an enjoyable one at that!

9780525426813MOne more title of note…  YALSA (the Young Adult Library Services Association) gave an award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults.  This year’s winner:

Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek by Maya Van Wagenen

If you’d like to know more about these and many other winners (many in multiple categories), visit the Youth Media Awards website! You can read our 2014 coverage here.

Me, I’m off to discover more great titles, and to help librarians use graphic novels to encourage literacy and a life-long-love of reading!


  1. Kat Kan says

    I’ve been working towards this for more than 30 years of advocating for comics in libraries and schools. Of course it happens when I can’t attend the conference! But seriously, I’m incredibly jazzed and happy about these books. All of these awards – the Caldecott, the Printz, the Batchelder – are LITERARY awards. This just continues to validate graphic novels and their place in literature – and in libraries and classrooms!

  2. John Shableski says

    This is fantastic news and solid proof that the traditional publishing market is making great strides. The awards juries are now peopled with professionals who no longer define great literature as a text only world. There continues to be a steady increased number of great graphic novels published each year providing the juries with an ever greater number of excellent choices. The long tail of these developments means graphic novels/comics are showing up in classrooms for reading assignments, the distribution companies and library wholesalers now have an educated and informed approach to selling graphic novels/comics. All of this really did begin with the librarians. Kat Kan, Francisca Goldsmith, Steve Wiener, Steve Ratieri, Robin Brenner, Michele Gorman, Eva Volin, Mike Pawuk…(and god knows, I’ve missed a few!) are the librarians where so much of this began. A big thanks also goes out to the creators/authors who keep cranking out the stories. Your great books continue to feed the momentum!
    Congrats to the ALA Winning Class of 2014/ 2015!

  3. Torsten Adair says

    Even “The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus”, which was a Caldecott honor book and won the Sibert for best informational book, had comics elements inside (word balloons in crowd scenes).

    Synchronicity happened when I was perusing the Roget book at the publisher’s booth… two Caldecott jurists stopped by, and I was able to avoid the confidentiality concerns with a few questions. The biggest question: How do they discover the books? Simple answer: publishers send them boxes of titles, even titles which don’t qualify. Of course, these librarians are passionate about their books (Thanks, Robin, for your work on Printz!). You have to be…. they are sequestered for three days in a hotel meeting room deliberating, debating, advocating.

    Yes, SIX honor books. It was just that spectacular a year in picture books.
    What does the future hold? Comic book kids are attending art school, and getting inspiration from the other fine arts kids. How will that influence comics ten years from now? Picture books? Will we care? (Me, I view Tuesday and Black and White and Mr. Wuffles as comics. The camel’s nose is already inside the tent.)

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