Originally planned for Indianapolis, the American Library Association hosted their Mid-Winter conference online, as had been done with the Annual conference last Summer. What was unchanged from previous years was that the ALA Youth Media Awards were once again livestreamed online, as many librarians host early-morning watch parties across the country.

Normally, I would be in a ballroom packed full of librarians, publishers, and bibliophiles, cheering on the winners and taking lots of notes. This year, I watched it online, posted to Facebook, and checked each winner on Amazon to see if books that looked like graphic novels were actually comics. (It’s a big peeve of mine when I see a cartoony cover on a book, flip it open, and it’s a boring everyday prose novel.)

While there were no Caldecott or Newbery wins by graphic novels, there were numerous graphic novels lauded by the ALA Youth Media Awards committees. When Stars are Scattered, written by Somali refugee Omar Mohamed and Victoria Jamieson who also illustrated the work, received two honors. The Schneider Family Book Award honors “an author or illustrator for a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences.” The book also received an Odyssey Award, “given to the producer of the best audiobook produced for children and/or young adults”. Yes, a graphic novel not only was adapted into an audiobook, with a full cast, but it won an award as one of the best! (Noelle Stevenson‘s Nimona received a similar honor back in 2017.)

The winners were diverse this year. All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys’ Soccer Team was a rare non-fiction book to make the Newbery honor list. Over in the Stonewall Awards administered by the Rainbow Round Table, a board book titled We Are Little Feminists: Families won the award. (If you thought graphic novels had gotten little notice, board books are marginalized even moreso.)
Here are all the graphic novels among the many ALA Youth Media Award winners, in order of presentation:

Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature

The committee selected one Youth Literature honor title: Displacement, written by Kiku Hughes and published by First Second, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group.

The Sydney Taylor Book Award

The Sydney Taylor Book Award is presented annually to outstanding books for children and teens that authentically portray the Jewish experience.
This year’s Gold Medalists include […] in the Young Adult category, Dancing at the Pity Party by Tyler Feder, published by Dial Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers Group, a division of Penguin Random House.

Schneider Family Book Award

This Award is presented to “books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience.” When Stars Are Scattered, written by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed, illustrated by Victoria Jamieson, color by Iman Geddy and published by Dial Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers, a division of Penguin Random House LLC., was selected as an honor book for middle grades.

Stonewall Book Awards – Mike Morgan and Larry Romans Children’s and Young Adult Award

Beetle & The Hollowbones, illustrated and written by Aliza Layne and published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division was selected as an honor book.

Alex Awards

Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio, by Derf Backderf, published by Abrams Comicarts, and Solutions and Other Problems, by Allie Brosh, published by Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, were selected among the 10 best adult books that appeal to teen audiences.

Odyssey Award

When Stars Are Scattered, produced by Kelly Gildea & Julie Wilson for Listening Library, an imprint of Penguin Random House Audio, written by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed and narrated by Faysal Ahmed, Barkhad Abdi and a full cast, was selected as an honor audiobook produced for children and/or young adults, available in English in the United States.

Michael L. Printz Award

Dragon Hoops, created by Gene Luen Yang, color by Lark Pien and published by First Second Books, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group was one of four honor books named. Yang previously won the Printz Award in 2007 for American Born Chinese.

Pura Belpré Awards

¡Vamos! Let’s Go Eat, illustrated and written by Raúl Gonzalez, with colors by Elaine Bay, is the Belpré Illustrator Award winner. The book was published by Versify, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Mildred L. Batchelder Award

Catherine’s War, published by HarperAlley, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, written by Julia Billet, illustrated by Claire Fauvel and translated from French by Ivanka Hahnenberger, was selected as an honor title as an outstanding children’s book originally published in a language other than English in a country other than the United States, and subsequently translated into English for publication in the United States. The French edition has received many awards.
In addition, two Geisel award winners for distinguished beginner book, What About Worms and Where’s Baby, used word balloons as storytelling techniques. Is it comics? You decide.
The important thing to remember: libraries have limited budgets, so they shelve the best titles they can find to meet the needs of their patrons. Libraries with very limited budgets…they acquire award-winning titles to offer a diverse selection of titles, like these titles mentioned above. Chances are there’s a library near you, with a good selection of graphic novels, comics strip collections, and even DVDs of your favorite characters, ready to be borrowed! (And if that library notices that comics are popular, they’ll order more to meet demand!)

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