"When You Trap a Tiger" Wins Newbery, "We Are Water Protectors" Earns Caldecott at 2021 YMAs

Tae Keller and Michaela Goade win prestigious Newbery and Caldecott medals, respectively, while Daniel Nayeri takes the Printz Award for Everything Sad is Untrue (a true story) on a day when women dominated, sweeping the Newbery and Caldecott awards.

There was no cheering crowd, but the pandemic couldn’t stop children’s literature’s biggest day, even as it upended the publishing world over the last year. 

The Caldecott Medal went to We Are Water Protectors illustrated by Michaela Goade, who made history becoming the first BIPOC woman and first Indigenous illustrator to win the prestigious award. When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller won the Newbery Medal, and, rounding out the big three, was Everything Sad is Untrue (a true story) by Daniel Nayeri, which won the Printz Award. The winners were announced during a virtual ceremony for the 2021 Youth Media Awards.

Keller also won the Asian Pacific American Librarians Association (APALA) Children's Literature Award for When You Trap a Tiger.

It was a huge day for women creators, who swept the Newbery and Caldecott medals.

Author Christina Soontornvat had two books among the five Newbery honors with All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys’ Soccer Team and A Wish in the Dark. All Thirteen also was named a Robert F. Sibert Medal honor title and was a finalist for the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults.

Author Candace Fleming won two awards for two different titles, earning the Sibert  for Honeybee and the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults for The Rise and Fall of Charles Lindbergh. 

READ: SLJ Reviews of the 2021 Youth Media Awards

Graphic novels continued to stake their claim as a force to be reckoned as Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang was a Printz Honor title, Dancing at the Pity Party by Tyler Feder won the Sydney Taylor Book Award in the YA category, and When Stars Are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed received two honors. Beetle and the Hollowbones was also among the graphic novels recognized, as it earned a Stonewall honor title.

Kacen Callendar's King and the Dragonflies also had a good day as an honor title for the Coretta Scott King Author Award and the Stonewall Award.

This was the first year the Pura Belpré committee included a young adult category. The inaugural winner was Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez. ¡Vamos! Let’s Go Eat by Raul Gonzalez won the Belpré Award for Illustraion, and Efrén Divided by Ernesto Cisneros won for text.

The Coretta Scott King Author Award went to Jacqueline Woodson for Before the Ever After, and Frank Morrison won the CSK Illustrator Award for R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul. Tracy Deonn received the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Author Award for Legendborn.

Read the full list of YMA winners and honorees from the American Library Association press release below.

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Kara Yorio

Kara Yorio (kyorio@mediasourceinc.com, @karayorio) is news editor at School Library Journal.

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