The Astonishing Achievements of M.T. Anderson, Recipient of the 2019 Margaret A. Edwards Award

A tribute to M.T. Anderson, who received the 2019 Margaret A. Edwards Award, which honors a “significant and lasting” contribution to young adult literature.

Photo by Josh Kuckens

In the children’s and YA book world, award season, capped by the American Library Association Youth Media Awards (YMAs), is a whirlwind of activity, celebrating literature and recognizing the best of the best for young people. For the past 31 years, School Library Journal has worked in tandem with the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) to sponsor one such initiative—the Margaret A. Edwards Award (MAE)—which is unique in its scope and criteria. It honors an author as well as specific titles that have stood the test of time and made a “significant and lasting” contribution to young adult literature. In so doing, the award recognizes an author’s work in providing young adults with “a window through which they can view their world and which help them to grow and to understand themselves and their role in society.”

In selecting M.T. Anderson as the 2019 Margaret Edwards Award recipient, this year’s MAE committee cited Feed; The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume I: The Pox Party ; and Volume II: The Kingdom on the Waves (all published by Candlewick Press) as such powerful titles.

According to committee member Michael Cart, Anderson’s “innovation and artful idiosyncrasy, which together expand the parameters of young adult literature, challenge his readers, and demonstrate extraordinary versatility and inventiveness in the form and content of his work.”

Rebecca Denham, this year’s MAE chair, summed up the committee’s choice: “M.T. Anderson’s work does not flinch from difficult subjects but instead presents them with a combination of elegant text and stark reality that illustrate a respect for the maturity of teen readers and has guaranteed him a place in the annals of young adult literature.”

Huzzah, Tobin! With an appreciative nod to artful idiosyncrasy, please scroll down for a graphic-style profile of Anderson by Steve Sheinkin.—Luann Toth




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