Graphic Novels Take Newbery, Caldecott, and Printz Honors for 2015

2015 Newbery Caldecott
This One Summer © First Second, 2014. El Deafo © ABRAMS, 2014.

On Monday, the American Library Association announced all the award winning books for children and teens at its annual midwinter conference. The awards include everything from the Coretta Scott King award for African American authors and illustrators making outstanding books for children to the Sibert award for outstanding nonfiction.

But the biggest are always the John Newbery Medal for “outstanding contribution to children’s literature,” the Randolph Caldecott Medal for “the most distinguished American picture book for children,” and the Michael L. Printz Award for “excellence in literature written for young adults.”

This year, there were two Newbery Honor Books, four Printz Honors, and six Caldecott Honor books in addition to the medalists. In each category, a graphic novel took an honor. One book took two.

It was a great year for diversity in the Newbery category. The Newbery Medal went to The Crossover by Kwame Alexander, a novel in verse about twin basketball-playing brothers. That book also took a Coretta Scott King Honor, given to African American authors and illustrators for outstanding children’s books. The two Newbery Honor books were the astounding Jacqueline Woodson’s memoir Brown Girl Dreaming (the Coretta Scott King winner) and El Deafo by Cece Bell.

El Deafo is Bell’s memoir, a graphic novel about her childhood experiences with hearing loss and an awkward, oversized hearing aid.

This One Summer by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki, a YA graphic novel, took a Printz Honor and a Caldecott Honor. This is the first year ever that a book for teens has gotten a Caldecott award, typically reserved for picture books (with rare glorious exceptions like The Invention of Hugo Cabret)And to get an Honor in both categories is a pretty raving testimonial to this book.

The Caldecott Medalist is the delightful The Adventures of Beekle: An Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat. I adore Santat’s work as an illustrator, but he’s no slouch as a writer, either. This is his third book as author and illustrator, and if you haven’t read his first two—Oh No! Or How My Science Project Destroyed the World and Oh No! Not Again! (Or How I Built a Time Machine to Save History) (Or at Least My History Grade)you really should. Plucky, adventurous girl saves the day, so much win all around.

The other five Caldecott Honor books are:

Yup, books about Frida Kahlo, Vasily Kandinsky, and Peter Mark Roget all won picture book awards this year. It was that kind of glorious, unusual, genius year.

Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You the Sun took the Printz Medal this year. This is another story of twins, told in two halves. Noah tells the story of his early years with twin sister Jude, and Jude tells the second half of the story, the teen years, when the siblings have drifted apart.

The other Printz Honor books are And We Stay by Jenny Hubbard, The Carnival at Bray by Jessie Ann Foley, and Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith.

The complete list of Youth Media Awards winners can be found here.

Jackie Reeve is a Core Contributor and former Senior Editor at GeekMom. She's a librarian, a writer, and a quilt designer. She's wife to an Englishman and mom to a little geek girl, and she blogs about life and crafts at The Orange Room. Jackie's obsessed with cardigans and thinks Die Hard is the best Christmas movie there is.