Donna Barba Higuera Wins Newbery Medal for ‘The Last Cuentista’


Last CuentistaDonna Barba Higuera’s dystopian yet hopeful mid-range novel won one of the most prestigious awards in children’s literature on Monday, receiving this year’s John Newbery Medal.

In the book published by Levine Querido, 12-year-old Petra Peña and her family are among those who chose to flee Earth before Halley’s comet collided with the planet. They sleep for about 400 years, waking up with all but Petra’s memories erased.

In The New York Times Book Review, Tae Keller, who won the Newbery last year For “When You Trap a Tiger” Said “The Last Cuentista” “Brainwashing, ‘cleaning’ (murder, though always off-page), and yes, with the destruction of our entire planet, it certainly deviates into the dark end of medium fiction. But he doesn’t stay in the dark, choosing to give his readers healthy doses of hope, curiosity, and page-turning action.”

The Randolph Caldecott Medal, the highest award for an American picture book,watercress” illustrated by Jason Chin and written by Andrea Wang. Published by Neal Porter Books, the book is about a young Chinese-American girl living in a mostly white town in rural Ohio in the 1970s.

Reviewing the book for The Times, Jennifer Krauss wrote that the watercolor illustrations, drawing on both Chinese and Western techniques, combine “rigorous, heart-wrenching realism with dreamy panoramas.”

The Newbery and Caldecott awards are among the children’s literature awards and honors presented by the American Library Association in a virtual ceremony on Monday.

The most honorable bookUnspeakable: Tulsa Race MassacreWritten by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Floyd Cooper. Published by Carolrhoda Books, an imprint of the Lerner Publishing Group, the book won the Coretta Scott King illustrator and author awards given to African American writers and illustrators.

“Unspeakable” was a finalist for the Robert F. Sibert Informative Book Award, which went to “The People’s Painter: How Ben Shahn Fought Art for Justice,” written by Cynthia Levinson and illustrated by Evan Turk, alongside Caldecott.

Michael L. Printz Award for young adult literature “fireman’s daughterA debut novel written by Angeline Boulley and published by Henry Holt and Company. The book is being adapted for television on Netflix by Higher Ground, the production company of former Presidents Barack Obama and Michelle Obama.

The Stonewall Book Awards, which reward gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender-themed books, went to “Last Night at the Telegraph Club” and “Last Night at the Telegraph Club.”Invisible Bright

Malinda Lo’s “Last Night at the Telegraph Club” won an award in the young adult literature category. The book is also Won the National Book Award For children’s literature in 2021, it takes place in San Francisco’s Chinatown during the Red Scare and follows a queer 17-year-old.

Kyle Lukoff’s “Too Brilliant” won the first prize in the children’s literature category. A finalist for last year’s National Book Award, this is about 11-year-old “Bug” who is transgender.

The full list of winners and honorees can be found at: ALA.org/YMA.



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