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'The Last Cuentista' and 'Watercress' win top children's book awards

The Last Cuentista, by Donna Barba Higuera
‎Levine Querido

America's librarians awarded top honors to their favorite children's books of the year on Monday. The Newbery — celebrating its 100th year — and Caldecott medals, as well as several other honors, were among those awards.

The John Newbery Medal for the most distinguished children's book this year went to The Last Cuentista by Donna Barba Higuera. In the book, a girl named Petra must travel to another planet to carry on the human race after Earth has been destroyed.

The Randolph Caldecott Medal, which the American Library Association awards to the most distinguished American picture book for children, went to Watercress by Andrea Wang and illustrated by Jason Chin. It was also a Newbery honor book. The story focuses on a little girl who comes to learn about her heritage after her family stops the car by the side of a road to collect watercress.

Other Newbery honor books were Red, White and Whole; A Snake Falls to Earth; and Too Bright to See.

Other Caldecott honor books were: Have You Ever Seen A Flower; Mel Fell; Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre; and Wonder Walkers.

Watercress
/ Holiday House Publishing
/
Holiday House Publishing

ALA's Youth Media Awards include many other honors, such as the Coretta Scott King Award, which was given to Carole Boston Weatherford for Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre. Illustrator Floyd Cooper won the illustrator award for this book as well — and the book also won a Silber award. Nikki Grimes was honored with a Coretta Scott King lifetime achievement award.

Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo and Firekeepers Daughter by Angeline Boulley were among those winning multiple awards.

In 2021, the Newbery was awarded to When You Trap A Tiger by Tae Keller. The book's central character is a girl, Lily, whose family moves in with her dying grandmother and a tiger from Korean folklore shows up looking for something that was stolen.

Last year, the Caldecott Medal went to We Are Water Protectors illustrated by Michaela Goade and written by Carole Lindstrom. The book stresses the urgent need to take care of Earth's water.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Meghan Collins Sullivan is a senior editor on the Arts & Culture Desk, overseeing non-fiction books coverage at NPR. She has worked at NPR over the last 13 years in various capacities, including as the supervising editor for NPR.org – managing a team of online producers and reporters and editing multi-platform news coverage. She was also lead editor for the 13.7: Cosmos and Culture blog, written by five scientists on topics related to the intersection of science and culture.