Renée Watson, author of Piecing Me Together, and Ekua Holmes, illustrator of Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets, are the winners of the 2018 Coretta Scott King Book Awards honoring African American authors and illustrators of outstanding books for children and young adults. David Barclay Moore, author of The Stars Beneath Our Feet, and Charly Palmer, illustrator of Mama Africa! How Miriam Makeba Spread Hope with Her Song, are the winners of the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent. The awards were announced at the American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Meeting & Exhibits, held Feb. 9-13, 2018, in Denver, Colorado, and presented in New Orleans at the ALA Annual Conference & Exhibition in June.
The Coretta Scott King Book Awards are presented annually by the Coretta Scott King Book Awards Committee of the ALAs Ethnic and Multicultural Information Exchange Round Table (EMIERT) to encourage the artistic expression of the African American experience via literature and the graphic arts; to promote an understanding and appreciation of the Black culture and experience, and to commemorate the life and legacy of Mrs. Coretta Scott King for her courage and determination in supporting the work of her husband, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., for peace and world brotherhood.
In Piecing Me Together, published by Bloomsbury, Jade is a likable protagonist who is easy to root for. There are many stories that shape who we are as people and Jade helps others express their feelings and thoughts about the world around them. Watson provides a multi-layered, yet necessary look at Black womanhood.
Renée Watson is an author, educator, and activist from Portland, Oregon, who now lives in New York City. Watson has taught creative writing and theater in public schools and community centers throughout the U.S. for over twenty years. She often focuses on the lived experiences of Black girls and women.
Watson brings us a coming-of-age tale that eloquently explores the many facets of Jade, a brilliant and creative teen on the brink of young adulthood, said Coretta Scott King Book Awards Jury Chair Sam Bloom.
In Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets, written by Kwame Alexander with Chris Colderley and Marjory Wentworth and published by Candlewick Press, Ekua Holmes’s mixed-media collage images balance the tone and tenor of the new poems created by the authors, while paying homage to each of the featured poets in the subtle details extracted from various aspects.
“Holmes expertly infuses the multilayered poetry with the richness of the Black art aesthetic in her original, evocative, vibrantly colored compositions,” said Coretta Scott King Book Awards Jury Chair Sam Bloom.
Ekua Holmes is a native and current resident of Boston, Massachusetts, who has worked as an artist, curator, and active member of Bostons art community. She was influenced by the need to fill the void of what she perceived as an absence of positive Black images in her childhood neighborhoods.
The Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent affirms new talent and offers visibility for excellence in writing and/or illustration at the beginning of a career as a published African American creator of children’s books. This years winners are author David Barclay Moore for The Stars Beneath Our Feet, published by Alfred A. Knopf, and illustrator Charly Palmer for Mama Africa! How Miriam Makeba Spread Hope with Her Song, published by Farrar Straus Giroux.
The Stars Beneath Our Feet provides a realistic lens on the Black American experience and infuses it with heart, soul, and imagination. Moore plays with language, culture, stereotypes, and reality to create an engaging book that will resonate with youth in urban communities everywhere searching for positive survival techniques.
Mama Africa! How Miriam Makeba Spread Hope with Her Song visually tells the story of the singers career through the use of vibrant, colorful illustrations that juxtapose her rise in fame in comparison to the South African peoples civil rights struggle with apartheid. Palmers bold illustrations expertly complement the text in a riveting duet.
Three King Author Honor Books were selected:
Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut by Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Gordon C. James, and published by Bolden, an Agate Imprint, a Denene Millner Book.
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds, published by Atheneum, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Childrens Publishing Division, a Caitlyn Dlouhy Book.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, published by Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
Two King Illustrator Honor Books were selected:
Crown: an Ode to the Fresh Cut, illustrated by Gordon C. James, written by Derrick Barnes,and published by Bolden, an Agate Imprint, a Denene Millner Book.
Before She Was Harriet:The Story of Harriet Tubman, illustrated by James E. Ransome, written by Lesa Cline-Ransome, and published by Holiday House.
For information on the Coretta Scott King Book Awards and other ALA Youth Media Awards, please visit www.ala.org/yma.