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And The Awards Are In!

unwantedThough it’s been years since I’ve been able to take the time away from my family and my work to attend a conference, January has always been an exciting time of year in the book world. Monday of ALA’s annual midwinter conference is dedicated to the Youth Media Awards. In addition to the many well-known honors, such as the Newbery, Caldecott, and Printz Medals, there are many other awards and selection lists that a tireless team of librarians work to compile. The work is exhaustive and exhilarating. Keeping up with the review copies and the non-stop reading is intense.

When I first started as a librarian, graphic novels were barely worth a mention in the world of Awards Winners. But that all changed in 2007 when Gene Luen Yang was awarded the Printz for American Born Chinese. Since then, it’s not unusual to see a comic in the limelight. So, I’m always interested to pick through the lists and awards to see which comics were mentioned.

No graphic novels picked up the well-known top honors, like the Newbery or Caldecott, but you can find graphic novel titles sprinkled throughout the lists of honors.

The Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian Refugees written and illustrated by Don Brown and published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt was noted a few times: It was cited as a Robert F. Sibert Informational Honor Book as well as a YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfictin for Young Adults.

Hey KiddoHey, Kiddo: How I Lost My Mother, Found My Father, and Dealt with Family Addiction written and illustrated by Jarrett J. Krosoczka and published by Graphix, an imprint of Scholastic was listed as a finalist for the YALSA’s Award for Excellence in Nonfiction.

Check, Please!: #Hockey written and illustrated by Ngozi Ukazu, published by First Second, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group was listed as a finalist for the Morris Award, which is given to a first time author.

My Beijing: Four Stories of Everyday Wonder, published by Graphic Universe, a division of Lerner Publishing Group, Inc., written and illustrated by Nie Jun, and translated by Edward Gauvin was listed as Mildred L. Batchelder honor. This awards is given for books translated into English that were first published abroad.

Tiger vs. Nightmare, written and illustrated by Emily Tetri, published by First Second was given a Theodor Seuss Geisel honor, which is awarded to distinguished books for beginning readers.

There are many Best of lists released now…. while the 2019 Great Graphic Novels for Teens is all about comics, many other lists will include graphic novels.

Best Fiction for Young Adults
Oddly, I didn’t see any comics on this list. Did I miss something?

2019 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults
illegalIllegal by Eion Colfer and Andrew Donkin, read by a Full Cast. Dreamscape Media, 2018. 1 hour, 10 minutes. 978-1-9749-2461-0.
(Note: I’m an avid audio book listener. I use my 20-minute commute each way to listen to books. And often continue as I fold laundry or busy myself with other mundane household chores. But a graphic novel as an audio book still makes me muse and a graphic novel audio book making a best of list…Wows me!)

2019 Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers

Anderson, Laurie Halse and Emily Carroll (Illustrator). Speak: The Graphic Novel. Macmillan/ Farrar, Straus and Giroux Books for Young Readers.

Fence Volume 1Chmakova, Svetlana. Crush (Berrybrook Middle School). Yen Press/ JY for Kids.

Colfer, Eoin, Andrew Donkin, and Giovanni Rigano (Illustrator). Illegal. Sourcebooks/ Sourcebooks Jabberwocky.

Krosoczka, Jarrett. Hey Kiddo: How I Lost My Mother, Found My Father, and Dealt with Family Addiction. Scholastic Press/ Graphix.

Pacat, C.S. and Johanna the Mad (Illustrator) Fence, Vol. 1. Boom Entertainment

Pak, Greg and Takeshi Miyazawa (Illustrator). Mech Cadet Yu, vols. 1 and 2. Boom Entertainment/ BOOM! Studios.

Ukazu, Ngozi. Check Please! Book 1: #Hockey. Macmillan/ Roaring Brook Press/ First Second.

Wang, Jen. The Prince and the Dressmaker. Macmillan/ Roaring Brook Press/ First Second.

ALSC’S Children’s Notable list was not released yet… But hopefully a few graphic novel titles will show up.

Esther Keller About Esther Keller

Esther Keller is the librarian at JHS 278, Marine Park in Brooklyn, NY. There she started the library's first graphic novel collection and strongly advocated for using comics in the classroom. Her collection is also the model for all middle school libraries in NYC. She started her career at the Brooklyn Public Library, and later jumped ship to the school system so she could have summer vacation and a job that would align with a growing family's schedule. On the side, she is a mother of 4 and regularly reviews for SLJ and School Library Connection (formerly LMC). In her past life, she served on the Great Graphic Novels for Teens Committee where she solidified her love and dedication to comics.


  1. The Faithful Spy was also listed as a YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction finalist.

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