Tuesday, January 25, 2022


Caldecott Medal Winner
Newbery Honor Book
APALA Award Winner 

I'm so excited to share the news that Watercress, written by Andrea Wang and illustrated by Jason Chin, received three major book awards this week at the American Library Association 2022 Midwinter Meeting. Hopefully, you've heard of the Caldecott and Newbery Awards, but you may not be familiar with the APALA award from the Asian Pacific American Librarians Association. Its mission is to address the needs of Asian/Pacific American Librarians and the communities they serve.

In early summer of 2021, Andrea appeared on a panel with me, author Beth Anderson, and author/illustrator Dow Phumiruk. The topic was on Promoting Storytelling With Your Kids. The discussion and video are available on my blog with a link to the FREE PDF of the handout - Picture Books For Reminiscing. The handout includes questions for each of the picture books we discuss during the panel including Watercress. These questions may be used at home or in the classroom for any age group to stimulate discussing and writing about about personal experiences. The panel event was hosted by a local Denver bookstore, Second Star to the Right. If you are in the Denver area, check and see if they still have signed copies of Watercress available. I'm sure they are going fast!

I was not surprised that Watercress won the Caldecott given to "... the artist of the most distinguished American Picture Book for Children." Jason Chin's masterful watercolor illustrations are the perfect accompaniment to Andrea's story - an account of a personal childhood experience picking watercress from the side of the road with her Chinese immigrant parents. I was surprised and delighted, however, to learn that this quiet yet powerful picture book also won a Newbery Honor. Newbery books are typically for older students. Take for example, the recent Newbery Medal winner, The Last Cuentista, by Donna Barba Higuera. This novel for ages 10-14 is a bit more typical of the age range of books that usually win a Newbery. Read more about all of the 2022 Newbery and Caldecott Medal and Honor winners at ala.org 

What excites me most about Watercress winning a Newbery Honor, is that it demonstrates that narrative non-fiction picture books are not just for little kids. I have long been an advocate for promoting the use of picture books with older students. I hope that this award will encourage librarians and other educators to share Watercress, Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre (A Caldecott Honor Book), and other compelling and important picture book titles with older elementary school students and teens.

For specific tips on sharing these and other narrative non-fiction picture books with teens, see my article - Not Just for Little Kids: Five Reasons to Use Picture Books with Older Students over at Beth Anderson's blog. She was another author on the panel with Andrea Wang. Watch for Beth's new book, Revolutionary Prudence Wright: Leading the Minute Women in the Fight for Independence illustrated by Susan Reagan available February 1. Preorder now! Read the blog article by Sandy Brehl to learn more about the book.

The book giveaway on Beth's blog ended in November, but the tips are still invaluable. The winner of that giving away was Lillie Pardo, an intervention specialist teacher in California. Congratulations, Lillie!

To receive a free Fill-In-The-Blank Story Template sign up for my newsletter HERE.

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