Two things stand out about books that are awarded the Caldecott or Newbery Medal by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association.

One is the illustrations, said Mary J. Mollner, a storyteller and youth services librarian at the W. Dale Clark Library.

“What makes them special, what these committees are choosing, are stunning illustrations that capture children’s eyes,’’ she said. “They could be completely intricate or just different.’’

The second is quality writing.

“It could be three words,’’ Mollner said. “The composition is really thoughtful.’’

Each Caldecott winner carries a sticker that makes it easy to spot on shelves. The library carries every book to earn the award.

That gold sticker comes with a message: “What it says is ‘this is really great,’ ’’ Mollner said.

The 2019 Newbery Medal winners

Winner:

• “Merci Suárez Changes Gears” by Meg Medina. Using humor and grace, the charming and plucky Merci cycles through life’s challenges with the support of her intergenerational family. This richly nuanced novel tackles the complexity of navigating a multicultural identity amidst changing family dynamics.

Honor Books: 

• “The Night Diary” by Veera Hiranandani. The story of Nisha and her family as they flee their homeland for an uncertain future. The author illuminates the 1947 partition of India with balance and sensitivity. Through the diary entries addressed to her late mother, Nisha discovers the complex beauty of her Hindu-Muslim identity.

• “The Book of Boy” by Catherine Gilbert Murdock and illustrated by Ian Schoenherr. A young outcast is swept up into a thrilling and perilous medieval treasure hunt. From Murdock’s first line, readers are taken on an epic quest across Europe in 1350 with Boy and a mysterious pilgrim, adventuring to recover seven relics of St. Peter. Layered characters from goats to nuns, lyrical language and multiple reveals combine to create a powerful story of redemption.

The 2019 Caldecott Winners

Winner: 

• “Hello Lighthouse” written and illustrated by Sophie Blackall. On the highest rock of a tiny island at the edge of the world stands a lighthouse. From dusk to dawn, the lighthouse beams, sending its light out to sea, guiding the ships on their way. As the seasons pass and the waves rise and fall, outside, the wind blows; inside, the lighthouse keeper writes, and the rhythms of his life unfold. But change is on the horizon. This is Blackall’s second winner; the first came for “Finding Winnie” in 2016.

Honor Books:

• “Alma and How She Got Her Name” written and illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal. How did such a small person as Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela wind up with such a large name? Alma turns to Daddy for an answer and learns of Sofia, the grandmother who loved books and flowers; Esperanza, the great-grandmother who longed to travel; José, the grandfather who was an artist; and other namesakes, too. As she hears the story of her name, Alma starts to think it might be a perfect fit after all.

• “The Rough Patch” written and illustrated by Brian Lies. Evan, a fox, and his beloved black-and-white dog are always together. They drive in Evan’s red farm truck and play games. But what they loved the most was working in Evan’s magnificent garden, a lush, fertile enclosure studded with neat trellises. Then, two terrible things happen: Evan’s dog dies — readers see the fox slumped over the hound’s body — and in his grief, Evan destroys his garden. The story of how Evan finds his way through his grief.

• “A Big Mooncake for Little Star” written and illustrated by Grace Lin. Little Star loves the delicious Mooncake that she bakes with her mama. But she’s not supposed to eat any yet! What happens when she can’t resist a nibble? In this stunning picture book, Newbery Honor author Lin creates a heartwarming original story that explains phases of the moon.

• “Thank You, Omu!” written and illustrated by Oge Mora. Everyone in the neighborhood dreams of a taste of Omu’s delicious stew. One by one, they follow their noses toward the scrumptious scent. Soon the pot is empty. Has she been so generous that she has nothing left for herself? The book was inspired by the strong female role models in Mora’s life.

***

This article originally appeared in the April 2019 issue of the Momaha Magazine.

Marjie is a writer for The World-Herald’s special sections and specialty publications, including Inspired Living Omaha, Wedding Essentials and Momaha Magazine. Follow her on Twitter @mduceyOWH. Phone: 402-444-1034.

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