Kids’ book authors honored: Meg Medina wins Newbery medal, Sophie Blackall the Caldecott

NEW YORK – Meg Medina, the latest recipient of the John Newbery Medal, wrote her prize-winning children’s book with a special intensity.

“There are so many negative characterizations these days of Latino families and what it is to be an immigrant,” said Medina, a Cuban-American author whose “Merci Suarez Changes Gears” tells of an 11-year-old’s struggles as she navigates between the worlds of her elite private school and her extended Latino family.

“This toxic conversation about immigration and who’s dangerous and who’s American absorbs us all. I feel this enormous pressure to provide a counternarrative.”

The Newbery medal is given for “outstanding contribution to children’s literature.” Sophie Blackall’s “Hello Lighthouse,” in which the natural world is seen through the eyes of a lighthouse keeper, received the Randolph Caldecott Medal for best picture book.

The awards, the year’s most anticipated in the children’s books community, were announced Monday by the American Library Association.

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