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franklin county times

Reading Recommendations: Award-Winners


When it comes to top titles for younger readers, several prestigious awards are bestowed to denote the best of the best. Northwest Shoals Community College library director Lori Skinner has these recent award-winning titles to recommend:

2024 Caldecott Medal Winner


By Vashti Harrison

“Big,” the first picture book written and illustrated by award-winning creator Vashti Harrison, is a standout. This is a gentle reminder with spare text and gorgeous illustrations that showcases the importance of choosing our words carefully and recognizing that words have power to both hurt and heal. “Big” is also a Coretta Scott King Award Author and Illustrator Honor book, a National Book Award finalist and a New York Times bestseller. You can’t go wrong with this one!

2024 Newberry Medal Winner

“The Eyes and the Impossible”

Written by David Eggers

Art by Shawn Harris

“The Eyes and the Impossible,” written by David Eggers and illustrated by Shawn Harris, is an engaging novel for middle grades told through the exuberant voice of Johannes, a good-natured free dog who lives in an urban park near the sea. His job is to be the Eyes, to see everything that happens in the park, and report back to the park’s elders – three ancient bison. As changes happen, including an actual boatload of goats, Johannes’ view of the world is challenged and changed. Ultimately a story about friendship, beauty, liberation and running very, very fast, this charming novel will encourage readers of all ages to see the world around them in a new way.

2023 Mildred L. Batchelder Award

“Just a Girl: A True Story of World War II”

Written by Lia Levi

Art by Jess Mason

Illustrated by Jess Mason, translated from Italian by Sylvia Notini and written by Lia Levi, “Just a Girl: A True Story of World War II” is adapted from the memoir of Levi. Six-year-old Lia loves to build sandcastles in 1938 Italy. Her world changes when prime minister Mussolini joins forces with Hitler in World War II. Lia can’t understand why Jewish children can’t go to school and why her father can’t go to work and why they have to give up their home and move from city to city. When the war comes closer and it becomes too dangerous for them to stay together, Lia and her sisters are sent to hide at a convent, and Lia wonders whether she will ever be “just a girl” again. This powerful story includes black and white illustrations, a family photo album and an author’s note to readers.

2023 Pura Belpre’ Award for Children’s Text

2023 Wisner for the Best Publication for Kids


Written by Claribel A. Ortega

Art by Rose Bousamra

Marlene, a young Dominican girl, loves three things: books, her cool Tia Ruby and hanging out with her best friend Camila. But according to her mother, the only things she needs to focus on are school and “growing up.” That means facing her greatest enemy: the hair salon! Her mother wants her to straighten her hair every weekend so she can have “presentable,” “good hair.”  Marlene does not understand why her curls are not considered pretty by those around her, but with a journey of self-discovery and help from her loved ones, she learns to appreciate and proudly wear her curly hair.