Mock Mondays: What Should Win

Hey all, it’s Sarah!

The announcement of the winners for the 2021 ALA Youth Media Awards is almost here.  Like the groundhog that predicts the Super Bowl winners, I try to pick the upcoming winners of these awards. Typically, I have some sense of what will most likely win, but this year it is hard to figure out what will win. I think the world going on pause and exploding has made the crop of books totally all over the place. I expect winners and honor books to be completely unexpected and all over the map. I figure I am going to pepper my choices with my favorites, just to bring more attention to them.

These are my picks. What are yours? Winners? Honor books?

Here is what I have got for you.



The Fabled Life of Aesop by Ian Lendler, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski

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This is my favorite picture book of the year. The illustrations enhance the story. The format of the book enhances the information and provides an excellent visual representation of the information presented. I want everyone to read this book and I hope that this work makes an appearance as a Caldecott winner.


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I want spreads from Outside In hanging on my walls, I think it is a great expression of reconnection with nature reads can have. My Best Friend had me at pickles, the pickle illustration made me want to give this book every award I could. I am Every Good Thing blew my mind through both the words and the images.



Echo Mountain by Lauren Wolk


This author has a way with words. Wolk’s books read like literature and will challenge any young reader. The subjects and histories covered in this novel are unique and interesting. They are a great spark for further nonfiction reading and show readers that you may not be born with a knowledge but exploration and experimentation can get you there.


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Ryan from Ways to Make Sunshine is a contemporary Ramona. She is a character I can’t wait to see what she gets into next. The List of Things that Will Not Change is a sweet novel that stays with you. I really love Zoe Washington and hope she finds her way on several lists. 



Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson


This book shook me to my core. (While not part of the Printz criteria, the audio reader was a perfect pairing with this novel, she gave life to the lyrical words.) Jackson’s way with words was poetic within narrative form. The pain spills from the page, but also the strength that one can find in times of need. This novel gave life to many news stories that have occurred between fans and stars. It brings this toxic culture to light and shows how easily parents and children/teens can be harmed by these monstrous people. This book has rich layers that bring topics to the discussion table. It is a solid book that I can see being used in the classroom, (though to be honest probably the college classroom based on the topic. While it is important for older teens, I can see it being difficult to include this in a high school curriculum.)


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It was hard to pick a winner from all four of these books. One, I even took the time to submit to the Printz Committee. I recommend all of these books and hope that they get the attention they deserve.


Get your popcorn and snacks ready for book award season next Monday. I will be impatiently waiting for the winners, see you on the other side. 

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