Little, Brown Books for Young Readers Receives an Unprecedented Number of Accolades from the American Library Association

NEW YORK, NY (January 30, 2023)

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers (LBYR), a division of Hachette Book Group, is pleased to share the following accolades announced today at the 2023 American Library Association (ALA) LibLearnX meeting, held in New Orleans. Amina Luqman-Dawson has received the 2023 John Newbery Medal for Freewater (JIMMY Patterson Books/LBYR). The Newbery Medal is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. Amina was also named the 2023 Coretta Scott King Book Award Author Winner for Freewater. The Coretta Scott King Book Awards are given annually to outstanding African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values.

Christopher Denise has received a 2023 Caldecott Honor for Knight Owl (Christy Ottaviano Books/LBYR). Michaela Goade has received a 2023 Caldecott Honor for Berry Song. The Caldecott Honors are bestowed to artists of the most distinguished picture books for children. Dr. Michael Eric Dyson and Marc Favreau’s Unequal has been named a finalist for the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults. YALSA’s Award for Excellence in Nonfiction honors the best nonfiction book published for young adults (ages 12–18). Erin Hourigan’s In the Blue has been awarded the Schneider Family Book Award for Young Children Honor. The Schneider Family Book Awards honor an author or illustrator for a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences. Rob Kearney and Eric Rosswood have received an Honor from the Stonewall–Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children’s & Young Adult Literature Award for Strong. The Stonewall Book Awards are presented to English language books that have exceptional merit relating to the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender experience.Troublemaker by John Cho (with Sarah Suk) received an APALA Asian/Pacific American Award for Children’s Literature Honor. The goal of the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature is to honor and recognize individual work about Asian/Pacific Americans and their heritage, based on literary and artistic merit. Author A. J. Sass has received a Sydney Taylor Book Award Honor for Middle Grade for his book Ellen Outside the Lines. The Sydney Taylor Book Award is presented annually to outstanding books for children and teens that authentically portray the Jewish experience.

“What a thrill to see this avalanche of accolades from ALA for Little, Brown Books for Young Readers titles, the most in my 35 years here,” said Megan Tingley, President and Publisher of LBYR. “We are immensely proud to see Amina Luqman-Dawson win two major awards for her extraordinary debut novel and to be the first Black woman to win the Newbery Medal in over 45 years. It is also especially rewarding to see artists Christopher Denise and Michaela Goade honored for the first picture books they both wrote and illustrated.”

Freewater, edited by Alexandra Hightower (Editor, LBYR), is “historical fiction at its finest” (BookPage). Under the cover of night, 12-year-old Homer flees Southerland Plantation with his little sister Ada, unwillingly leaving their beloved mother behind. Much as he adores her and fears for her life, Homer knows there’s no turning back, not with the overseer on their trail. Through tangled vines, secret doorways, and over a sky bridge, the two find a secret community called Freewater deep in the swamp. In this society, created by formerly enslaved people and some freeborn children, Homer finds new friends, almost forgetting where he came from. But when he learns of a threat that could destroy Freewater, he crafts a plan to find his mother and help his new home. A “lyrical story of hope, strength, and ingenuity” (Booklist), Freewater was the recipient of five starred reviews and was covered by the Washington Post, Entertainment Weekly, NPR, and more. It is author Amina Luqman-Dawson’s debut novel.

Amina Luqman-Dawson loves telling stories that build an understanding of race, culture, and community. The author of the pictorial history book Images of America: African Americans of Petersburg (Arcadia Publishing), she has also published op-eds in newspapers, magazine articles, travel writing, and book reviews. She has a BA in political science from Vassar College and a Master of Public Policy from UC Berkeley, and has worked as a policy professional, researcher, and consultant on issues of education and criminal justice. Amina lives in Arlington, Virginia, with her husband and 13-year-old son.

Knight Owl, edited by Christy Ottaviano (VP, Publisher, Christy Ottaviano Books, an imprint of LBYR), was one of the most beloved picture books of 2022, landing on best-of lists from Amazon, NPR, Good Housekeeping, Washington Post, Kirkus, and more. It was also a New York Times and Indie bestseller, named Barnes & Noble’s Best Picture Book of the Year, and is an international success that has been translated into 17 languages. “Sweet and epic by turns” (NPR), Knight Owl is a “crackling tale” (Publishers Weekly) of the determined Owl, who has always dreamed of becoming a real knight. He may not be the biggest or the strongest, but his sharp nocturnal instincts can help him protect the castle, especially since many knights have recently gone missing. While holding guard during Knight Night Watch, Owl is faced with the ultimate trial—a frightening intruder. “An old-fashioned story with an amusing twist and a cute-as-a-button protagonist that charms on every level” (Booklist).

Christopher Denise spent much of his childhood in Shannon, Ireland, exploring castles and dreaming of great adventures. He is the illustrator of many critically acclaimed books for young readers, including Anika Aldamuy Denise’s Bunny in the Middle, Alison McGhee’s Firefly Hollow, Rosemary Wells’s Following Grandfather, and Anne Marie Pace’s Groundhug Day, as well as several in Brian Jacques’s award-winning Redwall series. His books have appeared on the Indie Next List and the New York Times bestseller list and in the Society of Illustrators’ Annual Exhibition. Knight Owl marks his author-illustrator debut. Christopher lives with his family in Rhode Island.

Berry Song, edited by Susan Rich (Editor-at-Large, LBYR), is Michaela Goade’s author-illustrator debut, the recipient of five starred reviews, and was named a best book of the year by NPR, BookPage, Publishers Weekly, and more. On an island at the edge of a wide, wild sea, a girl and her grandmother gather gifts from the earth: salmon from the stream, herring eggs from the ocean, and in the forest, a world of berries. Brimming with joy and gratitude, in every step of their journey they forge a deeper kinship with both the earth and the generations that came before, joining in the song that connects us all.

Michaela Goade is a Caldecott Medalist and a #1 New York Times bestselling artist. She is the illustrator of a number of award-winning and bestselling books, including We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom and I Sang You Down from the Stars by Tasha Spillett-Sumner. She is from the Raven moiety and Kiks.ádi clan from Sitka, Alaska, where she currently lives.

Unequal, edited by Lisa Yoskowitz (Executive Editorial Director, LBYR), a School Library Journal and New York Public Library Best Book of the Year and called “empowering, profound, and necessary” (School Library Journal), presents a gripping account of the struggles that shaped America and the insidiousness of racism, and demonstrates how inequality persists today. As readers meet some of the many African American people who dared to fight for a more equal future, they will also discover a framework for addressing racial injustice in their own lives.

Dr. Michael Eric Dyson is an award-winning and New York Times bestselling author of over 20 books, a widely celebrated professor, a prominent public intellectual, an ordained Baptist minister, and a noted political analyst. He is a two-time NAACP Image Award winner and the winner of the American Book Award for Come Hell or High Water: Hurricane Katrina and the Color of Disaster. His book The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America was a Kirkus Prize finalist. Unequal is his first book for teens. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee. Marc Favreau is the acclaimed author of Crash: The Great Depression and the Fall and Rise of America and Spies: The Secret Showdown Between America and Russia, and co-editor (with Ira Berlin and Steven F. Miller) of Remembering Slavery: African Americans Talk About Their Personal Experiences of Slavery and Emancipation. Favreau is also the director of editorial programs at the New Press. He lives with his family in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.

In the Blue, edited by Samantha Gentry (Editor, LBYR) is an “impressively evocative” (Kirkus Reviews) and “essential” (School Library Journal) picture book debut that explores depression within a family. With author-illustrator Erin Hourigan’s use of color to indicate the ups and downs of one family’s emotions, In the Blue is an accessible way to discuss mental illness with young readers.

Erin Hourigan is an author and illustrator who lives in Portland, Oregon. In high school, Erin first learned of her dad’s clinical depression. As she grew up and embarked on her own emotional journey, she wanted to make a book that could spark conversations in families who may not always talk about such big emotions. In the Blue is her author-illustrator debut.

Strong, edited by Lisa Yoskowitz, is a “positive, affirming” (Kirkus) true story of the world’s first openly gay strongman. Rob wants to flip huge tires, lug boulders, and haul trucks—and someday be the strongest man in the world! But he feels like he can’t fit in with his bright clothes and rainbow-dyed hair. Once he falls in love with Joey, Rob steps into his true self and becomes a champion. Based on author Rob Kearney’s own life, co-written with Eric Rosswood, and illustrated by Nidhi Chanani, this “happy, bright book” (Booklist) has been lauded by GMA3Boston Globe, and others, and shows young readers there are lots of ways to be STRONG.

Rob Kearney is the only openly gay professional strongman in the world. He is a North American champion, a world-record holder, and a Pro Ambassador for Athlete Ally. He lives in Massachusetts with his husband, Joey.

Eric Rosswood is an LGBTQ+ activist and the award-winning author of Journey to Same-Sex Parenthood and The Ultimate Guide for Gay Dads. Eric lives in New York with his husband, Mat, and their two children.

Troublemaker, edited by Alvina Ling (VP and Editor-In-Chief, LBYR), was an instant New York Times bestseller and lauded as “an important, even profound, story” (The Horn Book), “a gripping work of historical fiction” (Publishers Weekly), “more relevant to today’s issues than ever before” (Book Riot), and “a resounding rebuttal of the model minority myth” (The New York Times). Cho’s middle grade debut depicts how 12-year-old Jordan’s adventures enfold over the evening of April 29, 1992—the first night of the LA Riots—and highlights the unique Korean American perspective of the event.

John Cho is known as Harold from Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle, Hikaru Sulu from J.J. Abrams’s Star Trek, or as the star of the live-action Netflix series Cowboy Bebop, based on the worldwide cult anime phenomenon. John is also a former seventh-grade English teacher who grew up as a Korean immigrant kid in Texas and East LA (among many other places). He is the proud father, with his Japanese American wife Kerri, of two children.

Sarah Suk (cowriter) is the author of young adult novels Made in Korea and The Space Between Here and Now. She lives in Vancouver, Canada.

Ellen Outside the Lines, edited by Lisa Yoskowitz, is a “heartwarming and inviting book” (School Library Journal) about a neurodivergent 13-year-old navigating changing friendships, a school trip, and expanding horizons. A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year and a Booklist 2022 Editors’ Choice Book, Ellen Outside The Lines shines in its nuanced characterizations, subversion of stereotypes, and world that celebrates autism for the joy it brings” (Booklist).

J. Sass(he/they) is the author of Ana on the Edge, an ALA 2021 Rainbow Book List Top 10 title, and Ellen Outside the Lines. He lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his husband.


About Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers is a division of Hachette Book Group, a leading trade publisher based in New York and a division of Hachette Livre, the third-largest trade and educational publisher in the world. HBG is made up of eight publishing groups: Little, Brown and Company, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, Grand Central Publishing, Perseus Books, Orbit, Hachette Nashville, Hachette Audio, and Workman Publishing. For more information, visit