MLA 2020 Youth Literary Awards Winners and Honor Books

November 5, 2020

We are excited to share the winners and honor books of the 2020 Mitten, YouPer and Thumbs Up! Awards! The winners and honor books of the 2020 Youth Literary Awards were announced during Fall Institute for Youth Services Preconference on Tuesday, October 27.

The awards selection group members worked throughout the year spending thousands of hours reading, reviewing and ranking hundreds of books to determine the top titles published in 2019. Watch the announcement that includes acceptance speeches from our winners below and read on for details!

MLA 2020 Mitten Award 

The Mitten Award is designed to recognize and promote quality literature for youth in picture book format. Read more about the Mitten Award.

The 2020 Mitten Award Work Group, chaired by Amy Young, School Outreach Librarian, Clinton-Macomb Public Library, evaluated 168 books, spending more than 230 hours reading, reviewing and discussing picture books to determine the top titles published in 2019.

The 2020 Mitten Award Top Ten Titles were announced in the Spring of 2020. View the complete list at www.milibraries.org/mitten-award

2020 Mitten Award Winner

The winner of the 2020 Mitten Award is The VERY Impatient Caterpillar, written and illustrated by Ross Burach and published by Scholastic Press.

The Very Impatient Caterpillar: Am I a Butterfly Yet? is a side-splitting tribute to a challenge many children face – being patient! Our hero is intrigued when his friends tell him they are going off to metamorphosize and he hurries to join them. However, when he learns that metamorphosizing is all about waiting, readers may wonder if he is up to the task. Young people will sympathize with his refrain, “Is it time yet?” and rejoice with him when it actually is.

The Mitten Work Group found this title award-worthy because it manages to weave a problem many children face – being patient – with science and comedy. The illustrations both extend the meaning of the text and increase the humor. It is a book that appeals to multiple age groups and has the potential to spark or extend interest in life sciences. Beyond that, it makes children laugh so they do not even realize they might be learning something – about both science and the benefits of exercising patience.

"The VERY Impatient Caterpillar: Am I a Butterfly Yet? by Ross Burach is a laugh-out-loud lesson on the importance of being patient," said 2020 Work Group Chair Amy Young, Clinton-Macomb Public Library. "Kids of all ages will sympathize with the lead character while at the same time learning a little something about life science. It’s not very often that STEM books and comedy mesh this well!"

2020 Mitten Award Honor Books

The 2020 Mitten Award Honor books include Who Wet My Pants, written by Bob Shea, illustrated by Zachariah Ohora and published by Little, Brown and Company; Fly! written and illustrated by Mark Teague and published by Beach Lane Books; Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story written by Kevin Noble Maillard, illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal and published by Roaring Brook Press; and The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family written by Ibtihaj Muhammad & S.K. Ali, illustrated by Hatem Aly, and published by Little, Brown and Company.

MLA 2020 YouPer Award

The YouPer or Young Person Award recognizes and promotes quality literature for youth in chapter book format. Read more about the YouPer Award.

The YouPer Award Work Group, chaired by Killian Weston, Youth Services Librarian, Bloomfield Township Public Library, read a total of 128 titles and logged more than 2080 hours reading, evaluating and discussing the best chapter books for youth published in 2019.

The 2020 YouPer (Young Person) Award Top Ten Titles were announced in the Spring of 2020. View the complete list at www.milibraries.org/youper-award

2020 YouPer Award Winner

The winner of the 2020 YouPer (Young Person) award is Planet Earth Is Blue by Nicole Panteleakos, published by Wendy Lamb Books.

In Planet Earth is Blue, Nova has passed from foster home to foster home, along with her older sister Bridget, for most of her life. When she finds herself in a new foster home without her sister – the only person who didn’t dismiss her as severely autistic and nonverbal – Nova clings to their shared love of astronomy and Bridget’s promise that they would watch the upcoming launch of the Challenger together.

"In the YouPer Award Work Group's final vote, Planet Earth is Blue became the clear winner for the year. While many of the titles we read were wonderful, the group felt the book’s main character, Nova, is entirely unique in children’s literature and offers readers a different perspective on autism than our group had seen represented before. This representation allows for a greater understanding of neurodiversity among readers," said Work Group Chair Killian Weston, Youth Services Librarian, Bloomfield Township Public Library.

"Ultimately, we chose a winner we felt had an exceptionally unique protagonist who gives readers a window into a world not easily expressed, offered opportunities for parents and children to discuss more recent history, and was so beautifully written that it tugged at everyone’s heartstrings."

2020 YouPer Award Honor Books

The 2020 YouPer Award Honor Books include The Mighty Heart of Sunny St. James by Ashley Herring Blake, published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; Sal & Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez, published by Rick Riordan Presents; Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia, published by Rick Riordan Presents.

MLA 2020 Thumbs Up! Award

The Thumbs Up! Award recognizes and promotes an outstanding contribution to teen literature that has both literary quality and teen appeal for those 13 to 18 years of age. A teen vote from the Top Ten Titles determines the Teen's choice. Read more about the Thumbs Up! Award.

The 2020 work group, chaired by Cristen Jackson, Branch Librarian, Genesee District Library, considered 109 titles, reading, evaluating, reviewing and deliberating for more than 3,300 hours to select the top titles for teens aged 13-18 published in 2019.

The 2020 Thumbs Up! Award Top Ten Titles were announced in the Spring of 2020. View the complete list at www.milibraries.org/thumbs-up-award

2020 Thumbs Up! Award Winner

The winner of the 2020 Thumbs Up! Award is Heroine by Mindy McGinnis, published by Katherine Tegen Books.

Heroine's protagonist Mickey, the superstar catcher of her school’s softball team, is in a car crash. After the crash, she is prescribed painkillers and they are the only thing that helps make her feel well enough to get behind the plate again. However, the painkillers do more than just take away the pain, they make her feel good. So good, Mickey starts to take them more than she should. As the pressure increases to get back on the softball team, Mickey begins to become addicted to the painkillers and begins to lose control.

"The 2020 Thumbs Up! Work Group picked Heroine by Mindy McGinnis as the winner because of the timeliness of this book," said Work Group Chair Cristen Jackson, Branch Librarian, Genesee District Library. "The book pushes beyond stereotypes to show that all people can be affected by the opioid epidemic and addiction. Heroine also discusses the pressures teens face when it comes to school, sports, and their families. Overall, we picked Heroine as our winner because it is a book that honestly and accurately portrays reality, even when it’s difficult and challenging."

"There were so many good books this year that we had a difficult time narrowing down our Top 10 but our winner was clear from the start. The whole work group loved Heroine because even though it was difficult to read, it was so honest in its portrayal of addiction. Everyone should read this book."

2020 Thumbs Up! Award Honor Books

The 2020 Thumbs Up! Award Honor books include Girls on the Verge by Sharon Biggs Waller, published by Henry Holt & Co. and Slay written by Brittney Morris, published by Simon Pulse.

2020 Thumbs Up! Award Teen Choice

Teens aged 13 to 18 from throughout Michigan voted online for their favorite book from the Top Ten Titles to determine the 2020 Thumbs Up! Teen Choice. The winner of the 2020 Teen Choice is On the Come Up by Angie Thomas, published by Balzer + Bray.

 

 


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