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Children's librarians announce the winners of the Newbery and Caldecott medals

ASMA KHALID, HOST:

The most prestigious awards in children's literature were announced today. NPR's Neda Ulaby tells us about this year's winners of the Newbery and Caldecott medals and other top honors chosen by children's librarians.

NEDA ULABY, BYLINE: This is the 100th year the American Library Association has given out the John Newbery Medal.

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UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: This medal is awarded annually to the author of the most distinguished book for children.

ULABY: Awarded in a way the 18th century bookseller the Newbery was named for could never have imagined - in a ceremony online. This year's winner, "The Last Cuentista," also won the award for best kid's book expressing the Latino experience.

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DONNA BARBA HIGUERA: (Reading) Chapter One - Lita tosses another pinion log onto the fire.

ULABY: At a virtual bookstore reading last year, author Donna Barba Higuera introduced audiences to her heroine. Petra Pena is a Mexican American girl sent to a dystopian planet where she's sustained by memories of the folktales her grandmother told her back on Earth.

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BARBA HIGUERA: (Reading) Habia una vez, she begins her story, a young fire snake nagual. His mother was Earth, his father, the Sun.

ULABY: The American Library Association awarded its Randolph Caldecott Medal to a picture book called "Watercress" about a little girl's embarrassment when her immigrant parents spot the plant on the side of the road and decide to eat it for dinner. Author Andrea Wang talked about the real-life memory it's based on last year on NPR.

ANDREA WANG: For me to have to go out and gather food from this muddy ditch really just made me aware of how different I was from my peers.

ULABY: But her family's resourcefulness becomes a point of pride. "Watercress" was illustrated by Jason Chin in watercolors evoking traditional Chinese landscapes. The Coretta Scott King Award went to a history book called "Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre." The best audiobook for children is set in the Bronx. "Boogie Boogie, Y'all" was narrated and written by C.G. Esperanza.

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C G ESPERANZA: (Reading) The boogie-down block party boogied in the Sun.

ULABY: Neda Ulaby, NPR News.

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ESPERANZA: (Reading) Cocoa, mango, cherry, yelled the man with icy treats while the break crew boogied to a bombayo beat. The whole block was bubbling and having a blast. Just then, it happened with a bang and a flash. Boom-ala-kazooma (ph). Art boogied up the wall. Boom-ala-kazooma. Art boogied up the wall. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Neda Ulaby reports on arts, entertainment, and cultural trends for NPR's Arts Desk.

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