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Dave Eggers wins Newbery, Vashti Harrison wins Caldecott in 2024 kids' lit prizes

Vashti Harrison's <em>Big</em> and Dave Eggers' <em>The Eyes and the Impossible </em>took top honors from the American Library Assocation.
Alfred A. Knopf/McSweeney's and Little, Brown and Co.
Vashti Harrison's Big and Dave Eggers' The Eyes and the Impossible took top honors from the American Library Assocation.

The top awards for children's literature in 2024 were announced Monday at the American Library Association's annual Youth Media Awards. Author Dave Eggers won the John Newbery Medal, which is given to the most distinguished American children's book published the previous year, for his middle grade book The Eyes and the Impossible, which was illustrated by Shawn Harris. Author and illustrator Vashti Harrison won the Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children, for her book Big.

In an interview with All Things Considered last May, Eggers said that writing from the voice of a stray dog, as he does in The Eyes and the Impossible, was "the most sort of liberating and joyful kind of writing I've ever done."

Harrison, in her own All Things Considered interview last May, said that the impetus for Big, which follows a little girl growing up, was "to make a story that followed a child on a journey towards self-love." Both The Eyes and the Impossible and Bigwere also named as two of NPR's Books We Love in 2023.

Harrison is the first Black woman to win the Caldecott Medal; her book Big was also awarded both Coretta Scott King author and illustrator honors on Monday as well.

Five other Newbery honor books were also named Monday: Eagle Drums, written and illustrated by Nasuġraq Rainey Hopson; Elf Dog and Owl Head, written by M.T. Anderson and illustrated by Junyi Wu; Mexikid: A Graphic Memoir,written and illustrated by Pedro Martín; Simon Sort of Says, written by Erin Bow; and The Many Assassinations of Samir, the Seller of Dreams, written by Daniel Nayeri and illustrated by Daniel Miyares.

Four other books took Caldecott honors: In Every Life, illustrated and written by Marla Frazee; Jovita Wore Pants: The Story of a Mexican Freedom Fighter, illustrated by Molly Mendoza and written by Aida Salazar; There Was a Party for Langston, illustrated by Jerome Pumphrey and Jarrett Pumphrey, and written by Jason Reynolds; and The Truth About Dragons, illustrated by Hanna Cha, and written by Julie Leung.

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Anastasia Tsioulcas is a reporter on NPR's Arts desk. She is intensely interested in the arts at the intersection of culture, politics, economics and identity, and primarily reports on music. Recently, she has extensively covered gender issues and #MeToo in the music industry, including backstage tumult and alleged secret deals in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against megastar singer Plácido Domingo; gender inequity issues at the Grammy Awards and the myriad accusations of sexual misconduct against singer R. Kelly.

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