At the American Library Association’s (ALA) midwinter conference yesterday in Atlanta, Minnesota native Kelly Barnhil was awarded the 2017 John Newbery Medal for The Girl Who Drank the Moon (Algonquin Young Readers). Like her 2014 debut The Witch’s Boy, this fantasy coming-of-age fairy tale will no doubt secure itself as a modern classic.
I had the great privilege of speaking with Barnhill back in 2014 about The Witch’s Boy and the importance of magic and danger in children’s literature, which ran here in January 2015. That interview also served as a resource for a story I wrote for the Spring 2015 issue of The Sewanee Review that traces the origins of danger imagery in children’s stories, starting with fairy tales by the Grimm Brothers and moving into the present day. I am grateful to Gregory Maguire, Mac Barnett, and Kelly Barnhill for their powerful and nuanced thoughts on the importance of their craft for shaping the minds of young readers.
Congratulations to all of yesterday’s winners–check out my Friday column on the Fine Books Blog for a full run-down of the ALA awards.