The American Library Association (ALA) announced the 2021 Youth Media Awards on Monday. We’re so pleased to share our titles selected as top books for children and young adults.

2021 Coretta Scott King Book Award Author Honor Book
Lifting As We Climb by Evette Dionne

Sydney Taylor Book Award Gold Medalist in the Young Adult Category
Dancing at the Pity Party by Tyler Feder

Sydney Taylor Book Award Silver Medalists in the Middle Grades Category
No Vacancy by Tziporah Cohen
Anya and the Nightingale by Sofiya Pasternack

Two Finalists for The YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults
The Cat I Never Named: A True Story of Love, War, and Survival by Amra Sabic-El-Rayess with Laura L. Sullivan
You Call This Democracy?: How to Fix Our Democracy and Deliver Power to the People by Elizabeth Rusch

The 2021 Margaret A. Edwards Award Winner for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults is Kekla Magoon. Her titles published by RBmedia include How it Went Down and Light it Up.

 

Lifting As We Climb by Evette Dionne has been selected as a 2021 Coretta Scott King Book Award Author Honor Book, which recognizes outstanding books for young adults and children by African American authors and illustrators that reflect the African American experience. The first book for young readers to focus on the subject, Dionne recounts how women of color, especially African American women, were fighting for their right to vote and to be treated as full, equal citizens of the United States. Their battlefront wasn’t just about gender. African American women had to deal with white abolitionist-suffragists who drew the line at sharing power with their black sisters. They had to overcome deep, exclusionary racial prejudices that were rife in the American suffrage movement. And they had to maintain their dignity—and safety—in a society that tried to keep them in its bottom ranks. The book received three starred reviews.

 

Dancing at the Pity Party by Tyler Feder has won the Sydney Taylor Young Adult Award as an outstanding book for children and teens that authentically portrays the Jewish experience. From before her mother’s first oncology appointment through the stages of her cancer to the funeral, sitting shiva, and afterward, when she must try to make sense of her life as a motherless daughter, Tyler Feder tells her story in this graphic novel that is full of piercing–but also often funny–details. She shares the important post-death firsts, such as celebrating holidays without her mom, the utter despair of cleaning out her mom’s closet, ending old traditions and starting new ones, and the sting of having the “I’ve got to tell Mom about this” instinct and not being able to act on it. This memoir, bracingly candid and sweetly humorous, is for anyone struggling with loss who just wants someone to get it. Dancing at the Pity Party received five starred reviews, a Spring 2020 Indie Next Pick for Teens and was featured in People, Cosmo.com and Shondaland.

 

No Vacancy by Tziporah Cohen has been selected as a Sydney Taylor Book Award Silver Medalist in the Middle Grades Category presented to outstanding books for children and teens that authentically portray the Jewish experience. When her parents decide to buy and move into the run-down Jewel Motor Inn in upstate New York, it’s not exactly eleven-year-old Miriam Brockman’s dream. She misses her familiar routine and life in Manhattan, especially Shabbat dinners with friends and family. It turns out that running a motel is a lot of hard work, but it’s also a bit of an adventure. Miriam befriends Kate, whose grandmother owns the diner next door, and finds comfort in the company of Maria, the motel’s housekeeper, and Father Donovan, the local priest. But when it becomes clear that only a miracle is going to save the Jewel from bankruptcy, Jewish Miriam and Catholic Kate decide to create one of their own. This book received a Quill & Quire starred review.

 

Anya and the Nightingale by Sofiya Pasternack has been selected as a Sydney Taylor Book Award Silver Medalist in the Middle Grades Category presented to outstanding books for children and teens that authentically portray the Jewish experience. The adventure continues in this exciting sequel to Anya and the Dragon in which a dangerous monster lurks beneath the city and only Anya can keep him from taking her friends’ magic-and their lives. Perfect for fans of The Girl Who Drank the Moon. It’s been a year since a violent Viking terrorized the small village of Zmeyreka and Anya and her foolish friend Ivan saved a friendly dragon from being sacrificed for his magic. But things still aren’t safe in the kingdom of Kievan Rus’. After embarking on a journey to bring her papa home from war, Anya discovers a powerful forest creature terrorizing travelers. But she soon learns that he’s not the monster the kingdom should fear. There’s an even greater evil that lurks under the city. Can Anya stop the monster, save her papa, and find her way home? Or will the secrets of Kiev leave Anya and her friends trapped beneath the city forever? Anya and the Nightingale is on the BookRiot Best Children’s Books of 2020 list!

 

The Cat I Never Named: A True Story of Love, War, and Survival by Amra Sabic-El-Rayess with Laura L. Sullivan has been named a finalist for The YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults. It is 1992 and Bihac, Amra’s hometown, is a multicultural city with Muslims, Croats, and Serbs. But when tensions escalate, the Serbs turn on their Bosnian neighbors. The Serbs control the army, and now they have peaceful Bihac surrounded. Soon Amra and her family are dealing with starvation and the threat of brutal violence; school, friendships, and the attentions from a new boy have to take a back seat to finding food and the tragic fallout from rising bigotry and ethnic hatred. Through it all, a stray cat, Maci, serves as a guardian spirit to the entire family. The book received six starred reviews.

 

You Call This Democracy?: How to Fix Our Democracy and Deliver Power to the People by Elizabeth Rosch has been named a finalist for The YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults. America is the greatest democracy in the world . . . isn’t it? Author Elizabeth Rusch examines some of the more problematic aspects of our government but, more importantly, offers ways for young people to fix them. The political landscape has never been so tumultuous: issues with the electoral college, gerrymandering, voter suppression, and a lack of representation in the polls and in our leadership have led to Americans of all ages asking, How did we get here? The power to change lies with the citizens of this great country-especially teens! Rather than pointing fingers at people and political parties, You Call This Democracy? looks at flaws in the system-and offers a real way out of the mess we are in. Each chapter breaks down a different problem plaguing American democracy, exploring how it’s undemocratic, offering possible solutions (with examples of real-life teens who have already started working toward them), and suggesting ways to effect change-starting NOW! This book received a Kirkus starred review.