Claire Hartfield, author of “A Few Red Drops: The Chicago Race Riot of 1919,” and Ekua Holmes, illustrator of “The Stuff of Stars,” are the winners of the 2019 Coretta Scott King Book Awards honoring African American authors and illustrators of outstanding books for children and young adults. Tiffany D. Jackson, author of “Monday’s Not Coming,” and Oge Mora, illustrator of “Thank You, Omu!” are the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent winners. The awards were announced today at the American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Meeting & Exhibits, held Jan. 25-29, 2019, in Seattle, Washington and will be presented in Washington, D.C. at the ALA Annual Conference & Exhibition in June.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Coretta Scott King Book Awards. Presented annually by the Coretta Scott King Book Awards Committee of the ALA’s Ethnic and Multicultural Information Exchange Round Table (EMIERT), the awards encourage the artistic expression of the African American experience via literature and the graphic arts; promote an understanding and appreciation of the Black culture and experience, and commemorate the life and legacy of Mrs. Coretta Scott King for her courage and determination in supporting the work of her husband, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., for peace and world brotherhood.
“A Few Red Drops: The Chicago Race Riot of 1919,” published by Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, is a meticulously researched exposition of the socio-economic landscape and racial tensions that led to the death of a black teen who wanted to swim, and the violent clash that resulted. In 20 chapters, Hartfield’s balanced, eye-opening account contextualizes a range of social justice issues that persist to this day.
Claire Hartfield, a lifelong Chicago resident, published her debut novel, “Me and Uncle Romie” (Dial Books), which received national honors in 2002. Hartfield’s second book, “A Few Red Drops: The Chicago Race Riot of 1919” (Clarion), tells the story of the Chicago Race Riot of 1919. She is particularly interested in writing about people and events.
“Hartfield’s nuanced account of unrest between African Americans and white European immigrants in early 20th century Chicago fills a much-needed gap in the children’s literature world,” said Coretta Scott King Book Awards Jury Chair Sam Bloom.
In “The Stuff of Stars,” written by Marion Dane Bauer and published by Candlewick Press, illustrator Ekua Holmes uses hand marbled paper and collage to create a lush explosion of color that brings to life the formation of the universe while distinctly reflecting the essence of the African diaspora.
“Using oceanic waves of color, Holmes employs her trademark aesthetic to carry this creation story to its stunning crescendo,” said Bloom.
Ekua Holmes is a native of Roxbury, Massachusetts and a graduate of the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. The recipient of several children’s awards, Holmes received the 2018 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award for “Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets”; and a Caldecott Honor, Robert F. Sibert Honor, John Steptoe New Talent Illustrator Award, and Boston Globe-Horn Book Non-fiction Honor for “Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer, The Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement.”
The Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent affirms new talent and offers visibility for excellence in writing and/or illustration at the beginning of a career as a published African American creator of children’s books. This year’s winners are Tiffany D. Jackson, author of “Monday’s Not Coming,” published by Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, and Oge Mora, illustrator of “Thank You, Omu!” published by Little, Brown Young Readers.
In the timely thriller “Monday’s Not Coming,” Jackson examines friendship, child abuse, and family relationships. In alternating chapters, the reader is immediately pulled into the angst that Claudia feels as she struggles to piece together this fragmented tale that concludes with a mind-blowing resolution of Monday’s disappearance.
“Thank You, Omu!” is a fresh take on a timeless tale of altruism and community-mindedness. Mora’s collage work is skillfully pieced together with acrylic, marker, pastels, patterned paper, and old book clippings, creating a visual smorgasbord. Mora brings to life an amalgamation of many grandmothers and captures the African spirit of generosity and community.
Three King Author Honor Books were selected:
“Finding Langston” by Lesa Cline-Ransome, published by Holiday House; “The Parker inheritance” by Varian Johnson, published by Arthur A. Levine Books, an imprint of Scholastic Inc.; and “The season of Styx Malone” by Kekla Magoon, published by Wendy Lamb Books, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Random House LLC.
Three Illustrator Honor Books were selected:
“Hidden Figures” illustrated by Laura Freeman, written by Margot Lee Shetterly, and published by HarperCollins Children’s Books, a division of HarperCollins Publishers; “Let the children march” illustrated by Frank Morrison, written by Monica Clark-Robinson, and published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company; and “Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop” illustrated by R. Gregory Christie, written by Alice Faye Duncan, and published by Calkins Creek, an imprint of Highlights.
Members of the 2019 Coretta Scott King Book Awards Jury are: Chair Sam Bloom, Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County; Jessica Anne Bratt, Grand Rapids (Mich.) Public Library; Irene L. Briggs, Retired, Silver Spring, Md.; LaKeshia Darden, Campbell University, N.C.; Jason Miles Driver, Sr., Chicago Public Library; Dr. Sujin Bernadette Huggins, Dominican University, River Forest, Ill.; and Christina Vortia, HypeLit, Land O’Lakes, Fla.
For information on the Coretta Scott King Book Awards and other ALA Youth Media Awards, visit www.ala.org/yma.
This article originally appeared in the Charleston Chronicle.