By Libby Stille, Publicist
This morning at ALA Midwinter in Seattle, Lerner received two ALA awards! I, Claudia by Mary McCoy was awarded a Michael L. Printz Honor, and My Beijing: Four Stories of Everyday Wonder by Nie Jun picked up a Mildred L. Batchelder Honor.
Mary McCoy’s Printz Honor for I, Claudia
Mary McCoy’s young adult novel I, Claudia follows a young politician at a prestigious high school. Claudia never expected to be thrust into the political limelight at Imperial Day Academy, but she discovers that power can be intoxicating . . . and that her prestigious school has some dark secrets. A page-turning novel of political intrigue, I, Claudia is loosely based on the novel I, Claudius by Richard Graves.
Mary McCoy discovered she had won a Printz Honor while at work. “I’m a librarian, and I was digging through boxes of old art auction records in the closed stacks. And then I got back to my office, and discovered that there were a lot of very urgent messages on my phone!
“As soon as the Printz committee told me the news, I burst into happy tears. The ALA Youth Media Awards are like the Oscars for librarians–I watch the webcast every year, and to find out that I, Claudia was going to be honored was the most exhilarating, gobsmacking experience imaginable.”
“The ALA Youth Media Awards are like the Oscars for librarians.”
Mary began drafting after learning about the events leading up to Watergate. “Many of the people who helped Richard Nixon sabotage his opponents in the 1972 presidential election and coordinate the Watergate break-in had gotten their start doing the same thing in student elections at the University of Southern California. Stealing elections was like a game to them, and because nobody stopped them, they kept doing it on bigger and bigger political stages.
“I was working on this book during the 2016 presidential election, and so those dynamics of corruption, sexism, and bullying came into play as well, and tinged the characters in ways I think readers will be able to recognize.”
But, unlike Richard Nixon’s cronies, Claudia seeks to work for good. “Claudia isn’t perfect, and she’s at her worst when she treats politics like a game. However, at her best, what makes Claudia a great politician is that she knows how to enact practical changes that make her school a better place. She talks about herself like she’s an outcast, but the truth is, Claudia can hang with the newspaper staff, the theater kids, and the Model U.N., as well as her school’s power elite. She doesn’t play favorites–Claudia tries to do right by everyone.
“If Claudia found out about the Printz Honor, she’d probably say something self-deprecating, put her head down on her desk, and worry about how it could all go wrong.
“However, as her creator, I’ll advise her to knock it off, channel her inner FDR-JFK-Obama charm, and offer a heartfelt thank you instead.”
Awards, accolades, and more for I, Claudia
- 2019 Michael L. Printz Honor Book
- ★”Smart, witty, and featuring an unforgettable (and possibly unreliable) narrator, as well as a seamless stream of political history, the audience that finds this novel will be unable to put it down.”—starred, Booklist
- ★”[A] gripping political thriller . . . about power, corruption, and the choices we make both for ourselves and the ones we love.”—starred, Kirkus Reviews
- Booklist Editor’s Choice
- Kirkus Reviews Best Teen Books of the Year
- Read Mary’s list of top unreliable narrators that was posted on the BNTeen Blog last fall.
My Beijing by Nie Jun receives Batchelder Honor
Written and illustrated by Nie Jun and translated into English by Edward Gauvin, My Beijing: Four Stories of Everyday Wonder follows a young girl and her grandfather as they explore the wonder of everyday life in a hutong (traditional neighborhood) in Beijing.
In one tale, Yu’er wants to swim in the Special Olympics, a sports competition for people with disabilities. But she and her grandpa don’t have a pool! Their trick to help Yu’er practice wows the whole neighborhood. In another story, a friend takes Yu’er to a wild place full of musical insects. Later, Yu’er hears a special story about her grandparents. And in the final story, Yu’er and her grandpa show a cranky painter the sweet side of life.
Awards, accolades, and more for My Beijing
- 2019 Mildred L. Batchelder Honor Book
- ★”Jun’s exquisite graphics . . . offer nonstop merriment and whimsical delight.”—starred, Booklist
- “The stories move gracefully between reality and fantasy, a bit like Miyazaki movies, but sweeter.”—The New York Times Book Review
- New York Times Notable Children’s Book
- New York Public Library Best Books for Kids
- View sketches and photos that inspired My Beijing.
- Read BLOOM’s interview with Nie Jun.
More details about these honors are included in our press release.