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2021 Youth Media Award Winners

We are thrilled to announce that 59 JLG Gold Standard Selections are among the 2021 Youth Media Awards winning and honored titles! At JLG, our goal is to help librarians around the nation put ultra-readable, future classics in the hands of their readers.

JLG members—add these acclaimed YMA titles to you collection today!

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      Efrén Divided

      by Ernesto Cisneros

      Jul 2020

      Realistic Fiction Middle Plus

      Efrén Nava’s Amá is his Superwoman—or Soperwoman, named after the delicious Mexican sopes his mother often prepares. Both Amá and Apá work hard all day to provide for the family, making sure Efrén and his younger siblings Max and Mía feel safe and loved.

      But Efrén worries about his parents; although he’s American-born, his parents are undocumented. His worst nightmare comes true one day when Amá doesn’t return from work and is deported across the border to Tijuana, Mexico.

      Now, more than ever, Efrén must channel his inner Soperboy to help take care of and hopefully reunite his family.

      Show Me a Sign

      by Ann Clare LeZotte

      Jul 2020

      Upper Elementary & Junior High Plus

      Mary Lambert has always felt safe and protected on her beloved island of Martha's Vineyard. Her great-great-grandfather was an early English settler and the first deaf islander. Now, over a hundred years later, many people there—including Mary—are deaf, and nearly everyone can communicate in sign language. Mary has never felt isolated. She is proud of her lineage.

      But recent events have delivered winds of change. Mary's brother died, leaving her family shattered. Tensions over land disputes are mounting between English settlers and the Wampanoag people. And a cunning young scientist has arrived, hoping to discover the origin of the island's prevalent deafness. His maniacal drive to find answers soon renders Mary a "live specimen" in a cruel experiment. Her struggle to save herself is at the core of this penetrating and poignant novel that probes our perceptions of ability and disability. It will make you forever question your own ideas about what is normal.

      Clap When You Land

      by Elizabeth Acevedo

      Jul 2020

      High-Interest High Plus

      Camino Rios lives for the summers, when her father visits her in the Dominican Republic. But this year, on the day when his plane is supposed to land, Camino arrives at the airport to see crowds of crying people…

      In New York City, Yahaira Rios is called to the principal’s office, where her mother is waiting to tell her that her father, her hero, has died in a plane crash.

      Separated by distance—and Papi’s secrets—the two girls are forced to face a new reality in which their father is dead and their lives are forever altered.

      And then, when it seems like they’ve lost everything of their father, they learn of each other.

      You Call This Democracy?: How to Fix Our Government and Deliver Power to the People

      by Elizabeth Rusch

      Jun 2020

      Nonfiction High Plus

      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 power to change lies with the citizens of this great country. Sharing multiple success stories from across the country of people young and old who have made changes to voting policy and structure, and wrapping up with a thorough "what to do now, and how" summary, Rusch has given politically charged readers who are tired of wondering why things aren't better a handbook on how to make it better, starting NOW!

      The Blackbird Girls

      by Anne Blankman

      Jun 2020

      Realistic Fiction Middle Plus

      On a spring morning, neighbors Valentina Kaplan and Oksana Savchenko wake up to an angry red sky. A reactor at the nuclear power plant where their fathers work—Chernobyl—has exploded. Before they know it, the two girls, who’ve always been enemies, find themselves on a train bound for Leningrad to stay with Valentina’s estranged grandmother, Rita Grigorievna. In their new lives in Leningrad, they begin to learn what it means to trust another person. Oksana must face the lies her parents told her all her life. Valentina must keep her grandmother’s secret, one that could put all their lives in danger. And both of them discover something they’ve wished for: a best friend. But how far would you go to save your best friend’s life? Would you risk your own?

      Told in alternating perspectives among three girls—Valentina and Oksana in 1986 and Rifka in 1941—this story shows that hatred, intolerance, and oppression are no match for the power of true friendship.

      Prairie Lotus

      by Linda Sue Park

      May 2020

      Realistic Fiction Middle Plus

      Prairie Lotus is a powerful, touching, multi-layered book about a girl determined to fit in and realize her dreams: getting an education, becoming a dressmaker in her father's shop, and making at least one friend.

      Acclaimed, award-winning author Linda Sue Park has placed a young half-Asian girl, Hanna, in a small town in America's heartland, in 1880. Hanna's adjustment to her new surroundings, which primarily means negotiating the townspeople's almost unanimous prejudice against Asians, is at the heart of the story. Narrated by Hanna, the novel has poignant moments yet sparkles with humor, introducing a captivating heroine whose wry, observant voice will resonate with readers.

      The Rise and Fall of Charles Lindbergh

      by Candace Fleming

      May 2020

      Nonfiction High Plus

      First human to cross the Atlantic via airplane; one of the first American media sensations; Nazi sympathizer and anti-Semite; loner whose baby was kidnapped and murdered; champion of Eugenics, the science of improving a human population by controlled breeding; tireless environmentalist. Charles Lindbergh was all of the above and more.

      Here is a rich, multi-faceted, utterly spellbinding biography about an American hero who was also a deeply flawed man. In this time where values Lindbergh held, like white Nationalism and America First, are once again on the rise, THE RISE AND FALL OF CHARLES LINDBERGH is essential reading for teens and history fanatics alike.

      Catherine’s War

      by Julia Billet

      Apr 2020

      Graphic Novels Middle Plus

      At the Sèvres Children’s Home outside Paris, Rachel Cohen has discovered her passion—photography. Although she hasn’t heard from her parents in months, she loves the people at her school, adores capturing what she sees in pictures, and tries not to worry too much about Hitler’s war. But as France buckles under the Nazi Regime, danger closes in, and Rachel must change her name and go into hiding.

      As Catherine Colin, Rachel Cohen is faced with leaving the Sèvres Home—and the friends she made there—behind. But with her beautiful camera, Catherine possesses an object with the power to remember. For the rest of the war, Catherine bears witness to her own journey, and to the countless heroes whose courage and generosity saved the lives of many, including her own.

      Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera

      by Candace Fleming

      Apr 2020

      Nonfiction Early Elementary

      Beginning at birth, the honeybee emerges through the wax cap of her cell and is driven to protect and take care of her hive. She cleans the nursery and feeds the larvae and the queen. But is she strong enough to fly? Not yet! She builds wax comb to store honey, and transfers pollen from other bees into the storage. She defends the hive from invaders. Apis accomplishes all of this before beginning her life outdoors as an adventurer, seeking nectar to bring back to her hive.

      Get up close and personal with Apis, one honeybee, as she embarks on her journey through life, complete with exquisitely detailed illustrations.

      When You Trap a Tiger

      by Tae Keller

      Mar 2020

      Upper Elementary & Junior High

      Some stories refuse to stay bottled up…

      When Lily and her family move in with her sick grandmother, a magical tiger straight out of her halmoni’s Korean folktales arrives, prompting Lily to unravel a secret family history. Long, long ago, Halmoni stole something from the tigers. Now they want it back. And when one of the tigers approaches Lily with a deal—return what her grandmother stole in exchange for Halmoni’s health—Lily is tempted to agree. But deals with tigers are never what they seem! With the help of her sister and her new friend Ricky, Lily must find her voice…and the courage to face a tiger.

      Author’s note.

      Where’s Baby?

      by Anne Hunter

      Mar 2020

      Pre-Kindergarten Plus

      In this clever introduction to prepositions, a near-sighted Papa is looking for his baby. Is Baby up in the tree? Is Baby under the log? Is Baby around the corner? Where could Baby be?

      Readers will delight in spotting the little fox on every page as Papa wanders the forest, encountering other animals all along the way, but never quite able to spot his own baby. Anne Hunter’s delicate and lovely illustrations with their limited palette highlight the humor of this adorable hide-and-seek tale.

      Full-color illustrations were rendered in ball point pen and colored pencil.

      Paper Son: The Inspiring Story of Tyrus Wong, Immigrant and Artist

      by Julie Leung

      Feb 2020

      Biography Elementary Plus

      Before he became an artist named Tyrus Wong, he was a boy named Wong Geng Yeo. He traveled across a vast ocean from China to America with only a suitcase and a few papers. Not papers for drawing—which he loved to do—but immigration papers to start a new life. Once in America, Tyrus seized every opportunity to make art, eventually enrolling at an art institute in Los Angeles. Working as a janitor at night, his mop twirled like a paintbrush in his hands. Eventually, he was given the opportunity of a lifetime—and using sparse brushstrokes and soft watercolors, Tyrus created the iconic backgrounds of Bambi.

      Author’s note. Illustrator’s note. Photographs of Tyrus Wong. Full-color illustrations rendered digitally.
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