We suggest: 2021 award winners

By Collection Management Librarian Dontaná McPherson-Joseph

This year, we’ll take any reason to celebrate! But this year’s book award season was one we’re still buzzing over—with historic wins and really good titles for all ages. Here are some of the year’s winning titles, all written by women.

2021 award-winning titles by women


Fathoms: The World in the Whale by Rebecca Giggs

Why you should try it: Winner of the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction, this exploration of whales will give you a new appreciation for these majestic creatures.

Description: Blending together natural history, philosophy, and science, this stunning meditation on the extraordinary lives of whales takes readers on an exploration of the natural world to reveal what whales can teach us about ourselves, our planet and our relationship to other species.

Audience: Adults

Stream & download withMedia on Demand/Libby (ebook)

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When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller

Why you should try it: Winner of both the John Newbery Medal and the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, Keller’s novel sees a young girl come to understand the power of stories.

Description: Moving with her parents into the home of her sick grandmother, young Lily forges a complicated pact with a magical tiger, in a story inspired by Korean folktales.

Stream & download withMedia on Demand/Libby (ebook & digital audiobook)

Audience: Kids

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We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom and Michaela Goade

Why you should read it: Winner of the Randolph Caldecott Medal, this marks the first time a Native American illustrator has been honored with this award. Michaela Goade is an enrolled member of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska.

“A seriously insightful story!” says Megha, Children’s Services Library Assistant.

Description: When a black snake threatens to destroy the earth, one young water protector takes a stand to defend the planet’s water, in a tale inspired by the many indigenous-led conservation movements across North America.

Stream & download withMedia on Demand/Libby (ebook)

Audience: Kids

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Before the Ever After by Jacqueline Woodson

Why you should try it: Winner of the Coretta Scott King (Author) Award, Jacqueline Woodson is a literary force of nature, having written for all ages, though mainly for children.

Description: The son of an idolized pro-football star begins noticing the contrast between his father’s angry, forgetful behavior and his superhero reputation before adjusting to a new reality involving difficult symptoms stemming from his father’s numerous head injuries.

Stream & download withMedia on Demand/Libby (ebook & digital audiobook)

Audience: Kids

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Legendborn by Tracy Deonn

Why you should try it: Winner of the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award, this novel of literal Black girl magic expertly blends Arthurian legend with current times.

Description: Wanting to escape her previous life after the accidental death of her mother, 16-year-old Bree enrolls in a program for high school students at the local university before her witness to a magical attack reveals her undiscovered powers, as well as sinister truths about her mother’s death.

Stream & download with: Media on Demand/Libby (ebook & digital audiobook)

Audience: Teens

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We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry

Why you should try it: One of ten Alex Award winners, celebrating adult books that teens can read and enjoy, this novel of girl power and resilience is a great read for everyone.

Description: Nearly three centuries after their coastal community’s witch trials, the women athletes of the 1989 Danvers Falcons hockey team combine individual and collective talents with 1980s iconography to storm their way to the state finals.

Stream & download with: Media on Demand/Libby (ebook)

Audience: Adults & teens

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You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

Why you should try it: Despite some heavy topics, this Stonewall Book Awards – Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Childrens’ & Young Adult Literature honor book is a joy to read.

“Such a fun contemporary teen novel that focuses on inclusivity, anxiety, queer narratives, and chronic illness, and while that all sounds heavy this novel unfolds like a gift to be savored,” says Rose, Adult Services Librarian.

Description: A Black, underprivileged misfit from a wealthy, prom-obsessed Midwestern community carefully plans to attend a prestigious medical college before the unexpected loss of her financial aid forces her to compete for her school’s prom-queen scholarship.

Stream & download withHoopla (digital audiobook), Media on Demand/Libby (ebook, digital audiobook)

Audience: Teens

Find all available formats in the catalog »

Librarian Dontaná McPherson-Joseph

About Dontaná

Dontaná is a Collection Management Librarian who was born with an unending reading list. She is almost always reading two books simultaneously and is easily distracted by cool covers.

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