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Children's book awards

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The American Library Association announced the winners of a number of prizes for children's literature Monday in Boston. Considered the "Academy Awards" of children's book publishing, the top honors - particularly the Newbery and Caldecott medals - generate intense interest from libraries, schools, and parents, in addition to ensuring that the winners will remain in print for many years.

Two lifetime achievement awards were also conferred. Francesca Lia Block received the Margaret A. Edwards Award and Laurence Yep received the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal.

For more information about all the ALA prizes, go to www.ala.org.

Newbery Medal

Kira-Kira, by Cynthia Kadohata, Atheneum Books, $15.95 (ages 9-12).

In this tender novel, two sisters lie on their backs, watching the stars and repeating the Japanese word for "glittering" (kira-kira). The story describes a loving Japanese-American family from the point of view of the younger sister. Personal challenges and family tragedy, particularly the older sister's struggle with lymphoma, are set against the oppressive social climate of the South during the 1950s and early 1960s.

Caldecott Medal

Kitten's First Full Moon, written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes, Greenwillow Books, $15.99 (ages 4-8).

Henke's black-and-white illustrations with rose undertones tell a simple story about a kitten who mistakes the moon for a bowl of milk. Kitten ventures out to taste the big saucer in the sky, but can't quite make it. At the return home, all is well. The moon, the flowers, the fireflies' lights, and the kitten's eyes repeat the circle motif for young children just learning the wonder of objects.

Coretta Scott King Award/Author

Remember: The Journey of School Integration, by Toni Morrison, Houghton Mifflin, $18 (ages 9-12).

Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison uses more than 50 archival photographs, many of children, to take readers on a journey to remember "the narrow path, the open door and the wide road" to integration of American schools before and after the Supreme Court's Brown v. Board decision in 1954.

Coretta Scott King Award/Illustrator

Ellington Was Not a Street, illustrated by Kadir Nelson, written by Ntozake Shange, Simon & Schuster, $15.95 (ages 9-12).

Nelson evokes the feelings of a family album in the rich, deep-toned oil paintings of this book, which provides a tribute to the legendry African- Americans of the Harlem Renaissance. Shange's poem "Mood Indigo" (1983) serves as the text. Brief biographical sketches at the end provide direction for further discovery.

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