HomeBooks by AgeAges 4-8John Newbery Medal Award-Winning Kids’ Books 2021
John Newbery Medal Award-Winning Kids' Books 2021

John Newbery Medal Award-Winning Kids’ Books 2021

John Newbery Medal 2021 Award Winners
The Children’s Book Review

Each year, the American Library Association (ALA) announces the John Newbery medal, the award given to the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature. Here is the list of 2021 award winners:

The John Newbery Medal Winner

When You Trap a Tiger

Written by Tae Keller

Ages 8-12 | 304 Pages

Publisher : Random House Books for Young Readers | ISBN-13 : 978-1524715700

Publisher’s Synopsis: Would you make a deal with a magical tiger? This uplifting story brings brings Korean folklore to life as a girl goes on a quest to unlock the power of stories and save her grandmother.

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.

Tae Keller, the award-winning author of The Science of Breakable Things, shares a sparkling tale about the power of stories and the magic of family. Think Walk Two Moons meets Where the Mountain Meets the Moon!

Buy the Book

Buy on AmazonBuy on AudibleBuy on Bookshop

The John Newbery Honor Books

All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys’ Soccer Team

Written by Christina Soontornvat

Ages 8-12 | 288 Pages

Publisher: Candlewick | ISBN-13 : 978-1536209457

Publisher’s Synopsis: A unique account of the amazing Thai cave rescue told in a heart-racing, you-are-there style that blends suspense, science, and cultural insight.

On June 23, 2018, twelve young players of the Wild Boars soccer team and their coach enter a cave in northern Thailand seeking an afternoon’s adventure. But when they turn to leave, rising floodwaters block their path out. The boys are trapped! Before long, news of the missing team spreads, launching a seventeen-day rescue operation involving thousands of rescuers from around the globe. As the world sits vigil, people begin to wonder: how long can a group of ordinary kids survive in complete darkness, with no food or clean water? Luckily, the Wild Boars are a very extraordinary “ordinary” group. Combining firsthand interviews of rescue workers with in-depth science and details of the region’s culture and religion, author Christina Soontornvat—who was visiting family in Northern Thailand when the Wild Boars went missing—masterfully shows how both the complex engineering operation above ground and the mental struggles of the thirteen young people below proved critical in the life-or-death mission. Meticulously researched and generously illustrated with photographs, this page-turner includes an author’s note describing her experience meeting the team, detailed source notes, and a bibliography to fully immerse readers in the most ambitious cave rescue in history.

Buy the Book

Buy on AmazonBuy on AudibleBuy on Bookshop

BOX: Henry Brown Mails Himself to Freedom

Written by Carole Boston Weatherford

Illustrated by Michele Wood

Ages 10-15 | 56 Pages

Publisher: Candlewick | ISBN-13 : 978-0763691561

Publisher’s Synopsis: In a moving, lyrical tale about the cost and fragility of freedom, a New York Times best-selling author and an acclaimed artist follow the life of a man who courageously shipped himself out of slavery.

What have I to fear?
My master broke every promise to me.
I lost my beloved wife and our dear children.
All, sold South. Neither my time nor my body is mine.
The breath of life is all I have to lose.
And bondage is suffocating me.

Henry Brown wrote that long before he came to be known as Box, he “entered the world a slave.” He was put to work as a child and passed down from one generation to the next — as property. When he was an adult, his wife and children were sold away from him out of spite. Henry Brown watched as his family left bound in chains, headed to the deeper South. What more could be taken from him? But then hope — and help — came in the form of the Underground Railroad. Escape!

In stanzas of six lines each, each line representing one side of a box, celebrated poet Carole Boston Weatherford powerfully narrates Henry Brown’s story of how he came to send himself in a box from slavery to freedom. Strikingly illustrated in rich hues and patterns by artist Michele Wood, Box is augmented with historical records and an introductory excerpt from Henry’s own writing as well as a time line, notes from the author and illustrator, and a bibliography.

Buy the Book

Buy on AmazonBuy on AudibleBuy on Bookshop

Fighting Words

Written by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Ages 10-14 | 272 Pages

Publisher: Dial Books | ISBN-13 : 978-1984815682

Publisher’s Synopsis: Ten-tear-old Della has always had her older sister, Suki: When their mom went to prison, Della had Suki. When their mom’s boyfriend took them in, Della had Suki. When that same boyfriend did something so awful they had to run fast, Della had Suki. Suki is Della’s own wolf–her protector. But who has been protecting Suki? Della might get told off for swearing at school, but she has always known how to keep quiet where it counts. Then Suki tries to kill herself, and Della’s world turns so far upside down, it feels like it’s shaking her by the ankles. Maybe she’s been quiet about the wrong things. Maybe it’s time to be loud.

In this powerful novel that explodes the stigma around child sexual abuse and leavens an intense tale with compassion and humor, Kimberly Brubaker Bradley tells a story about two sisters, linked by love and trauma, who must find their own voices before they can find their way back to each other.

Buy the Book

Buy on AmazonBuy on AudibleBuy on Bookshop

We Dream of Space

Written and Illustrated by Erin Entrada Kelly

Illustrated by Celia Krampien

Ages 8-12 | 400 Pages

Publisher: Greenwillow Books | ISBN-13: 978-0062747303

Publisher’s Synopsis: Newbery Medalist and New York Times–bestselling author Erin Entrada Kelly transports readers to 1986 and introduces them to the unforgettable Cash, Fitch, and Bird Thomas in this pitch-perfect middle grade novel about family, friendship, science, and exploration. A great choice for readers of Kate DiCamillo, Rita Williams-Garcia, and Rebecca Stead.

Great for summer reading or anytime! A Today show pick for “25 children’s books your kids and teens won’t be able to put down this summer!”

Cash, Fitch, and Bird Thomas are three siblings in seventh grade together in Park, Delaware. In 1986, as the country waits expectantly for the launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger, they each struggle with their own personal anxieties.

Cash, who loves basketball but has a newly broken wrist, is in danger of failing seventh grade for the second time. Fitch spends every afternoon playing Major Havoc at the arcade on Main and wrestles with an explosive temper that he doesn’t understand. And Bird, his twelve-year-old twin, dreams of being NASA’s first female shuttle commander, but feels like she’s disappearing. 

The Thomas children exist in their own orbits, circling a tense and unpredictable household, with little in common except an enthusiastic science teacher named Ms. Salonga. As the launch of the Challenger approaches, Ms. Salonga gives her students a project—they are separated into spacecraft crews and must create and complete a mission. When the fated day finally arrives, it changes all of their lives and brings them together in unexpected ways.

Told in three alternating points of view, We Dream of Space is an unforgettable and thematically rich novel for middle grade readers.

We Dream of Space is illustrated throughout by the author.

Buy the Book

Buy on AmazonBuy on AudibleBuy on Bookshop

A Wish in the Dark

Written by Christina Soontornvat

Ages 8-12 | 384 Pages

Publisher: Candlewick | ISBN-13: 978-1536204940

Publisher’s Synopsis: A boy on the run. A girl determined to find him. A compelling fantasy looks at issues of privilege, protest, and justice.

All light in Chattana is created by one man — the Governor, who appeared after the Great Fire to bring peace and order to the city. For Pong, who was born in Namwon Prison, the magical lights represent freedom, and he dreams of the day he will be able to walk among them. But when Pong escapes from prison, he realizes that the world outside is no fairer than the one behind bars. The wealthy dine and dance under bright orb light, while the poor toil away in darkness. Worst of all, Pong’s prison tattoo marks him as a fugitive who can never be truly free.

Nok, the prison warden’s perfect daughter, is bent on tracking Pong down and restoring her family’s good name. But as Nok hunts Pong through the alleys and canals of Chattana, she uncovers secrets that make her question the truths she has always held dear. Set in a Thai-inspired fantasy world, Christina Soontornvat’s twist on Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables is a dazzling, fast-paced adventure that explores the difference between law and justice — and asks whether one child can shine a light in the dark.

Buy the Book

Buy on AmazonBuy on AudibleBuy on Bookshop

John Newbery Medal Award-Winning Kids’ Books 2021: Follow along with our articles and reviews tagged with award-winners, to discover more great titles just like these ones.

How You Support The Children's Book Review
We may receive a small commission from purchases made via the links on this page. If you discover a book or product of interest on this page and use the links provided to make a purchase, you will help support our mission to 'Grow Readers.' Your support means we can keep delivering quality content that's available to all. Thank you!

Bianca Schulze is the founder of The Children’s Book Review. She is a reader, reviewer, mother and children’s book lover. She also has a decade’s worth of experience working with children in the great outdoors. Combined with her love of books and experience as a children’s specialist bookseller, the goal is to share her passion for children’s literature to grow readers. Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, she now lives with her husband and three children near Boulder, Colorado.

No Comments

Leave A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.