Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, January 26, 2002

Korean American writer wins Newbery Medal for first time

By Deirdre Donahue
USA Today

For the first time, a Korean American writer is the winner of the most prestigious award in children's literature. Linda Sue Park's "A Single Shard" (Clarion, $15) won the John Newbery Medal last week at an American Library Association's meeting in New Orleans.

David Wiesner won the Randolph Caldecott Medal for the illustrations in "The Three Pigs" (Clarion, $16), a picture book that cleverly retells the famous porcine fairy tale, his second Caldecott Award. He won for "Tuesday" in 1992.

The daughter of Korean immigrants, Park grew up outside Chicago, speaking only English. She lives now in Rochester, NY.

"A Single Shard," Park's third novel, is set in 12th-century Korea and depicts the struggle of an impoverished but spirited orphan called Tree-ear to follow his dream of becoming a master potter of celadon ware. It is geared for readers ages 9 to 13. All of Park's novels have been set in Korea. Her novel "When My Name Was Keoko" will be published in March and deals with World War II.

With "A Step From Heaven" (Front Street, $15.95), another Korean American writer, An Na, won the Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature for young adults. Na grew up in San Diego. Her novel tells the story of an immigrant girl trying to find her way in America.

The Newbery and Caldecott medals are often called the Academy Awards for children's literature. The winning books will remain in print for generations, Fiore says. And they are often translated and published abroad.

Among other winners announced last week at the American Library Association's midwinter meeting:

Newbery Medal books

  • "Everything on a Waffle" by Polly Horvath.
  • "Carver: A Life in Poems" by Marilyn Nelson.

Caldecott Medal books

  • "Martin's Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.," illustrator Bryan Collier, writer Doreen Rappaport.
  • "The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins: An Illuminating History of Mr. Waterhouse Hawkins, Artist and Lecturer," illustrated by Brian Selznick, written by Barbara Kerley.
  • "The Stray Dog," illustrated and written by Marc Simont (HarperCollins).

Coretta Scott King awards
(African American authors and illustrators of outstanding books for children and young adults)

  • Mildred D. Taylor, author of "The Land" (Penguin Putnam).
  • Jerry Pinkney, illustrator of "Goin' Someplace Special" (Atheneum Books).
  • Jerome Lagarrigue, illustrator of "Freedom Summer" (Atheneum Books), recognized with the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award. The book was written by Deborah Wiles.