ALA Annual 2023

Newbery-Caldecott-Legacy Banquet at #alaac23

Program has picture of beach and ocean with sun overhead. Warm colors are used. The text says The Newbery Caldecott Legacy Awards Banquet.

One of my favorite events at Annual is the Newbery-Caldecott-Legacy Banquet. This year’s banquet at #alaac23 was inspiring! After a welcome from 2022-2023 American Library Services for Children (ALSC) President, Amy Koester, mingling, and dinner, it was the moment everyone had been waiting for…

Caldecott Medal

Caldecott winner Doug Salati (Hot Dog) began by saying that he is a better illustrator than author and a better listener than talker. The banquet audience would disagree–Salati’s speech was both inspiring and touching.

Salati recognized 5 gifts he has received that allowed him to create Hot Dog:

  1. the Gift of Storytelling–he talked about how his mother, who was a public school teacher, read him stacks of books from the library
  2. the Gift of Space–in 2015, Salati was selected to be a Sendak Fellow so got to spend four weeks living and working away from the distractions of daily life…while learning from greats like Tomie dePaola
  3. the Gift of Process–creating books is a long process that involves notes, drafts, revisions, collaboration, and research–a lifelong passion and commitment
  4. the Gift of Community–Salati acknowledged those who have inspired him
  5. the Gift of Relationships–Salati talked about his friends, agent, family, and partner. Salati has given us all the gift of his story and illustrations.

Salati has given us all the gift of his story and illustrations.

Newbery Medal

Amina Luqman-Dawson accepted the Newbery medal for Freewater. Excitedly, she began her speech with, “Let’s Do This!” and went on to acknowledge that history had been made as her editor Alexandra Hightower is now the first African American editor of a Newbery-winning book. Luqman-Dawson talked about how she wants Freewater to be a work of restoration.

Her hope is that our nation’s enslaved ancestors find a place in our “historic imagination.” (She explained that the historic imagination is our subconscious understanding of history–the images that we subconsciously think of when we hear certain words such as “cowboy.”) So, Luqman-Dawons called on us to expand our imagination and be more thoughtful so that when we think of an enslaved child, we can be inspired by them. She concluded by saying that today we are witnessing voices being erased from our libraries and classrooms, so Freewater is the “right book at the right time.”

Legacy Award

As the evening came to an end, James E. Ransome accepted the Legacy Award for his body of work. He stressed that this was for his work “so far” and assured us that he is not done yet. He has plans, ideas, (and contracts!) In his speech, Ransome talked about the power of books, art, and words. Stories connect people. Ransome said that the evening was bittersweet because Jerry Pinkney was not there to see him win this award. He explained that Pinkney was like a father to him and that he misses him dearly. He ended his speech by thanking Pinkney for being a model for his illustration career.

The Newbery-Caldecott-Legacy banquet always inspires me and reinvigorates me. There is so much love and joy in that room. It reminds us why we are here…to share stories, information, empathy, and love.

*To hear the complete acceptance speeches from this year and past years, you can download them from ALA’s website at: https://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/bookmedia/NCLBanquetRecordings. (At the time of publication of this post, the 2023 speeches have not yet been posted.)


Today’s guest contributor is Soline Holmes (she/her/hers). Soline is a librarian and the Information Services Department chair at Academy of the Sacred Heart in New Orleans, Louisiana. She is a Member-at-Large (and the incoming Secretary) for ALA’s Graphic Novels and Comics Roundtable and a member of ALSC’s Children and Libraries Editorial Advisory Committee. She also serves on the Louisiana Young Readers Choice Award committees for K-2 and 3-5, is a board member of the New Orleans Information Literacy Collective (2021-22 Chair), and is a Teaching with Primary Sources Network Mentor. She has given presentations on graphic novels, Mother Goose and STEM, Primary Sources, and Global Education at local and national conferences. At ALA, she is looking forward to some of her favorite events: the GNCRT Magical Tea and the Newbery/Caldecott/Legacy Banquet. At conference, you might be able to find her munching on red Twizzlers.


Please note that as a guest post, the views expressed here do not represent the official position of ALA or ALSC.

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