Children and Teen
Each year, the most prestigious honor in children’s literature is the Newbery Award, and a couple of books are proclaimed Newbery Honor books. Appalachian authors have a very distinguished record in garnering these prizes! In 1950, Rebecca Caudill (1899-1985) who was born in Harlan County, Kentucky, had a Newbery Honor book entitled Tree of Freedom. In 1959, Perilous Road by William O. Steele (1917-1979) of Chattanooga became a Newbery Honor book. In 1969 Where the Lilies Bloom became the first Appalachian Children’s book to be awarded a Newbery Metal. It was written by Bill (1920-1981) and Vera (b. 1919) Cleaver who lived in Franklin, North Carolina. In 1970 Sounder by William H. Armstrong (1911-1999), who was born in Lexington, Virginia, won the Newbery and Mary Q. Steele of Chattanooga had a Newbery Honor Book – Journey Outside. For the third straight year, 1971, the Newbery went to a Southern Appalachian book, Summer of the Swans by Betsy Byars (b. 1928) who was inspired to write about the region from her time living in Morgantown, West Virginia. In 1975 M.C. Higgins the Great by Virginia Hamilton (1934-2002), a youth novel about an African-American kid who protested strip mining, won. Katherine Patterson (b. 1932) who lived in Virginia near the Blue Ridge won 1978 Newbery Award for Bridge to Terabithia and again in 1981 she won it for Jacob Have I Loved. In 1988 Cynthia Rylant (b. 1954) who lived as a child with her grandparents in Raleigh County, West Virginia, had a Newbery Honor book, A Fine White Dust. In 1992, Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (b. 1933) won the Newbery for Shiloh, inspired by her husband’s West Virginia roots. The next year, Cynthia Rylant won the Newbery for Missing May. In 1997 Ruth White (b. 1942) of the Virginia coalfields was awarded a Newbery Honor for Belle Prather’s Boy, and in 1995 Sharon Creech of Appalachian Ohio won the Newbery for Walk Two Moons.
-- George Brosi