Erin Entrada Kelly: 2018 Newbery Medal Winner

photo: Laurence Kesterson

Erin Entrada Kelly was named the 2018 Newbery Medal winner for the most outstanding contribution to children's literature, announced earlier this week at ALA Midwinter in Denver, Colo. Her novel Hello, Universe is published by Greenwillow Books. A full list of the winners can be found here.

First off, congratulations! We all know it's an early morning call--were you awake? How did you respond?

I was driving down I-95 in Philly traffic, so thankfully I was wide awake!

I woke up at 8 a.m. with no phone calls, so I got dressed and assumed I would just go forth into my Monday as usual, which begins with drinking as much coffee as humanly possible. I was in my car, wondering who won the Newbery and secretly rooting for some of my favorite books of the year (specifically, See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng), when I got a message from my editor at around 9:30 a.m. It was only three words: "Where are you?" I said: "In my car. Where should I be!?" (This was all hands-free, by the way. #Safety.) She said I'd be getting a phone call soon and I needed to pick up. A few minutes later--the longest few minutes of my life, by the way--the committee called and told me the news. Apparently, they had been trying to reach me for a while. I was in total shock. I believe my first words were: "Wait. What?" I may have said "What?" about 500 times. They were kind enough to repeat themselves. I may have also said "I'm on 95!" I'm not sure why I felt it was necessary to share that information, but I didn't have control over my words at the time. Or now.

Did you have any inkling (or hope) that you might be in consideration for this award?

Hope? Yes. But I approach inklings with caution. Anything can happen in these situations. I was just happy that people considered it buzzworthy. To actually win is incredible. 

With this award will come a larger platform. Is there something you'd like to do or a cause you'd like to promote now that you have that wider reach?

Kindness. Perseverance. And the power of the small, quiet and mighty. --Siân Gaetano, children's and YA editor, Shelf Awareness

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