Since their beginning in 1967, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards celebrate notable titles in children’s books, middle grade and young adult novels. The books are sorted into the categories of picture books, fiction and poetry and nonfiction, and then reviewed by a panel of three judges. This year, the judges were Sujei Lugo, Leo Landry and Julie Danielson. In its first-ever virtual ceremony, Roger Sutton, editor-in-chief of Horn Book, announced the award-winning titles and honor recipients in each category.

Here are the 2020 Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Winners:

PICTURE BOOKS

Saturday
Written and illustrated by Oge Mora

Saturday (Little, Brown) is the story of a little girl and her mother who are looking forward to having a special day out on the town. But it seems luck isn’t on their side — everything seems to be going wrong, and all their plans start to unravel! This story reminds us that a less-than-perfect day can still be great fun, and that the most important time is when we’re together.

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Pokko and the Drum
Written and illustrated by Matthew Forsythe

In Pokko and the Drum (Paula Wiseman Books), a family of frogs live in their cozy mushroom home. When Pokko’s parents give her a drum as a present, they don’t anticipate all the noise she’ll end up making. They certainly didn’t anticipate the fact that Pokko would start a band of animals marching through the woods! This book reminds us to encourage children to explore their own creativity and embrace exciting new experiences.

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Birdsong
Written and illustrated by Julie Flett

Birdsong (Greystone Kids) by Julie Flett cycles through a year in the life of our main character, who’s just moved to a new town. She befriends her elderly neighbor, but soon must navigate her new friend’s failing health and the changes it brings. Julie Flett uses lush natural imagery to illustrate this sensitive and meaningful story, which includes a guide to Cree-Métis words used within the text.

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FICTION AND POETRY

King and the Dragonflies
by Kacen Callender

Kacen Callender’s King and the Dragonflies (Scholastic) tells the story of King, a twelve-year-old with his life in flux. King is still reeling from the sudden death of his older brother Khalid, his family’s lingering grief and the recent disappearance of his friend Sandy. In the midst of everything, King tries to process these losses in his dreams, where Khalid comes to visit him in the form of a dragonfly, fluttering above the Louisiana bayou. King and the Dragonflies tells the story of a child navigating an adult world, and can help children process the struggles in their own lives.

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Clap When You Land
by Elizabeth Acevedo

Clap When You Land (Quill Tree) by Elizabeth Acevedo is the story of two girls, Camino and Yahaira Rios. The two of them are separated by thousands of miles, with Camino in the Dominican Republic, while Yahaira lives in New York City. In fact, they don’t even know the other exists until their father dies in a plane crash. As Camino and Yahaira both wrestle with their loss, they each learn of the secrets their father had been keeping. Clap When You Land tells a story of the complexity of grief, and how it can bring us together in the most unexpected of ways.

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When You Trap a Tiger
by Tae Keller

When You Trap a Tiger (Random House) tells the story of Lily, whose family has just moved in to help her ailing grandmother, or halmoni. Lily’s halmoni had told her about the magical tigers in folktales — they were immensely powerful, but not to be trusted. But when one of the tigers approaches Lily and offers her a trade for Halmoni’s health, what is Lily supposed to do? Tae Keller blends Korean folktales with the tale of a young girl trying to navigate her family’s ever-looming loss. 

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NONFICTION

Infinite Hope: A Black Artist’s Journey from World War II to Peace
Written and illustrated by Ashley Bryan

Infinite Hope: A Black Artist’s Journey from World War II to Peace (Caitlyn Dlouhy Books) is a stunning autobiographical memoir of the horrors faced by black soldiers in World War II. In the year of 1942, 18-year-old Ashley Bryan was drafted just after being accepted to college. For the next three years, he must face not only the horrors of the war itself, but the racism within the segregated US forces. Bryan uses his evocative art, paired with newspaper clippings, photographs and other documentation, to create a stunning multi-media depiction of the monumental struggles he faced. 

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Ordinary Hazards: A Memoir
by Nikki Grimes

In her memoir from Wordsong, Nikki Grimes tells the harrowing tale of her childhood. Raised by a mother with untreated mental illness and a father who is rarely there to help, Grimes is pushed upon babysitters, caretakers, foster homes and forced to look out for herself. In the midst of this turmoil, she finds one constant source of release — her notebooks full of writing. These notebooks accompany her through her journey, and see her through the highest and lowest moments. 

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It Began With a Page: How Gyo Fujikawa Drew the Way
Written by Kyo Maclear, illustrated by Julie Morstad

This nonfiction picture book from Harper tells the story of Gyo Fujikawa, an artist, activist and source of inspiration. Fujikawa had always dreamed of being an artist, but that dream seems impossible when her family is forced into a Japanese internment camp. In spite of hardships, Fujikawa works hard to stand up for herself and her family, and strives to depict diversity and representation in her art regardless of what others think of her. This book takes us through the captivating story of a woman who rose above fear and prejudice to have an impact on the way we saw the world.

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