Clare Vanderpool won the 2011 Newbery Medal for her debut novel, Moon over Manifest (Delacorte/Random House), about 12-year-old Abilene Tucker, who visits her father’s hometown in 1936 Kansas. The Depression-era story line alternates with a narrative set during World War I, and the book is inspired by tales the author heard as a child. The Association of Booksellers for Children chose it as a 2010 New Voices Pick. The last time a debut novel received the Newbery Medal was 1980, when Joan Blos won for A Gathering of Days. Vanderpool is a former bookseller for Watermark Books, Wichita, Kan.
Erin E. Stead, a first-time illustrator, won the 2011 Caldecott Medal for A Sick Day for Amos McGee (Neal Porter/Roaring Brook/Macmillan); her husband, Philip C. Stead, wrote the text for the picture book. Elderly Amos McGee rides the bus to the zoo, where he plays chess with the elephant and spends time with his other animal friends. But when Amos falls ill, his zoo pals take the bus to visit him and lift his spirits. The most recent first-time illustrator to win a Caldecott Medal before this was David Diaz in 1995, for his work on Eve Bunting’s Smoky Night.