King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender just won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature at the 71st Annual National Book Awards presented by the National Book Foundation! This is one of the most prestigious literary awards in the United States and has been since 1950. Callender’s novel was one of five finalists in the Young People’s Literature category and chosen by a five-person panel of judges. Though the ceremony is usually in-person, this year it was virtual, with host Jason Reynolds, and free for anyone to watch.
The National Book Awards wrote:
‘King and the Dragonflies’ hooks the reader from its first haunting sentence. Twelve-year-old King’s voice rings true and not a single line feels superfluous. Themes of toxic masculinity, racism, and self-discovery slowly come into focus as King himself begins to understand the layers of hurt and hope in this world. Kacen Callender has created a timeless story that is painfully timely–one that will lodge in your gut and grow.
You can watch the entire awards ceremony below and be sure to see Callender’s category, presented by the chair of the category, Joan Trygg, and acceptance speech from 1:11:04 to 11:17:38.