Hamline News

2020: A Good Year Professionally for MFAC Faculty and Alumni

White background. Book spines with two silver medals floating above.

Faculty and alumni from Hamline University’s Master of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults (MFAC) program had a productive and successful 2020, including major awards for two faculty members.

Faculty member Erin Entrada Kelly won a Newbery Honor Award for her novel, “We Dream of Space”. The novel was illustrated by Entrada Kelly and Celia Krampien and published in May 2020. The book follows a family of siblings in middle school in the weeks preceding the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster and afterward.

An award-winning author, Entrada Kelly’s “Hello Universe” won the 2018 Newbery Medal. Her writing has also been recognized with the 2017 APALA Award for “The Land of Forgotten Girls”, and the 2016 Golden Kite Honor Award for “Blackbird Fly”, among other honors.

Gene Yang won a Michael L. Printz Honor Award for his graphic novel, “Dragon Hoops”. This annual award honors the best book written for teens and young adults. In addition, Yang’s comic book, published in May 2020, “Superman Smashes the Clan”, illustrated by Gurihiru, was a Harvey Award winner.

Yang's work has received many awards. His graphic novel “American Born Chinese”, published in 2006 was the first graphic novel to be nominated for a National Book Award and the first to win the American Library Association’s Printz Award. It also won an Eisner Award for Best Graphic Album. Boxers & Saints, a graphic novel about the Boxer Rebellion was nominated for a National Book Award and won the L.A. Times Book Prize. In January 2016, the Library of Congress, Every Child A Reader, and the Children’s Book Council appointed Yang the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.

Hamline’s MFAC is one of only three nationwide programs devoted exclusively to writing for children and young adults. The next residency will be in July of 2021.

In addition to Kelly and Yang’s awards, a slew of MFAC-connnected books were published in 2020. They are listed below.

New Faculty Books

Elana K. Arnold's chapter book, “Starla Jean”, first of a series, illustrated by A.N. Kang, published in January 2021 by Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan Publishers.

Elana K. Arnold’s young adult (YA) novel, “Red Hood”, published in February 2020 by Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins Publishers.

Elana K. Arnold’s picture book, “An Ordinary Day”, published in March 2020 by Beach Lane Books/Simon and Schuster Publishing.

Eliot Schrefer’s middle-grade novel, “The Animal Rescue Agency #1: Case File: Little Claws”, first of a series, illustrated by Daniel Duncan, published in January 2021 by Katherine Tegan Books/HarperCollins Publishers. Already listed as an Amazon Best Book of the Month and a Junior Library Guild Selection.

Nina LaCour’s YA novel, “Watch Over Me”, published in September 2020 by Dutton Books for Young Readers.

Laura Ruby’s middle-grade novel, “York: The Map of Stars”, published in May 2020 by Walden Pond Press/HarperCollins Publishers.

Brandy Colbert’s middle-grade novel, “The Only Black Girls in Town”, published in March 2020 by Little Brown Books for Young Readers.

Brandy Colbert’s YA novel, “The Voting Booth”, published in July 2020 by Disney Press.

Sherri Smith’s YA novel, “The Blossom and the Firefly”, published in February 2020 by G. P. Putnam and Sons.

Sherri Smith’s middle-grade nonfiction book, “What Is the Civil Rights Movement?”, published in December 2021 by Penguin Workshop.

Meg Medina’s middle-grade novel, “Evelyn Del Ray Is Moving Away”, published in September 2020 by Candlewick Press.

New Alumni Books

Alicia D. Williams’ picture book, “Jump at the Sun, The True Life Tale of Unstoppable Storycatcher Zora Neale Hurston”, illustrated by Jacqueline Alcantara, published in January 2021 by Antheneum/Simon & Schuster.

Lily LaMotte’s graphic novel, “Measuring Up”, published in fall 2020 by Harper Alley/HarperCollins.

Molly Beth Griffin’s picture book, “Ten Beautiful Things”, illustrated by Maribel Lechuga, published in January 2021 by Charlesbridge Publishing.

Elizabeth Verdick’s new picture book, “Small Walt Spots Dot”, illustrated by Marc Rosenthal, published in September 2020 by Simon & Schuster.

Blair K. Thornbugh’s picture book, “Second Banana”, illustrated by Kate Berube, published in August 2020 by Harry N. Abrams.

More about award-winning MFAC faculty.

Written by staff.