Hamline News

MFAC Instructors Win Newbery and Printz Awards

Matt de la Peña and Laura Ruby

Two instructors for the Hamline Master of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults (MFAC) program, Matt de la Peña and Laura Ruby, accepted two of the most coveted awards amongst writers of American children’s books.

Matt de la Peña was awarded the 2016 John Newbery Medal for his picture book Last Stop on Market Street. This medal, given annually by the American Library Association, marks the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature. De la Peña is the first Hispanic to win the Newbery. His book also won a Caldecott Honor for its beautiful illustrations, making it the second book to ever receive both accolades. Last Stop on Market Street is about a boy named CJ, who, while riding the bus with his grandmother, wonders why their family doesn’t have a car, why he doesn’t have an iPod, and why his family always has to get off the bus in the dirty part of town. He spoke about the book in an interview with NPR.

Laura Ruby has won the 2016 Michael L. Printz Award for Bone Gap. Her book is about the disappearance of a young girl named Roza and her friend’s endeavor to unravel the mystery. Showered with rave reviews, the young adult novel was also a finalist for a 2015 National Book Award.

“There’s something really special for Hamline,” said Christine Rousu, the Creative Writing Graduate Program Administrator. “They’re both on campus right now for the January Residency, which has added an extra element of excitement for our students and faculty.”

De la Peña and Ruby are working with students in the MFAC program, sharing their gifts, and giving lectures on craft. The two award-winning, nationally recognized authors will mentor the students, helping them to find their voice on the page in hopes that they too might someday write a Newbery-worthy book for young people.