Hamline News

MFAC Instructors Win Newbery and Printz Awards

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Two instructors for Hamline's Master of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults (MFAC) program, Matt de la Peña and Laura Ruby, have been honored with two of the most coveted awards among writers of books for young people.

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 year's 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 only 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 National Public Radio.

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

“This is something really special for Hamline. It's so gratifying to see our amazing faculty honored with such prestigious awards,” said Christine Rousu, graduate administrator for Hamline's Creative Writing Programs. “Matt and Laura are both on campus right now for the January residency, which has added an extra element of excitement and celebration for our students and faculty.”

During the intense ten-day MFAC residencies, de la Peña, Ruby, and the other distinguished faculty members give lectures and conduct workshops on the craft and business of writing as well as hold critique groups focused on the students' individual creative work. Following the residency, students submit their work each month to their individual faculty member who mentors them through whatever writing process the student is working on that semester. The aim is to help aspiring authors find their voice on the page in hopes that they too might someday write a Newbery-worthy book for young people.

You can read more about these awards in Publishers Weekly and on National Public Radio.