Ben Philippe wins William C. Morris Award for debut YA novel The Field Guide to the North American Teenager

The American Library Association announced several award winners, including the 2020 Newbery Medal and Caldecott Medal recipients.
The Field Guide to the North American Teenager is a YA book by Ben Philippe. (, HarperCollins)

Canadian Ben Philippe has won the 2020 William C. Morris Award for his book The Field Guide to the North American Teenager.

The annual award, which is organized by the American Library Association, recognizes debut YA novels.

The Field Guide to the North American Teenager is about a wisecracking black French Canadian teenager named Norris Kaplan who learns more about love, friendship and growing up when his family moves from Quebec to Texas.

Born in Haiti, raised in Montreal and now based in New York, Philippe was named a black Canadian writer to watch by CBC Books and has an MFA in fiction and screenwriting.

The prize has been given out annually since 2009. Philippe is the first Canadian to have won.

Fellow Canadian Nafiza Azad was also on the 2020 shortlist for her book The Candle and the Flame

Last year's winner was Angie Thomas for The Hate U Give.

The American Library Association announced the winners of several other awards at their mid-winter meeting in Philadelphia this week. 

New Kid by Jerry Craft won the 2020 Newbery Medal, which recognizes an outstanding contribution to children's literature.

New Kid is a graphic novel about a student in Grade 7 who gets sent to a new, academically challenging school, where he is only of the only black kids there.

The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander and illustrated by Kadir Nelson won the Caldecott Medal, which is given to the most distinguished American picture book of the year.

The Undefeated is an illustrated poem that celebrates the accomplishments of prominent African Americans, including Martin Luther King, Jr., Langston Hughes and Gwendolyn Brooks.

One other Canadian title was recognized at the awards.

The graphic novel Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me by Canadian Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by American Rosemary Valero-O'Connell was named one of four Printz Honor Books, a prize that recognizes YA books.

You can see a complete list of winners at the American Library Association website.


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