A Korean American writer won the John Newbery, the highest honor in children’s literature, for her book based on a Korean folklore.
The American Library Association said on Monday that the 2021 John Newbery went to Tae Keller, 27, who wrote “When You Trap Tiger,” as it announced awards winners to honor the most distinguished books that were published during the past year. The John Newbery Medal, which was established in 1921, is one of the most prestigious awards in children’s books that are recognized around the world.
“This masterpiece of magical realism is an evocative story of love, loss, and hope that brings Korean folklore to life,” the association said. “Through her halmoni’s tales, Lily learns that with stories we can share our past and shape our future.” Her book, the 100th work that received the medal, consists of 304 pages and was published by Penguin Random House in January 2020.
“When Lily and her family move in with her sick grandmother, a magical tiger straight out of her halmoni’s Korean folktales arrives, prompting Lily to unravel a secret family history,” writes Keller on her website where she also introduces herself as someone who “grew up in Honolulu, Hawaii, where she subsisted on kimchi, purple rice and stories.”
Keller is a daughter of Nora Okja Keller who published “Comfort Woman in 1997 and “Fox Girl” in 2002. Born to a Korean mother and a German-American father Nora Okja Keller moved to Hawaii from Seoul at three.