Erin Entrada Kelly’s “Hello, Universe,” a story about a diverse group of middle school students and their unexpected encounters, has won the John Newbery Medal for the outstanding children’s book of 2017. The Randolph Caldecott Medal for best illustration went to Matthew Cordell and his near-wordless story of a girl and the wolf pup she saves, “Wolf in the Snow.”

Kelly’s middle-grade-level novel is about a boy who becomes trapped with his guinea pig in an abandoned well. His story weaves together with that of his friend Kaori, a nature lover named Valencia and the neighborhood bully, Chet.

KidsPost reviewer Mary Quattlebaum picked it as one of her favorite fiction titles of 2017.

“As she skillfully intercuts these four narratives,” Quattlebaum wrote, “Kelly builds suspense and fosters empathy for her characters, from the fiercely independent, hearing-impaired Valencia, who insists that ‘solo — it’s the best way to go,’ to mean-spirited Chet, who yearns for approval from his intolerant father.”

The American Library Association handed out the awards Monday in Denver. The Newbery selection committee also chose three honor books: “Long Way Down,” by Jason Reynolds; “Piecing Me Together,” by Renée Watson; and “Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut,” written by Derrick Barnes and illustrated by Gordon C. James.

Both the Newbery and Caldecott medals are more than 80 years old, with previous winners including Jacqueline Woodson’s “Brown Girl Dreaming” and Madeleine L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle in Time.”

On Monday, Woodson received the Laura Ingalls Wilder award for lifetime achievement, and Nina LaCour’s “We Are Okay” was given the Michael L. Printz Award for best young adult literature. Angie Thomas’s “The Hate U Give,” one of last year’s top-selling young adult novels, was cited twice. It won a William C. Morris Award for best debut book for teens and an Odyssey Award for best audiobook.

Watson’s “Piecing Me Together” won the Coretta Scott King Award for outstanding book


APRIL 2017: HANDOUT IMAGE: "Lucky, Broken Girl" is Ruth Behar's new middle-grade novel. (Handout)

by an African American author. The King award for best illustrator went to Ekua Holmes for “Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets.” Eloise Greenfield, whose dozens of books include “Honey, I Love” and “In the Land of Words,” won the King award for lifetime achievement.

The Pura Belpré Award for best Latino book was given to “Lucky Broken Girl,” by Ruth Behar. The Pura Belpre illustrator prize went to Juana Martinez-Neal and “La Princesa and the Pea.”