Barnes & Noble Announces the Inaugural Barnes & Noble Children’s & Young Adult Book Award Winners

Press Release

Barnes & Noble Announces the Inaugural Barnes & Noble Children’s & Young Adult Book Award Winners

Mel Fell, Amari and the Night Brothers and Firekeeper’s Daughter Selected as Winners in the Three Categories

New York, NY – (May 3, 2021) – Barnes & Noble today announced the winners of the inaugural Barnes & Noble Children’s & YA Book Awards. The Awards give a national platform to outstanding new and emerging talent in children’s publishing in the three categories of Picture Books, Young Reader and Young Adult.

The winner in the Picture Books category is Mel Fellwritten and illustrated by Corey R. Tabor; the winner in the Young Reader category is Amari and the Night Brothers by B. B. Alston; and the winner in Young Adult is Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley. The overall winner of the Barnes & Noble Children’s and YA Book Award will be announced on June 28.

The winners in each category have been selected by the bookseller’s team for children’s and YA books. The booksellers have specifically set out to award authors early in their careers who have created original, ground-breaking books that will stand the test of time. These outstanding winners will be championed by all Barnes & Noble stores in every state across the country, ensuring the authors reach the widest readership.  

“Barnes & Noble prides itself on both the quality of our book recommendations and on our ability to help a book find an audience in every corner of the country.” said James Daunt, CEO, Barnes & Noble. “Our booksellers selected a fabulous shortlist of finalists, with three quite extraordinary winners. We are celebrating exceptional talents, very early in careers. It is so exciting to discover new voices of such vibrancy and energy. We are certain to enjoy many more books from them, and meanwhile we recommend these wonderful winning books to readers of all ages.”

In recent years, Barnes & Noble booksellers have focused on connecting readers with the best in publishing, with the goal of helping customers discover books and authors they may have otherwise missed. In 2019, the bookseller launched its popular Book of the Year Award. Charlie Mackesy’s The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse – the bookseller’s 2019 Book of the Year – was propelled onto the bestseller lists, where it has remained for now close to two years.  In 2020, Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s World of Wonders, from Milwaukee based nonprofit publisher Milkweed, was selected by booksellers across the country for this honor and enjoys ongoing acclaim.

“We are thrilled with our evolving initiatives for putting our favorite books front and center,” said Jackie De Leo, Vice President, Bookstore, Barnes & Noble. “We have a variety of monthly and yearly programs that highlight fantastic titles of all types, from exciting debuts to newly released paperbacks, to classic titles. As a bookseller, our raison d'etre is to get the best books in the hands of readers, and to boost authors whose work we know will strike a chord with our customers. The three winners of the Children’s & YA Book Awards are exactly those types of books.”  

Barnes & Noble Children’s & YA Book Awards Winners and the Finalists in each category are on display in stores and on  Barnes & Noble is a champion of children’s literacy and booksellers across the country pride themselves on connecting readers to the perfect book, with the goal of fostering a life-long love of reading.  The Barnes & Noble Summer Reading program, a cornerstone of the company’s focus during the summer months is now in its 25th year. The program encourages readers in grades 1 – 6 to read eight books, to then receive one book at the end of the summer from Barnes & Noble.

Picture Book Winner - Mel Fell  written and illustrated by Corey R. Tabor

Picture Book Winner Mel Fell is packed with heart, charm and adorable illustrations. Author and illustrator Corey R. Tabor opens the door for readers of all ages to be inspired and captivated by Mel, a Kingfisher, who is ready to learn to fly.

“This past year we saw the release of many incredible picture books. Mel Fell stands out as an inspiring tale of hope and perseverance, while also celebrating the importance of community,” said Scott Berkowitz, Manager, Children’s Books, Barnes & Noble.  “Corey R. Tabor’s art and creativity, which literally turned the picture book format upside down, makes Mel Fell the perfect book for everyone’s story time.”

“I am so excited and honored to win this award! I was actually in a Barnes & Noble bookstore when I decided to try making my first picture book. I stumbled across a serendipitous stack of Maurice Sendak picture books, and I just kept on stumbling right into the world of children’s publishing,” said Corey R. Tabor. “So, it’s truly such an honor to be chosen for the very first Barnes & Noble picture book award!”

Young Reader Winner - Amari and the Night Brothers by B. B. Alston

Young Reader winner Amari and the Night Brothers is an enchanting debut full of imagination, heart and spellbinding magical fun. Amari is determined to find her missing brother. Her search leads her to the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs and a tryout for the secretive organization that she is sure will help her find him.

“With a fierce female protagonist and a secret magical world full of mythical creatures, Amari and the Night Brothers is exactly the kind of book I would have loved to read when I was younger.” said Stephanie Pinheiro, Manager, Young Reader and Young Adult Books, Barnes & Noble. “B. B. Alston’s world-building is truly phenomenal, and we cannot wait for his next book.”

“For years, the Barnes & Noble at Forest Acres has been my writing sanctuary, a cozy place I go to be surrounded by books and feel inspired,” said B. B. Alston. “So much of Amari and the Night Brothers was written there! It’s why this award is so incredibly special. This means the world to me.”

Young Adult Winner - Firekeeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley

Young Adult winner Firekeeper’s Daughter is an immersive and heart-stopping thriller told through the eyes of 18-year-old Daunis, a biracial, unenrolled member of the Ojibwe tribe. With crystal meth abuse on the rise in her community, Daunis uses her knowledge of science and native medicine to go undercover as a confidential informant with the FBI, but what she uncovers makes her question everything she has ever known.

“While a mystery at its core, Firekeeper’s Daughter is so much more than that.  It’s a coming-of-age tale, a slow-burn romance, and an exploration of Native culture all wrapped up into one breathtaking thriller that I truly could not put down,” said Stephanie Pinheiro. “Angeline Boulley’s authentic depictions of the complexities of Native communities and the trauma and strength of Native women, specifically, make this book a complete standout for YA and adult readers alike.”

"I am incredibly honored to be selected for the inaugural Barnes & Noble YA Book Award. My dream was to tell a story about a biracial young woman claiming her identity and place in her Ojibwe community,” said Angeline Boulley. “I wrote it for Native American teens to see themselves and their aunties, uncles, and elders in a story. And for my story to reach the broadest audience possible, because we are still here and have dynamic experiences to share beyond history books or stories set long ago. Miigwech (Thank you), Barnes & Noble, for this award and for amplifying diverse voices."

Customers can find the Barnes & Noble Children’s Book Awards Winners and Finalists at their local Barnes & Noble and on They can also join the conversation on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook, using hashtag #BNBookPrizes.


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Barnes & Noble, Inc. is the largest retail bookseller in the United States, and a leading retailer of content, digital media and educational products. The Company has over 600 Barnes & Noble bookstores in 50 states, as well as the Nook Digital business and one of the Web’s premier e-commerce sites, General information on Barnes & Noble, Inc. can be found on the Company's website at