Skip to main content

John Coy wins 2017 Kerlan Award

By February 21, 2017September 16th, 2023No Comments
John Coy by Anna Min

John Coy (photo by Anna Min)

John Coy whose most recent books are Their Great and Gap Life, is the winner of the 2017 Kerlan Award from the University of Minnesota Libraries’ Friends of the Kerlan Collection.

The Kerlan Award is given annually in recognition of singular attainments in the creation of children’s literature and in appreciation for generous donations of unique resources to the Kerlan Collection for the study of children’s literature. Past winners have included Wanda Gag, Tomie dePaola, Jane Yolen, Don Freeman, Nikki Grimes, and Kate DiCamillo.

Coy will receive his award at the Kerlan Award Luncheon on Saturday, April 29, 2017 at 12 p.m. in room 120 of the Elmer L. Andersen Library on the West Bank of the University of Minnesota Campus.

Coy is the author of young adult novels, the 4 for 4 middle-grade series, and fiction and nonfiction picture books. His most recent books are Their Great Gift, a story about immigration with striking photographs by Wing Young Huie, and Gap Life, a YA novel about a boy whose parents will pay for college as long as he studies what they want.

Coy has received numerous awards for his work including a Marion Vannett Ridgway Award for best first picture book, a Charlotte Zolotow Honor, Bank Street College Best Book of the Year, Notable Book for a Global Society, and the Burr/Warzalla Award for Distinguished Achievement in Children’s Literature. His work ranges from his picture books to chapter books to Young Adult — fiction and non-fiction — and such topics as history, community, and sports.

Coy has served as an ambassador for children’s literature, literacy, and education visiting children and teachers from Dubai to Sweden to New Delhi to Nairobi to Warsaw to Budapest. He is an avid and visible supporter of new writers and an active member of the children’s book community. He works extensively with teachers and children as a writer-in-residence.

“One of the reasons I like visiting schools and talking with students so much is the opportunity to demystify the process of making a book,” Coy said. “I show examples of my rough drafts and revisions and talk about the process I go through when writing and how it is similar and differs from the process the students use. This connection through writing provides a foundation for teachers to refer back to long after the visit is over.”

His donations to the Kerlan Collection are treasures for students, researchers, and scholars, said Lisa Von Drasek, curator of the Children’s Literature Research Collections at the University of Minnesota Libraries.

“John has a rare talent for bringing people together as a group and at the same time treating them as individuals,” said Natalie Rusk of the MIT Media Laboratory. “He engages listeners’ senses and awareness of themselves in the world, making the experience wonderfully memorable.”

About the Kerlan Award Luncheon

What: Kerlan Award Luncheon
When: April 29, 2017, 12:00 p.m.
Where: Elmer L. Andersen Library, Room 120
Who: John Coy
Lunch Tickets: $25 

Online Reservations

This event is open to the public. Luncheon tickets are $25 general public and $20 for Kerlan Friends.

Books will be sold by Red Balloon Bookstore. To reserve tickets: and for more information email,

About the Kerlan Collection and Children’s Literature Research Collections

The Children’s Literature Research Collections, home to the Kerlan Collection, is an internationally recognized children’s literature library and archive. The Kerlan Collection at the University of Minnesota Archives and Special Collections is one of the world’s leading children’s literature archives.

The collection includes books, original manuscripts and illustrations, and related materials. Teachers, librarians, students, authors, illustrators, translators, and critics study the materials in the collection. The collections includes books, manuscripts, illustrations, comic books, story papers, and other materials related to the creation of historical and modern children’s literature, including archival materials and original artwork for nearly 2,000 authors and illustrators.

Mark Engebretson

Author Mark Engebretson

More posts by Mark Engebretson

© 2024 Regents of the University of Minnesota. All rights reserved. The University of Minnesota is an equal opportunity educator and employer.
Privacy Statement | Acceptable Use of IT Resources