Giant congratulations to Austin SCBWI member Christina Soontornvat for the outstanding success of two of her books for young readers, All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys’ Soccer Team and A Wish in the Dark, each of which has just received a Newbery Honor! For only the second time in the 98-year history of the Newbery Medal, two books written by the same author have received Newbery awards in the same year. The only other author with this distinction is E.L. Konigsburg, author of From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, who won both a Newbery Medal and a Newbery Honor in 1968.
All Thirteen tells the gripping true story of the Thai boys’ soccer team and their head coach, who, in June, 2018, found themselves trapped deep within a flooded cave in northern Thailand. The narrative switches back and forth between the team’s survival underground over eighteen long days and the epic international rescue mission unfolding above the surface.
A Wish in the Dark is a middle-grade novel that recasts the story of Les Misérables in a Thai-inspired fantasy world. When young Pong escapes from prison, he finds himself in a society as unjust as the one behind bars; when Nok, the prison warden’s daughter, chases after Pong intent on recapturing him, she, too, must confront secret truths about the world she thought she knew.
Remarkably, both books have been racking up awards and accolades in addition to the Newbery Honor. All Thirteen has been named a Robert E. Sibert Honor Book, a YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Finalist, an Orbis Pictus Honor Book (from the National Council of Teachers of English), and a Flora Stieglitz Straus Award Winner (from Bank Street College), and has received seven starred reviews and been named to numerous “best of” lists. A Wish in the Dark won the Jane Addams Peace Association Children’s Book Award in the “older readers” category and has also been named to many “best of” lists.
“I am still a little bit in shock about everything,” Christina writes. “I honestly never dreamed that I would be in this place in my career, and I’m so deeply honored to have my work recognized at this level. I am still coasting on cloud nine, and the only bummer right now is that I can’t get out there and hug my Austin writing people! There is no question that this community has helped me on my journey. I have had the wisest mentors, the best critique partners, the dearest friends here, and it has made such an impact on my writing life. I am really looking forward to the day when we all get to gather and be with each other again!”