Caldecott Medalist Michaela Goade


Click here to watch the 2021 ALA Youth Media Awards press conference.

I asked Michaela Goade, Noa Denmon, Yuko Shimizu, Cozbi A. Cabrera, and Cindy Derby to answer two questions and finish two sentence starters.

Hello, Michaela Goade! Congratulations on winning the 2021 Caldecott Medal for We Are Water Protectors.

Michaela Goade: Gunalchéesh! Thank you so much!

I love learning about the CALL. What was running through your heart when the Caldecott committee was clapping and cheering for you?

Michaela Goade: You know, it felt like my brain blanked out there for several minutes! I was very much a deer in the headlights. After I registered who these strange faces were and what they were saying, I just kept thinking “WHAT? Are you sure? This is real?! You’re sure this is real??” Quickly followed by so many thank yous as my heart started to overflow with gratitude. I’m not much of an outwardly emotional person, so I hope the committee didn’t mistake my freezing for nonchalance because I was definitely freaking out inside! My hands were shaking for quite some time after that call.

What does receiving the Caldecott Medal for We Are Water Protectors mean to you?

Michaela Goade: It is such a huge honor, and I’m beyond excited to see what happens next. On a personal level, it is incredibly affirming and tells me to keep pushing in this direction. I remember having some anxiety around my style for this book. Would people respond to the book’s spiritual visual narrative? Was I coming at it too intensely? Was I doing right by Standing Rock and Mother Earth? Self-doubt comes with every book and this particular project was no exception, so receiving the Caldecott Medal has been both unbelievable and so, so heartwarming.

It’s also important to acknowledge the fact that I am the first Indigenous or BIPOC woman to receive the Medal in the award’s 83-year history. I was surprised to learn that fact in 2021. There is a lot to reflect on there. However, when I look to the future I am so inspired! I’m standing on many shoulders and we’re all working to help open doors and lift each other up. There have been great strides within the industry and I feel so grateful to help play a role. I am thrilled to think about BIPOC children or adults who, when they hopefully see themselves in this recognition, feel validated and know that their voices and stories are powerful and precious.

Please finish the following sentence:

School libraries are like a home away from home!

Picture books are absolute magic. And reflective of our society and our times. Carole and I have been continually blown away by the support of this book. It gives us strength and hope!

Thank you, Michaela! 

Michaela Goade is an artist and graphic designer living and working in Juneau, Alaska, where she was also raised. Forever inspired by the coastal wilds of Southeast Alaska, she works to capture its magic and honor its vibrant cultures. Michaela is from the Raven moiety and Kiks.ádi Clan from Sitka, Alaska.

Borrow We Are Water Protectors from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops.


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