Ashley Hope Perez' s YA novel "Out of Darkness," published by Minneapolis-based Carolrhoda Lab, picked up an Honor Book designation at the ALA Youth Media Awards announced Jan. 11.

The Twin Cities' strong stable of notable writers and illustrators targeting young readers came away mostly empty-handed from the American Library Association's annual awards announcement this morning. But Carolrhoda Books, a division of Minneapolis-based Lerner Publishing Group, Inc.picked up two honorable mentions.

In the illustration category, the Coretta Scott King Award named “The Book Itch: Freedom, Truth & Harlem’s Greatest Bookstore,” illustrated by R. Gregory Christie and written by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson as one of two King Illustrator Honor Books. The award was won by Bryan Collier for "Trombone Shorty," written by Troy Andrews and Bill Taylor.

"Out of Darkness" by Ashley Hope Pérez, her third YA title published by Carolrhoda Lab, was named one of two Printz Honor Books. The Michael L. Printz Award is given for excellence in literature for young adults, and was won by Laura Ruby for "Bone Gap."

As a small, independent, family-owned publishing house, Lerner was up against huge New York powerhouse conglomerates like Random House Penguin. Carolrhoda Lab, a Lerner imprint focusing on young-adult fiction, publishes only 10 to 14 titles a year.

“With only 150 employees and a smaller marketing budget, we’re putting out books of equal if not better quality,” said Lindsay Matvick, Lerner’s publicity manager. “We maintain relationships with our authors and put a lot of passion and personal touches into our books.”

The most prestigious and anticipated of annua ALA youth-literature awards are the Newbery and Caldecott medals. This year's Newbery, given for the most outstanding contribution to children's literature, went to "Last Stop on Market Street" written by Matt de la Pena and illustrated by Christian Robinson. The Caldecott, awarded for the most distinguished American picture book for children, went to "Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear," illustrated by Sophie Blackall and written by Lindsay Mattick.

The nearly 20 Minnesota nominees this year included three-time Newbery winner Kate DiCamillo, National Book Award winners William Alexander and Pete Hautman, Shannon Gibney and Rebecca Hahn.

"The Book Itch," published by Carolrhoda Books, picked up its own Honor Book nod at the ALA Youth Media Awards.