National Book Award Winners

Congratulations to this year’s National Book Award winners.  They are:

For Young People’s Literature:

For Fiction:



Translated Literature:

I’ve been busily requesting titles from my library but I have to admit that I’m most curious about 1919.  In part, that is to be expected.  It is a book for young people.  I write books for young people

But look at the full title.  1919: The Year That Changed America. 

Really?  1919?  Nothing to do with the Civil War which was fought on US soil.   Not a date that is important by railway standards.

Is it just that this date is 100 years ago? Here is what the publisher has to say in the description:

“Some of the most important issues of our time were no less important 100 years ago. America in 1919, at the close of World War I, was shaken from the events of large-scale warfare, fearing a Communist takeover, and facing an incredible amount of social and political change. From Prohibition to women’s suffrage, the labor strikes to the violence of the Red Summer and the Red Scare, this book explores each major movement of 1919. Showing how these events were interrelated and examining their continued relevance to our country a century later, Martin Sandler offers a unique historical perspective on the trajectory of the major movements of the 20th century. Showing readers how every current event has unique and fascinating history preceding it, this book will help them better understand the world they live in and the change many still seek today, offering educators a framework for discussing historical perspective and progress”-

I’m really looking forward to reading this one and seeing how author Martin Sandler makes his case.


National Book Award: Long List for 2019 Award for Young People’s Literature Released

If you write for teens and you often find yourself inspired by what is making headline news, you need to check out the National Book Awards.  In my experience, the National Book Foundation gravitates towards books that could be ripped from today’s headlines.  The long list for 2019 has just been announced.  These are the books from which the finalists and ultimately the winner will be chosen.  They are:

The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander, illustrations by Kadir Nelson (Versify/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). Originally a poem, this title is an ode to the strength of Black Americans in the past and today.

SHOUTby Laurie Halse Anderson (Viking Books for Young Readers/Penguin Random House). A memoir in verse.

Pet by Akwaeke Emezi (Make Me a World/Penguin Random House). A fantasy story about about what the world is like after the school shooting, police brutality and prison crazy modern age.

A Place to Belong by Cynthia Kadohata (With illustrations by Julia Kuo Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books/Simon & Schuster). The story of a Japanese American family repatriated to Japan after World War II.

Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks by Jason Reynolds (Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books/Simon & Schuster). A collection of short stories about the after school activities of a group of middle school students.

Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay (Kokila/Penguin Random House). When Jay’s drug addicted cousin, Jun, is murdered, he journeys to the Philippines where he was born to find out what happened.

Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All by Laura Ruby (Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins Publishers) is based on the author’s mother-in-law’s experience growing up in a World War II era Chicago orphanage.

1919: The Year That Changed America by Martin W. Sandler (Bloomsbury Children’s Books/Bloomsbury Publishing). Each chapter deals with a different pivotal event from the Great Molasses Flood to the onset of Prohibition.

Out of Salem by Hal Schrieve (Triangle Square/Seven Stories Press). A fantasy about a gender-queer character who becomes a zombie in a fatal car accident.

Kiss Number 8 by Colleen AF Venable and Ellen T. Crenshaw (First Second Books/Macmillan Publishers). A graphic novel that deals with transphobia and sexuality and well as hypocrisy as the main character grows up in a conservative household and school.

Admittedly, I only have one of these books, Patron Saints of Nothing, on my shelf at the moment but I’m eager to request others.  So many fascinating stories, many of which combine history with today’s headlines, to explore.


National Book Awards: Finalists Announced

Last week the National Book Foundation announced the finalists for the National Book Awards, winners to be announced on November 14.  In the category of “Yound People’s Literature,” the nominees are:

Elizabeth Acevedo, The Poet X (Harper Teen). “Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking.”

M.T. Anderson and Eugene Yelchin, The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge (Candlewick Press). “”Uptight elfin historian Brangwain Spurge is on a mission: survive being catapulted across the mountains into goblin territory, deliver a priceless peace offering to their mysterious dark lord, and spy on the goblin kingdom — from which no elf has returned alive in more than a hundred years. Brangwain’s host, the goblin archivist Werfel, is delighted to show Brangwain around. They should be the best of friends, but a series of extraordinary double crosses, blunders, and cultural misunderstandings throws these two bumbling scholars into the middle of an international crisis that may spell death for them — and war for their nations. Witty mixed media illustrations show Brangwain’s furtive missives back to the elf kingdom, while Werfel’s determinedly unbiased narrative tells an entirely different story.” M.T. Anderson previously won prize in 2006 for The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing.

Leslie Connor, The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle (Katherine Tegen Books). “As he grieves his best friend Benny’s death, Mason and his friend Calvin, who are targeted by the neighborhood bullies, create an underground haven for themselves, but when Calvin goes missing Mason finds himself in trouble.”

Christopher Paul Curtis, The Journey of Little Charlie (Scholastic Press). “When his poor sharecropper father is killed in an accident and leaves the family in debt, twelve-year-old Little Charlieagrees to accompany fearsome plantation overseer Cap’n Buck north in pursuit of people who have stolen from him; Cap’n Buck tells Little Charlie that his father’s debt will be cleared when the fugitives are captured, which seems like a good deal until Little Charlie comes face-to-face with the people he is chasing.”

Jarrett J. Krosoczka, Hey, Kiddo (Graphix). A graphic novel. “In kindergarten, Jarrett Krosoczka’s teacher asks him to draw his family, with a mommy and a daddy. But Jarrett’s family is much more complicated than that. His mom is an addict, in and out of rehab, and in and out of Jarrett’s life. His father is a mystery — Jarrett doesn’t know where to find him, or even what his name is. Jarrett lives with his grandparents — two very loud, very loving, very opinionated people who had thought they were through with raising children until Jarrett came along.”

National Book Award titles always feel like they’ve been pulled from the headlines.  Given that, I’m very curious about he Assassination of Brangwain Spurge which I’ve yet to read.  Now awaiting a copy from my library.  Pick some of these up and let me know what you think.



National Book Award: 2016 Young People’s Longlist Available

ypl-longlist-book-jackets-400x228I always love seeing what is in the running for the National Book Award so I was excited to see that the National Book Foundation has made the long list available.  The short list, or finalists, will be announced October 13.  The award itself will be announced on November 16.

The National Book Foundation has announced the 2016 National Book Awards Longlist for Young People’s Literature.

Take a look and see how many of the books you’ve already read.

  • Kwame Alexander’s Booked (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
  • Kate DiCamillo’s Raymie Nightingale (Candlewick Press)
  • John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell’s March: Book Three (Top Shelf)
  • Grace Lin’s When the Sea Turned to Silver (Little, Brown)
  • Anna-Marie McLemore’s When the Moon Was Ours (Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Press)
  • Meg Medina’s Burn Baby Burn (Candlewick Press)
  • Sara Pennypacker and Jon Klassen’s Pax (Balzer & Bray/HarperCollins)
  • Jason Reynolds’ Ghost (Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing)
  • Caren Stelson’s Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor’s Story (Carolrhoda Books/Lerner Publishing Group)
  • Nicola Yoon’s The Sun Is Also a Star (Random House/Delacorte Press)

The good news is that you have plenty of time to get some reading in before they announce the finalists. Me?  I’ve already put in several requests at my local library.


National Book Award, Long List

Last week, the National Book Foundation published their “longlist” for this year’s National Book Award for Young People’s Literature.  These are the ten books that are under consideration for the award.  How many of them have you read?
The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson.  

Description:  For the past five years, Hayley Kincaid and her father, Andy, have been on the road, never staying long in one place as he struggles to escape the demons that have tortured him since his return from Iraq. Now they are back in the town where he grew up so Hayley can attend school. Perhaps, for the first time, Hayley can have a normal life, put aside her own painful memories, even have a relationship with Finn, the hot guy who obviously likes her but is hiding secrets of his own. Will being back home help Andy’s PTSD, or will his terrible memories drag him to the edge of hell, and drugs push him over?

I haven’t read this one yet, but it is on my list.  Anderson’s work often covers edgy topics with well-developed characters and knife-edge plots.  IMO, a must read.

Girls like Us by Gail Giles

Description:  Quincy and Biddy are both graduates of their high school’s special ed program, but they couldn’t be more different: suspicious Quincy faces the world with her fists up, while gentle Biddy is frightened to step outside her front door. When they’re thrown together as roommates in the first “real world” apartments it initially seems like an uneasy fit. But as Biddy’s past resurfaces and Quincy faces something that on one should have to go through alone, the two of them realize that they might have more in common than they thought–and more important, that they might be able to help each other move forward, together.

I have to admit that I missed the buzz on this one, but it is intriguing.  

Skink No Surrender by Carl Hiaasen

Description: Classic Malley — to avoid being shipped off to boarding school, she takes off with some guy she met online. Poor Richard — he knows his cousin’s in trouble before she does. Wild Skink — he’s a ragged, one-eyed ex-governor of Florida, and enough of a renegade to think he can track Malley down. With Richard riding shotgun, the unlikely pair scour the state, undaunted by blinding storms, crazed pigs, flying bullets, and giant gators.

Classic Malley, perhaps.  Classic Hiaasen?  Definitely.  No other author could work crazed pigs and giant gators into the same book.  Still, will it stand up to my all time favorite, Hoot?

The Port Chicago 50 by Steven Sheinkin

Description: A group of young African American sailors – many of them teenagers – are assigned to load ammunition at Port Chicago, a segregated naval base in California. But they are never trained to handle ammunition safely, and are constantly being rushed by their officers. When a terrifying disaster rocks the base, the men face the toughest decision of their lives: do they return to duty as ordered, or do they risk everything to take a stand against segregation in the military?


This has been on my short list since I heard Sheinkin speak about it two weeks ago.  Another edge-of-your-seat nonfiction thriller.


100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith

Description: Finn Easton sees the world through miles instead of minutes. It’s how he makes sense of the world, and how he tries to convince himself that he’s a real boy and not just a character in his father’s bestselling cult-classic book. Finn has two things going for him: his best friend, the possibly-insane-but-definitely-excellent Cade Hernandez, and Julia Bishop, the first girl he’s ever loved. Then Julia moves away, and Finn is heartbroken. Feeling restless and trapped in the book, Finn embarks on a road trip with Cade to visit their college of choice in Oklahoma. When an unexpected accident happens and the boys become unlikely heroes, they take an eye-opening detour away from everything they thought they had planned—and learn how to write their own destiny.

Another one that has been below my radar until now.  Interested to see what the cover has to do with the story. 
Noggin by John Corey Whaley

Description: Listen—Travis Coates was alive once and then he wasn’t. Now he’s alive again. Simple as that. The in between part is still a little fuzzy, but he can tell you that, at some point or another, his head got chopped off and shoved into a freezer in Denver, Colorado. Five years later, it was reattached to some other guy’s body, and well, here he is. Despite all logic, he’s still 16 and everything and everyone around him has changed. That includes his bedroom, his parents, his best friend, and his girlfriend. Or maybe she’s not his girlfriend anymore? That’s a bit fuzzy too. Looks like if the new Travis and the old Travis are ever going to find a way to exist together, then there are going to be a few more scars. Oh well, you only live twice.

By merry coincidence, just brought this one home from the library.  Morbidly fascintated with the idea since I read about the book.

Revolution by Deborah Wiles.

Description: It’s 1964, and Sunny’s town is being invaded. Or at least that’s what the adults of Greenwood, Mississippi are saying. All Sunny knows is that people from up north are coming to help people register to vote. They’re calling it Freedom Summer. Meanwhile, Sunny can’t help but feel like her house is being invaded, too. She has a new stepmother, a new brother, and a new sister crowding her life, giving her little room to breathe. And things get even trickier when Sunny and her brother are caught sneaking into the local swimming pool — where they bump into a mystery boy whose life is going to become tangled up in theirs.
I am always amazed by the number of books on this list that I have never, ever heard of before.  Looks like a great job of mirroring plot with subplot.

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

Description:  Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become.

Haven’t managed to get ahold of this one yet but sure to be a fascinating look at the early life of this author.

Threatened by Eliot Schrefer

Description: Into the jungle. Into the wild. Into harm’s way. When he was a boy, Luc’s mother would warn him about the “mock men” living in the trees by their home — chimpanzees whose cries would fill the night. Luc is older now, his mother gone. He lives in a house of mistreated orphans, barely getting by. Then a man calling himself Prof comes to town with a mysterious mission. When Luc tries to rob him, the man isn’t mad. Instead, he offers Luc a job. Together, Luc and Prof head into the rough, dangerous jungle in order to study the elusive chimpanzees. There, Luc finally finds a new family — and must act when that family comes under attack.
This description raises a lot of questions and I definitely want to read this book.  

Greenglass House by Kate Milford

Description:   A rambling old smuggler’s inn, a strange map, an attic packed with treasures, squabbling guests, theft, friendship, and an unusual haunting mark this smart mystery in the tradition of the Mysterious Benedict Society books.

I tried to check this one out from the library as soon as it came out.  No luck.  Fortunately there are now copies available.  

Let me know what you think of these books as you read them!



National Book Award

Congratulations to Cynthia Kadohata and her editor Caitlyn Dlouhy.  Last week, Kadohata won the 2013 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature for her book, The Thing about Luck (Atheneum Books for Young Readers).  I have to admit that I haven’t read all of the finalists for this award yet and Kadohata’s book is one that I’m still waiting for the library to receive.

I still enjoyed reading her interview with the National Book Foundation here.  Kadohata is one of many authors whose personal experience color the world of her books.

Here is the description of the book, from Goodreads, to tickle your fancy.

There is bad luck, good luck, and making your own luck—which is exactly what Summer must do to save her family in this novel from Newbery Medalist Cynthia Kadohata.

Summer knows that kouun means “good luck” in Japanese, and this year her family has none of it. Just when she thinks nothing else can possibly go wrong, an emergency whisks her parents away to Japan—right before harvest season. Summer and her little brother, Jaz, are left in the care of their grandparents, who come out of retirement in order to harvest wheat and help pay the bills.

The thing about Obaachan and Jiichan is that they are old-fashioned and demanding, and between helping Obaachan cook for the workers, covering for her when her back pain worsens, and worrying about her lonely little brother, Summer just barely has time to notice the attentions of their boss’s cute son. But notice she does, and what begins as a welcome distraction from the hard work soon turns into a mess of its own.

Having thoroughly disappointed her grandmother, Summer figures the bad luck must be finished—but then it gets worse. And when that happens, Summer has to figure out how to change it herself, even if it means further displeasing Obaachan. Because it might be the only way to save her family.

Pick up The Thing about Luck and see what makes the winning novel tick.



National Book Award Short List

National Book Award short listJust a quick heads up that the National Book Award long list has been chopped down to short lists.  I first saw this last week, and here is the list for Young People’s literature:
Far Far Away, Tom McNeal (Knopf Children’s)
The Thing About Luck, Cynthia Kadohata (Atheneum)
Boxers & Saints, Gene Luen Yang (First Second)
The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp, Kathi Appelt (Atheneum)
Picture Me Gone, Meg Rosoff (Putnam Children’s)
The above list is organized in order of units sold as of the announcement.  Not entirely surprising, about 1/2 of the titles seem to be from Penguin Random House.  Face it.  They’re gigantic because they know what lots of people like and the NBA has always struck me as recognizing books from today’s headlines.
Read excepts of these and the selections from the other categories (fiction, nonfiction and poetry) by picking up your free ebook for each category at your favorite retailer.  Just search for “The Contenders: Excerpts from the 2012 National Book Award” and all four selections should come up.

National Book Award Nominees Announced


The National Book Award nominees have been announced.  This is the first year that ten-book long-lists for each panel will be released to the public in mid-September.  Here is the list for children and young adult titles.

Kathi Appelt, The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp (Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster)

Kate DiCamillo, Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures (Candlewick Press)

Lisa Graff, A Tangle of Knots (Philomel Books/Penguin Group USA)

Alaya Dawn Johnson, The Summer Prince (Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic)

Cynthia Kadohata, The Thing About Luck (Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster)

David Levithan, Two Boys Kissing (Alfred A. Knopf/Random House)

Tom McNeal, Far Far Away (Alfred A. Knopf/Random House)

Meg Rosoff, Picture Me Gone (G.P. Putnam’s Sons/Penguin Group USA)

Anne Ursu, The Real Boy (Walden Pond Press/HarperCollinsPublishers)

Gene Luen Yang, Boxers & Saints (First Second/Macmillan)

The winners will be announced on 10/20/2013.  The last listing, Yang’s, actually consists of two books which is a little different.  NBA books tend to be titles that you could picture in the current headlines.   Which book has your vote?  



National Book Award

Where you surprised last week when the National Book Foundation announced the winners of the National Book Award?

The winner is Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai (Harper).  The other nominees included Chime by Franny Billingsley (Dial Books), My Name Is Not Easy by Debby Dahl Edwardson (Marshall Cavendish), Flesh and Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and Its Legacy by Albert Marrin (Alfred A. Knopf), and Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt (Clarion Books).

I have one more book off the list to read.  I’d love to know what criteria the judges used to pick the winner.  The nominated books are so different from each other.

Which one would you have chosen?


National Book Award, Part 2

When I first heard about the nominations for the National Book Award, I couldn’t wait for this week to get here so that I could blog about Debby’s book.  Debby is, after all, a friend and an excellent author.  Do check out her book (My Name Is Not Easy).  

But when I was writing the post, I went online to find the complete list of nominations.  There had been some buzz last week because when the nominations were announced, Franny Billingsly’s Chime was accidentally omitted with Lauren Myracle’s Shine in that spot.

Initially, the National Book Foundation took responsibility by simply adding Franny’s book to the list.  This led to an unprecedented 6 item list.

But when I looked up the list, it was only 5 items long.  What the heck?  A quick search revealed why.

Apparently, Friday the National Book Foundation asked Lauren to remove herself from the competition to preserve the integrity of the award process.

Seriously?  Being a class act, she stepped down.

This really bother’s me, although I don’t know Lauren.  Imagine finding out you’ve  been nominated and then, oops!, no you haven’t. It also bother’s me because I’d imagine that it might just sully the joy for the other authors.

So why not support all six authors when you are picking out books to read over the next several weeks?  That’s what I plan to do.

Those books on the official list:

Chime by Franny Billingsley (Dial Books)

My Name Is Not Easy by Debby Dahl Edwardson (Marshall Cavendish)

Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai (Harper)

Flesh and Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and Its Legacy by Albert Marrin
(Alfred A. Knopf)

Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt (Clarion Books)

And one that isn’t:

Shine by Lauren Myracle (Amulet)

We may not be able to change what happened, no one can at this point, but we can support all 6 authors inadvertently involved.