YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults

The finalists for the 2011 YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults have been announced! The winner will be announced at ALA Midwinter.

The five titles are:

Janis Joplin: Rise Up Singing by Ann Angel, published by Amulet/Abrams (2010). From YALSA: “Janis Joplin, a true “fish out of water” in Port Arthur, TX, follows her own path to become an icon of American music in her short, tragic life.”

From publisher: “Forty years after her death, Janis Joplin remains among the most compelling and influential figures in rock-and-roll history. Her story—told here with depth and sensitivity by author Ann Angel—is one of a girl who struggled against rules and limitations, yet worked diligently to improve as a singer. It’s the story of an outrageous rebel who wanted to be loved, and of a wild woman who wrote long, loving letters to her mom. And finally, it’s the story of one of the most iconic female musicians in American history, who died at twenty-seven. Janis Joplin includes more than sixty photographs, and an assortment of anecdotes from Janis’s friends and band mates. This thoroughly researched and well-illustrated biography is a must-have for all young artists, music lovers, and pop-culture enthusiasts. ”

They Called Themselves the KKK: The Birth of an American Terrorist Group by Susan Campbell Bartoletti, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (2010). From YALSA: “Bartoletti provides readers with an in-depth look at the formation  of the KKK and its subsequent evolution into a violent organization.  With  primary source material, she details  the horrific history of the Ku Klux Klan and the people who fell victim to its reign of terror.”

From publisher: “Boys, let us get up a club. With those words, six restless young men raided the linens at a friend’s mansion, pulled pillowcases over their heads, hopped on horses, and cavorted through the streets of Pulaski, Tennessee. The six friends named their club the Ku Klux Klan, and, all too quickly, their club grew into the self-proclaimed Invisible Empire with secret dens spread across the South. This is the story of how a secret terrorist group took root in America’s democracy. Filled with chilling and vivid personal accounts unearthed from oral histories, congressional documents, and diaries, it is a book to read and remember.”

Spies of Mississippi:  The True Story of the Spy Network that Tried to Destroy the Civil Rights Movement by Rick Bowers, published by National Geographic Society (2010). From YALSA: “In 1958, the state of Mississippi began an undercover operation, The Sovereignty Commission, to spy on and potentially squelch the Civil Rights movement.  Bowers’ expose of this unknown organization reveals the extent to which some were willing to go to see segregation remain the law of the state. ”

From publisher: “The Spies of Mississippi is a compelling story of how state spies tried to block voting rights for African Americans during the Civil Rights era. This book sheds new light on one of the most momentous periods in American history. Author Rick Bowers has combed through primary-source materials and interviewed surviving activists named in once-secret files, as well as the writings and oral histories of Mississippi civil rights leaders. Readers get first-hand accounts of how neighbors spied on neighbors, teachers spied on students, ministers spied on church-goers, and spies even spied on spies. The Spies of Mississippi will inspire readers with the stories of the brave citizens who overcame the forces of white supremacy to usher in a new era of hope and freedom—an age that has recently culminated in the election of Barack Obama.”

The Dark Game: True Spy Stories by Paul Janeczko, published by Candlewick Press (2010). From YALSA: “This compilation of different spies carries readers from the Revolutionary War through the infamous Cold War era.   Delve into stories about the Choctaw Code Talkers of WWI, Soviet moles, Mata Hari and more as you uncover just how they changed the course of history.”

From Publisher: “Ever since George Washington used them to help topple the British, spies and their networks have helped and hurt America at key moments in history. In this fascinating collection, Paul B. Janeczko probes such stories as that of Elizabeth Van Lew, an aristocrat whose hatred of slavery drove her to be one of the most successful spies in the Civil War; the “Choctaw code talkers,” Native Americans who were instrumental in sending secret messages during World War I; the staggering engineering behind a Cold War tunnel into East Berlin to tap Soviet phones (only to be compromised by a Soviet mole); and many more famous and less-known examples. Colorful personalities, daring missions, the feats of the loyal, and the damage of traitors are interspersed with a look at the technological advances that continue to change the rules of gathering intelligence.  From clothesline codes to surveillance satellites and cyber espionage, Paul B. Janeczko uncovers two centuries’ worth of true spy stories in U.S. history.”

Every Bone Tells a Story: Hominin Discoveries, Deductions, and Debates by Jill Rubalcaba and Peter Robertshaw, published by Charlesbridge (2010). From YALSA: “Through fieldwork, laboratory analysis, and scientific debate, the bones of Turkana Boy, Lapede Child, Kennewick Man and Iceman are used to tell the fascinating stories of four member of the human family tree.  Maps, photographs, and news headlines add to our understanding of archeology’s cutting edge science.”

From Publisher: “Jill Rubalcaba and Peter Robertshaw recount the unearthing of four hominins–Turkana Boy, Lapedo Child, Kennewick Man, and Iceman. Each discovery leads not only to deductions that scientists made in laboratories, but also to controversial debates over the scientists’ differences of opinion over how, or even if, the pieces fit together.  Learn how specialized the field of archaeology has become and how new technology can change both scientists’ theories and the way we view the past.”

Believe it or not… I have read NONE of these books! I am scrambling now to get copies so I can post reviews before the big reveal in January.

Thank you to the committee. I cannot wait to hear what the winner is!

The committee: 

Members of the 2011 YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults Award committee are: Chair Don Latham, Florida State University School of Library and Information Studies, Tallahassee, Fla.; Christine Allen, Arlington High School, Riverside, Calif.; Rachel Aronowitz, San Francisco Public Library; Carrie Bryniak, Wadsworth (Ohio) Public Library; Monique Franklin, Texas Women’s University School of Library and Information Science, Denton, Texas; Jeanette Larson, Pflugerville, Texas; Teri Lesesne, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas; Courtney Lewis, Wyoming Seminary Upper School, Kingston, Pa.; Charli Osborne, Oxford (Mich.) Public Library; Judy Sasges, administrative assistant, Sno-Isle Libraries, Marysville, Wash.; and Laura Tillotson, Booklist consultant, Chicago.

Images from YALSA website (because I wanted the ones with the shiny!)


8 thoughts on “YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults

  1. These books sound really great. I’m a MLS student who has been trying to read one YA book a week, but so far it’s only been fiction. Excited to add some compelling non-fiction to my reading list!


  2. I’ve read them all! ha! My guess for the award is THEY CALLED THEMSELVES THE KKK. I loved JANIS and DARK GAME as well but I’m thinking an award committee would go more for the KKK book (which is incredibly well written and significant). I’m thinking they’d see JANIS and DARK as a little less significant. (Although DARK could be the “dark horse” – so to speak! 🙂

    I didn’t think SPIES was as well written as the others (and hope someone else returns to this subject for a longer book) and EVERY BONE is just really dry reading for teens although certainly great for reports, etc. (And anyone interested in archaeology and/or anthropology).


  3. Carla, I’m looking forward to reading these books, It seems no matter how many books I read, I find more books I haven’t read!

    Cynthia, thanks for the links to the intereviews.

    Colleen, I’ll weigh in after I’ve had the chance to read all 5 books.


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