Who Will Win?

November 16 is the National Book Awards Ceremony in New York City. On my bucket list: to one day attend. In the meanwhile, I’ll have fun following along on Twitter.

First, a recap of the five nominated titles in the Young People’s Literature Category:

Chime by Franny Billingsley (Dial Books, an imprint of Penguin Group USA, Inc. ). From my review: “Oh, I loved this book. I agonized over putting together the plot description because it seems inadequate. I considered just cutting and pasting the publisher’s description but that didn’t seem to capture Chime, either; not in the “I have sixty seconds to sell this book to you. Here’s why to read it” way I wanted. The best one liner I’ve seen so far is from Reading Rants: “If Tender Morsels had a love child with Madapple, and My Sweet Audrina was the midwife, it might turn out looking like Franny Billingsley’s crazy good new fantasy, CHIME.” The only thing I’d add to that is “and set in a world like The China Garden.”

My Name is Not Easy by Debby Dahl Edwardson (Marshall Cavendish). From my review: “There is a difference between a depressing book and a book where sad things happen; this is not a depressing book. Yes, things are lost; Luke’s name is not easy, and neither is his time at the school. There is also love, friendship, kindness, and survival. Not just survival, but triumph.”

Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai (Harper, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers). From my review:Inside Out & Back Again is a novel in verse. I usually think of novels in verse as books with less details, because, well, there are less words; and I look at them as books where the emotions that need to be conveyed are best told in verse. What surprised and impressed me for Inside Out & Back Again was just how much about Ha’s life in Vietnam, at sea, and in Alabama are given: the lotus seeds and rice cakes to celebrate Tet, a brother who dreams of being Bruce Lee, a family of five living on one mat, the frustrations with learning English.”

Flesh and Blood So Cheap: The Triangle Fire and Its Legacy by Albert Marrin (Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books). From my review: “Imagine — a fifty two hour work week is a “win” for the labor movement. I am thankful to not live a hundred years ago. Before the reader can feel smug about “now” being better than “then,” Marrin informs the reader of current factory conditions in other countries that are far from safe. “Short memories are dangerous, because they allow greed to take control.” There are no simple answers; but there is knowledge, such as the information that Marrin provides in Flesh & Blood So Cheap.”

Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt (Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). From my review: “The voice! Doug’s voice! I adored it, was swept away by it, not just in how Schmidt captures a thirteen year old with a chip on his shoulder trying not to be “that person” who strikes out in anger, but also how Doug reveals information. Look at that simple quote, above — “I hate that we had to come here” — and how in those few words we find out so much about Doug. It’s not the town he hates, but the fact that his father lost a job, that they had no options, that it’s a step down, that they “had” to do this. Again and again, Doug reveals information he doesn’t realize he’s revealing. It’s a thing of beauty, actually, to go through the book and find instance after instance of this.”

The Judges: Marc Aronson (Panel Chair), Ann Brashares, Matt de la Peña, Nikki Grimes, Will Weaver.


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