Earlier this week the NBA announced their long list of YA titles under consideration for the National Book Award. Not many awards announce the books they are considering beforehand and I think it’s great fun to read along with the committee as they decide. I liken it to the Oscars. You can check out the films and root for your favorite when the awards are announced.
The books are judged by a jury predominantly made up YA writers so the perspective is very different from other awards. Another difference is that a short list will be announced; in this case on October 15th. The field gets whittled down from10 books to five. How exciting is that?!
The books under consideration are:
Laurie Halse Anderson, “The Impossible Knife of Memory” [A terrific and prolific writer whose work includes the amazing Speak. I have just started the book and, so far, it's awfully good]
Gail Giles, “Girls Like Us” (Candlewick Press) [I have loved Gail Giles' work and this seems to be a bit different from her earlier books. That makes me want to read it all the more!]
Carl Hiaasen, “Skink — No Surrender” (Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers/Random House) [I just finished this one and I have to say that I don't think it's NBA worthy. Sorry Mr. Hiaasen. It's a good mystery but I don't think it transcends the genre in any way]
Kate Milford, “Greenglass House” (Clarion Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) [I don't know a thing about this one, I'm sorry to say. I have to get on that]
Eliot Schrefer, “Threatened” (Scholastic Press/Scholastic) [Schrefer's first book with Scholastic was Endangered which was a great story of saving the bonobo apes in the Congo. It was a NBA finalist. Imagine that!]
Steve Sheinkin, “The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights” (Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan Publishers) [This is an EXTRAORDINARY book. Sheinkin is such an incredible story tell and he writes non-fiction. Amazing! This civil rights story is one I was entirely unaware of and am so glad to know about. He was previously an NBA finalist for his superlative book, Bomb: The Race to Build - And Steal -The World's Most Dangerous Weapon].
Andrew Smith, “100 Sideways Miles” (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster) [Andrew Smith got all kinds of great attention with his novel called Winger. I have not tackled this one yet but I have high hopes]
John Corey Whaley, “Noggin” (Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster) [OK, a 16 year-old comes back to life via cryogenics. That's a wild story idea if I've ever heard it!]
Deborah Wiles, “Revolution: The Sixties Trilogy, Book Two” (Scholastic Press/Scholastic) [This is an AMAZING book! Book Two in her Sixties trilogy, this one deals with the Freedom Summer in 1964 in Mississippi. Beautifully written and the characterization is wonderful. This one is a treasure!]
Jacqueline Woodson, “Brown Girl Dreaming” (Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin Group) [I can't think of a memoir I admire more. Jacqueline Woodson tells of her life growing up Black in the South but it is not a polemic. I loved the insights she provided and I found that her Mom and my Mom had some of the same "sayings" we both heard again and again. Prejudice definitely impacted her life but what I loved most was the warmth and caring of her grandparents and parents. It was spectacular. Did I mention it is written in poetry? I found myself reading and rereading poems and loving them]
I have not read all of them yet, obviously, but so far my top three are (in no particular order): Brown Girl Dreaming, Revolution, and The Port Chicago 50. I’ll keep reading and report back.