Awards Season

Award season is soon upon us, at least in the YA world, where the ALA will announce their big prizes (Newberry, Printz) in January. Last month, the National Book Award was bestowed on Kathryn Erskine’s Mockingbird (not be confused with the megahit Mockingjay!). And earlier this week YALSA announced the finalists for the William C. Morris Award, which honors a book written by a previously unpublished author. That designation is tricky, because many “debut novelists” have written other types of books before (nonfiction, an adult book, an educational work-for-hire, you name it), and are thus disqualified from consideration.

The Morris finalists are below. I admit I hadn’t really heard of many of these, but they all sound intriguing. Some may have to be added to my ever-growing to-be-read pile. What do you think of the finalists? What stellar debuts are missing from this list? Share your thoughts in the comments!

YALSA is also giving an award for the best nonfiction title. Which makes sense, because more and more excellent nonfiction books geared to young people are being published. I’m actually currently reading Susan Bartoletti’s They Called Themselves the K.K.K., so it’s nice to se this stellar book among the finalists for the excellence in nonfiction prize. I’ll post those finalists below as well.

The winners will be announced on January 10th. Congrats to all the finalists! More info on the Morris Award can be found here.

2011 Morris Finalists

HushGuardian of the DeadHold Me Closer, NecromancerCrossing the TracksThe Freak Observer

By Eishes Chayil, published by Walker Publishing Company, a division of Bloomsbury Publishing, Inc.

Growing up in her insular Chassidic Jewish community has always made Gittel feel secure and given her a sense of belonging. But when her best friend, Devory, hangs herself after being sexually abused, her faith in the group is challenged and only gradually does she find ways to express her desire for the community to deal with the issue.

Guardian of the Dead

By Karen Healey, published by Little, Brown and Company/Hachette Book Group

Seventeen-year-old Ellie Spencer is just trying to make it through her last year of high school, but a chance interaction with the school’s weirdo, Mark Nolan, puts her on a very different path filled with Maori legends come to life.

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer

By Lish McBride, published by Henry Holt

Sam thinks his life working in a fast food restaurant is awful. But when he’s confronted by a powerful necromancer, he learns that everything he thought was true about his life — isn’t.

Crossing the Tracks

By Barbara Stuber, published by Margaret McElderry Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division

In the 1920s, Iris’ emotionally distant father sends her to rural Missouri to act as a companion to an elderly woman while he heads to Kansas City with his fiance. Iris’ mother died when she was five, and it takes her some time to learn to care for Mrs. Nesbitt and see her own future with optimism.

The Freak Observer

By Blythe Woolston, published by Carolrhoda Lab, an imprint of Carolrhoda Books, a division of Lerner Publishing Group

Loa, a strong, intelligent, hardworking sixteen-year-old experiences a year of loss: the death of her sister who was born with a genetic disorder, her lifelong friend who was killed in an accident, her best friend who has gone to Europe, and even her dog. While trying to take care of her family and make it through school she ponders the laws of physics and tries to understand what can never make sense.

2011 Nonfiction Finalists

Janis Joplin: Rise Up SingingThey Called Themselves the KKK: The Birth of an American Terrorist GroupSpies of Mississippi:  The True Story of the Spy Network that Tried to Destroy the Civil Rights MovementDark Game: True Spy Stories Every Bone Tells a Story: Hominin Discoveries, Deductions, and Debates

Janis Joplin: Rise Up Singing

By Ann Angel, published by Amulet/Abrams

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.

They Called Themselves the KKK: The Birth of an American Terrorist Group

By Susan Campbell Bartoletti, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

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.

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

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.

The Dark Game: True Spy Stories

By Paul Janeczko, published by Candlewick Press

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.

Every Bone Tells a Story: Hominin Discoveries, Deductions, and Debates

By Jill Rubalcaba and Peter Robertshaw, published by Charlesbridge

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.


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