Friday, September 20, 2013

The 'New and Improved' National Book Awards

Dang!  There's nothing better than an awards shortlist to make a librarian feel out of touch.  As news reports have noted, the National Book Awards have revamped their announcement process to be like more high profile awards, like Britain's Booker Prize, and released a 'long list' of Young People's Literature nominees on Monday (to be followed by a 'short list' in a couple of months, and the winner in late winter).  This rationed approach has already had its desired effect on at least one person (me), because I've just become aware of four YA titles I'd never heard of before. 

About half of the titles on the longlist seem to be for a middle and upper-elementary readers, while half feel more like "Young Adult" (ages 12-18-ish) .  I'm looking forward to reading the five YA titles, promoting them to students, and hoping one of them becomes the 2013 National Book Award winner.

So here's the complete longlist for 2013 "Young People's Literature" (with my annotations):

Kathi Appelt. The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp.    
   By a Newbery honoree, and it sounds intriguing. Sort of like a humorous Beasts of the Southern Wild, in the Delta swamps, with Yetis and other mythical creatures.  Maybe more appealing to younger Paideia readers -- will have to check it out.

Kate DiCamillo.  Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures. 
    I know about this author -- she wrote Tale of Despereaux.   A girl and a poetry writing flying superhero squirrel.  Cute, but maybe for more for the Despereaux audience (grades 3-7).

Lisa Graff. A Tangle of Knots.
   Oh dear, totally never heard of this one.  The description sounds totally charming: an 11-year-old orphan, individual stories intertwined into one mystery-to-be-revealed, but again, on the "Rather Young People" side, not quite teenager-ish YA.

Alaya Dawn Johnson.  The Summer Prince.   (NPR review)
Ok, this one sounds like actual YA.  The faerie legend of the exalted and doomed Summer King, set in future dystopian Brazil.   I only heard of it Monday, when Greg ordered it for his junior high classroom (thanks Greg!), but can think of at least 3 other YA novels with a similar inspiration.  Will get for the library, and maybe even do a booktalk on the theme.


Cynthia Kadohata.  The Thing About Luck.
 I know Cindy Kadohata, first as the Newbery award-winning author of Kira-Kira and second as a fellow adoptive mom (her son Sammy was adopted from Kazakhstan).  From the description (Japanese-American children spending summer with grandparents in rural America), I'm thinking that this will find its readership in the elementary library rather than here.

David Levithan. Two Boys Kissing.  (Los Angeles Times review)
All of Levithan's books (Boy Meets Boy, Will Grayson Will Grayson, Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist and others) are read here, and this one, with its serious themes of love and loss, will be read as well.  An ex-couple participate in a kissing marathon for a Guiness World Record, a protest against a hate-crime committeed against another gay friend, narrated by ghosts of the AIDS generation. A no-brainer purchase, and a real prize contender. 

Tom McNeal. Far Far Away.  (Horn Book review) 
According to Booklist, this is "a masterful story of outcasts, the power of faith, and the triumph of good over evil."  Alrighty then, count me in.  I generally prefer good to triumph over evil, especially when it's the ghost of Jacob Grimm and two teenagers from the village of Never Better, against bitter vengeance in the form of delicious Prince Cakes (made with real village children), and so do many of our faithful readers.

Meg Rosoff.  Picture Me Gone.   (first chapter and author interview in The Guardian) 
Rosoff is universally acclaimed, but her books are not widely read at Paideia.  They are unpredictable, and each is very different from the other (no series writer is she). This one centers around the mystery of her father's missing friend, but is really about Mira's relationship with her father, and the secrets adults keep.  I will probably read this from the public library (I'm sharing my professional secrets here!) before deciding whether to buy it for Paideia.

Anne Ursu. The Real Boy.
  As a sequel to Breadcrumbs, a fast-circulating title in the elementary library, I know already to leave this one to Natalie for consideration.  I'm sure she'll get it -- sounds charming.

Gene Luen Yang.  Boxers & Saints(LA Times review/interview) 
Gene Yang is a staple around here -- his American Born Chinese has been a reading bowl selection, and is sometimes read in Junior High lit classes.  I got to read a preview of this new 2-volume historical fiction /graphic novel last spring -- the two volumes tell parallel stories of young characters involved in opposing sides of China's violent Boxer Rebellion -- and it's a winner.  For sure we'll have this one in our collection, and I'll booktalk it frequently.

The longlists for poetry, non-fiction and fiction, as well as lifetime and first time author awards have also been announced.  Find all that info at the NBF website.

Check out annotations and links for all 10 longlisted Young People's titles at The Daily Beast.   Which sounds most intriguing to you?

No comments: