The ALA Youth Media Awards will be announced in less than two weeks and the listservs are buzzing.
Below are the titles that people are talking about and my own “dream world” picks.
Unspoken: A Story From the Underground Railroad by Henry Cole, (Scholastic)
Green by Laura Vaccaro Seegerm, (Macmillan/ Roaring Brook)
Heroes of the Surf by Elisa Carbone, illus by Nancy Carpenter, (Penguin/ Viking)
Step Gently Out by Helen Frost, Photos by Rick Lieder, (Candlewick)
In my dream world, the winner would be:
Looking at Lincoln, written and illustrated by Maira Kalman, (Penguin/Nancy Paulsen)
A book that is so fresh and surprising that I discover something new every time I open the pages. Kalman weaves together facts and reflection as processed through a young girl discovering Lincoln, the man as well as Lincoln the president. Her gouache paintings with ink lines draw the reader in to the historic scenes, noticing tiny details like the dog accompanying Lincoln as he reads by the fire. The art can be witty as well as emotionally moving as we join the narrator in mourning Lincoln’s death.
The following are buzz titles — all received best books nods:
Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead, (RH/Wendy Lamb Books)
Wonder, R.J. Palacio, (RH/ Knopf Young Readers; Brilliance Audio)The One and Only Ivan, Katherine Applegate, Patricia Castelao, (HarperCollins)
The Wild Book by Margarita Engle, (Harcourt)
In my dream world (and it is MY dream world, so we can have a tie):
Almost Home by Joan Bauer (Penguin/Viking)
What is it about Joan Bauer that she captures the real? Her characters are all real to me. At no time do I experience disbelief as I feel I have entered another human being’s thoughts and feelings. I know the narrator Sugar, a kid with too much responsibility. In this book we see trauma, but we also see hope. We see that things can change in a story that speaks perfectly to the Newbery age group, allows children to live a life unlike their own, and gives us an opportunity to flex empathy muscles as well as enjoy a satisfying story.
Wonder, R.J. Palacio, (RH/ Knopf Young Readers; Brilliance Audio)
This one is on both the buzz list and my dream list. It has appeared on more best books lists than any other title for its age group and was one of my picks as a Best Book to Give Kids You Don’t Know Very Well:
“This stunning debut novel about a home-schooled boy with a facial disfigurement who attends school for the first time has hit the bestsellers lists. I suspect it is grownups, teachers and librarians that are making that happen. I am hoping that this book with its multiple points-of-view finds itself in the hands of middle-school children who desperately need permission to make mistakes, make amends, and begin again.”
After the jump, picks for the Sibert and the Printz.
A Black Hole Is Not a Hole by Carolyn Cirami de Christofano, (Charlesbridge)
Beyond Courage: The Untold Story of Jewish Resistance During the Holocaust by Doreen Rappaport, (Candlewick)
Citizen Scientists: Be a Part of Scientific Discovery from Your Own Backyard by Loree Griffin Burns, photos by Ellen Harasimowicz, (Macmillan/Holt)
Unusual Creatures: A Mostly Accurate Account of Some of Earth’s Strangest Animals by Jelmer Noordeman, (Chronicle)
Marching to the Mountaintop: How Poverty, Labor Fights and Civil Rights Set the Stage for Martin Luther King Jr’s Final Hours by Ann Bausum, (National Geographic Children’s Books)
We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March by Cynthia Levinson, (Peachtree)
In my dream world:
No Crystal Stair, by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie, (Lerner/Carolrhoda)
One of my picks for Best Books to Give Kids You Don’t Know Very Well:
“Although classified as fiction, the author used archival materials, extensive bibliographic resources and interviews to create a ‘documentary novel of the life and work of Lewis Michaux, Harlem bookseller.’ She describes the impact that one man had on an entire community as “just a book bookstore owner.” Christie’s paintings evoke a time, a place and a people. A splendid volume to give adults as well as teens.
Son by Lois Lowry, (HMH)
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Saenz, (Simon & Schuster)
Every Day by David Levithan, (RH/ Knopf Books for Young Readers)
Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick, (HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray) — a National Book Awards finalist
The Wicked and the Just by J. Anderson Coats, (Harcourt Children’s)
Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne, (Macmillan/Feiwel & Friends)
In my dream world:
Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein, (Hyperion)
This one also qualifies as a buzz title, having appeared on several best books lists. It’s also one of my Best Books to Give Kids you Don’t Know Very Well:
“Did you know that the Royal Air Force employed women as pilots and couriers to serve in occupied France during World War II? This historic novel weaves the stories of young women who risked their lives to save others during the darkest days of the war. Wein begins this heart-wrenching story with the memoir-like writings of a captured British spy. This is more than a ‘war story.’ It is a tale of friendship and love, of courage and endurance that is so suspenseful, I could barely catch my breath to turn the page.”