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A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy
Inside A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy

William C. Morris YA Debut Award

The finalists for the 2011 William C. Morris YA Debut Award have been announced! The winner will be announced at ALA Midwinter. I have only read one of the four books (I know!) and am trying to get copies so that I can read the other four.  

hush William C. Morris YA Debut AwardHush by Eishes Chayil, published by Walker Publishing Company, a division of Bloomsbury Publishing, Inc.   

From YALSA: “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.”  

From the Publisher: “A lyrically written, powerful exploration of a girl’s struggle within a hidden society. Inside the closed community of Borough Park, where most Chassidim live, the rules of life are very clear, determined by an ancient script written thousands of years before down to the last detail—and abuse has never been a part of it. But when thirteen-year-old Gittel learns of the abuse her best friend has suffered at the hands of her own family member, the adults in her community try to persuade Gittel, and themselves, that nothing happened. Forced to remain silent, Gittel begins to question everything she was raised to believe. A richly detailed and nuanced book, one of both humor and depth, understanding and horror, this story explains a complex world that remains an echo of its past, and illuminates the conflict between yesterday’s traditions and today’s reality.”   

From my review:Hush is a fascinating and brutally honest examination of what happens to a family and community that believes that if they think child sexual abuse doesn’t happen, then it doesn’t happen, and anything — or anyone — that says otherwise should be quieted, excluded, shunned, hushed. Best to act as if nothing ever happened. I could not read this book in one sitting. I had to put it down, take deep breaths, literally walk away. “ 

guardian William C. Morris YA Debut Award Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey, published by Little, Brown and Company/Hachette Book Group. 

From YALSA: “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. “ 

From the Publisher: ”You’re Ellie Spencer.” I opened my mouth, just as he added, “And your eyes are opening.” Seventeen-year-old Ellie Spencer is just like any other teenager at her boarding school. She hangs out with her best friend Kevin, she obsesses over Mark, a cute and mysterious bad boy, and her biggest worry is her paper deadline. But then everything changes. The news headlines are all abuzz about a local string of serial killings that all share the same morbid trademark: the victims were discovered with their eyes missing.” 

hold William C. Morris YA Debut AwardHold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride, published by Henry Holt 

 From YALSA: “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.” 

 From the Publisher: ”Sam leads a pretty normal life. He may not have the most exciting job in the world, but he’s doing all right—until a fast food prank brings him to the attention of Douglas, a creepy guy with an intense violent streak. Turns out Douglas is a necromancer who raises the dead for cash and sees potential in Sam. Then Sam discovers he’s a necromancer too, but with strangely latent powers. And his worst nightmare wants to join forces . . . or else. With only a week to figure things out, Sam needs all the help he can get. Luckily he lives in Seattle, which has nearly as many paranormal types as it does coffee places. But even with newfound friends, will Sam be able to save his skin?” 

Crossing the Tracks by Barbara Stuber, published by Margaret McElderry Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division crossing William C. Morris YA Debut Award 

From YALSA: “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.” 

From the Publisher: “At fifteen, Iris is a hobo of sorts — no home, no family, no direction. After her mother’s early death, Iris’s father focuses on big plans for his new shoe stores and his latest girlfriend, and has no time for his daughter. Unbeknownst to her, he hires Iris out as housekeeper and companion for a country doctor’s elderly mother. Suddenly Iris is alone, stuck in gritty rural Missouri, too far from her only friend Leroy and too close to a tenant farmer, Cecil Deets, who menaces the neighbors and, Iris suspects, his own daughter. Iris is buoyed by the warmth and understanding the doctor and his mother show her, but just as she starts to break out of her shell, tragedy strikes. Iris must find the guts and cunning to take aim at the devil incarnate and discover if she is really as helpless—or as hopeless—as she once believed. Lyrical, yet humorous, Barbara Stuber’s debut novel is the unforgettable story of a girl who struggles to cast aside her long-standing grief and doubt and, in the span of one dusty summer, learn to trust, hope, and—ultimately—love.” 

flux William C. Morris YA Debut AwardThe Freak Observer by Blythe Woolston, published by Carolrhoda Lab, an imprint of Carolrhoda Books, a division of Lerner Publishing Group  

From YALSA: “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.” 

From the Publisher: ”The Freak Observer is rich in family drama, theoretical physics, and an unusual, tough young woman—Loa Lindgren. For eight years, Loa Sollilja’s world ran like one of those mechanical models of the solar system, with her baby sister, Asta, as the sun. Asta suffered from a genetic disorder that left her a permanent infant, and caring for her was Loa’s life. Everything spun neatly and regularly as the whole family orbited around Asta. But now Asta’s dead, and 16-year-old Loa’s clockwork galaxy has collapsed. As Loa spins off on her own, her mind ambushes her with vivid nightmares and sadistic flashbacks―a textbook case of PTSD. But there are no textbook fixes for Loa’s short-circuiting brain. She must find her own way to pry her world from the clutches of death. The Freak Observer is a startling debut about death, life, astrophysics, and finding beauty in chaos.”  

Thanks to the Morris Committee! I look forward to reading and reviewing the remaining four books and cannot wait to see what title gets the Award.Members of the 2011 William C. Morris Award are: Chair Summer Hayes, King County Library System, Tukwila, Wash.; Karen E. Brooks-Reese, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh; Carol Edwards, Denver Public Library; Alison M. Hendon, Brooklyn (N.Y.) Public Library; Diana Tixier Herald, Mesa County Valley School District #51, Grand Junction, Colo.; RoseMary Honnold, Voice of Youth Advocates, Coshocton, Ohio; Kathleen Taylor Isaacs, Pasadena, Md.; Angie Manfredi, Los Alamos County (N.M.) Library System; Adela Peskorz, Metropolitan State University Library and Learning Center, St. Paul, Minn.; and Amy Anderson, administrative assistant, Bellevue (Wash.) Regional Library. 

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About Elizabeth Burns

Looking for a place to talk about young adult books? Pull up a chair, have a cup of tea, and let's chat. I am a New Jersey librarian. My opinions do not reflect those of my employer, SLJ, YALSA, or anyone else. On Twitter I'm @LizB; my email is lizzy.burns@gmail.com.

Comments

  1. Ilsa J. Bick says:

    Who says small publishers don’t put out fabulous books? Go, Blythe!!! Carolrhoda Lab rocks!

    Okay, I’ll calm down now . . . ;-)

  2. Angela Carstensen Liz B says:

    Ilsa, it is nice to see the range of publishers! I was happy to see Carolrhoda LAB and I was also happy to see the Eishes Chayil book. In this day of social media when authors are encouraged to blog, Tweet, etc., it’s nice to see a book get attention without that type of author social networking.

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  1. [...] Good: The Freak Observer is on the shortlist for the Morris Award. Which means, in a nutshell, that The Freak Observer has been recognized as one of the five best [...]

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