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A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy
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YALSA ENYA Finalists

The YALSA’s Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults is one of two awards where YALSA announces a list of finalists, and then announces the winner in January. Edited to add: the Award went to Bomb by Steve Sheinkin.

This year’s committee released it’s shortlist in December. Here are the titles, from YALSA’s the Hub:

Titanic: Voices from the Disaster, written by Deborah Hopkinson, published by Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic. From my review: “The story is told using the first-hand accounts of the men, women and children who were on the Titanic, both crew and first-, second-, and third-class passengers. While some of the people were familiar to me (teenage Jack Thayer’s miraculous survival), others were not, such as Frankie Goldsmith, a young boy travelling third-class with his family. Their voices add an immediacy to the story, emphasizing the personal stories of survival. Particularly heartbreaking are the final moments between family members.

Bomb: The Race to Build — and Steal — the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon, written by Steve Sheinkin, published by Flash Point/Roaring Brook Press, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group. From my review: “One of the reasons I like non-fiction is it shows why spoilers don’t matter. Most readers will know that the Americans were indeed the first to create and use the atomic bomb; so it’s not about whether it happens, but how and why.”

Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95, written by Phillip Hoose, published by Farrar Straus Giroux, an imprint of Macmillan children’s Publishing Group. From my review: “Most of Moonbird is about the year-long migratory cycle that the rufa red knots make. Woven in is deeper information, from the process of banding birds (how the birds are captured, the color-coding different countries have used since 2003) to the relatively recent discovery that the Delaware Bay is one of the stops on that path. This is a part of New Jersey culture I didn’t know about, not at all! I love how Moonbird doesn’t just present facts and figures; it explains how that knowledge was gained. It’s not just the findings of scientists, it’s also the work of scientists, which is always ongoing.

Steve Jobs: The Man Who Thought Different, a biography by Karen Blumenthal, published by Feiwel & Friends, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group. From my review: Steve Jobs is a fascinating look at a complex man. Yes, he was, at times, self centered and not the greatest manager. But what really is a “great manager”? Is it someone who is liked, or is it someone who gets things done? Jobs got things done — and part of the value of a biography like this, that is not all puppies and daffodils and rainbows, is showing the reader this. Since this is a book for teens, I think it’s almost more valuable for them, who are still figuring things out, to know that someone who isn’t “nice” can accomplish great things; and that just because someone accomplishes terrific things, it doesn’t mean they are “nice.” Life is not that simplistic.”

We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March, written by Cynthia Levinson, published by Peachtree Publishers. From my review: “We’ve Got A Job is a unique look at the civil rights movement, by looking at an event that was primarily about children and teenagers. Four teenagers are highlighted, Audrey Hendricks, the youngest participant at age nine, and three high school students, Washington Booker III, James W. Stewart, and Arnetta Streeter. Audrey, Wash, James, and Arnetta reflect the diversity of the African American community in Birmingham in 1963, in terms of involvement in the civil rights movement as well as socioeconomic background. Some, like Audrey, are from families active in the movement; others get involved on their own. Being African American in Birmingham 1963 means that whether a person is the child of a dental assistant or doctor, those different backgrounds don’t matter when it comes to using a library, attending to school, eating at a restaurant, or attending a movie. It’s not about whether you can afford the dress in the store or the ice cream at the lunch counter; it’s about the color of your skin.”

The winner is announced at the Youth Media Awards at ALA’s Midwinter Meeting on January 28.

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