I’ve now had the opportunity to read and review all five books on the National Book Awards Shortlist for Young People’s Literature!
The Young People’s Literature list:
Kathi Appelt, The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp (Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster). My review. “Appelt is telling us a story, and it’s written as if someone is indeed telling me a story and there was something that just felt so right about that. Comforting or safe — no, those aren’t the right words. Rather, it was the coziness of feeling as if someone was sitting next to me, sharing. It made the story seem personal; it made it seem mine.”
Cynthia Kadohata, The Thing About Luck (Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster). My review. “What a perfect middle grade book. Summer, 12, is a sympathetic heroine. When she got annoyed and frustrated with her younger brother and grandparents, I was right there with her. When she was embarrassing herself in front of her crush, I blushed for her. When she figured out a way to help her family, I cheered.”
Tom McNeal, Far Far Away (Alfred A. Knopf/Random House). My review. “Because there is a ghost, because the Finder of the Obvious has a name out of a child’s story, because the reader has been told about fairy tales over and over, for a few moments there I thought this would be a fantastical danger. I forgot that while Jacob is a ghost, or sees things from a nineteenth century perspective, Jeremy’s world is our world. The danger is not a witch or a dragon. It is a person. And a person can be the most dangerous thing of all. I thought, silly me, that since this was about fairy tales I would laugh a little. And I did. But I also cried, and was scared, and wondered at just how Jeremy could be delivered from the danger he was in because it seemed so hopeless.”
Meg Rosoff, Picture Me Gone (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, a division of Penguin Group USA). My review. “”Picture Me Gone is about that moment, of realization, of parents not being perfect; of things being bigger than oneself; of not being the center of the universe; and of growing up. “We are all woven together, like a piece of cloth, and we all support each other, for better or worse. Gabriel is just a baby but eventually he will see the world and his father as they are: imperfect, dangerous, peppered with betrayals and also with love.” ”
Gene Luen Yang, Boxers & Saints (First Second/Macmillan). My review. “But isn’t that history? Things that change depend upon perspective? One person’s hero is another’s murderer? What Yang accomplishes here, what is so terrific, is he manages to have the reader by sympathetic to both Bao’s and Vibiana’s beliefs. Yes, Bao — and other Chinese — are subject to humiliations and abuse because of the foreigners, and because of Christian missionaries. Yet switch to the missionaries and to the Chinese Christians and we see people asked, simply, to decide between life and faith. Everyday people, not the decision makers.”
What do I think will win? What do I want to win?
Well, I love that there is a range of ages represented here. I also like that the Yang book was viewed as one text in two volumes — and that a graphic novel was included.
I love that there is fantasy and contemporary and historical fiction.
What I think will win: The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp
What I want to win: Picture Me Gone
What do you think?