Earlier the week, The National Book Foundation announced the 2013 long list for awards in four categories: Young People’s Literature, Poetry, Nonfiction, and Fiction. The foundation describes the awards as follows:
On March 15, 1950, a consortium of book publishing groups sponsored the first annual National Book Awards Ceremony and Dinner at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York City. Their goal was to enhance the public’s awareness of exceptional books written by fellow Americans, and to increase the popularity of reading in general.
Since then, The National Book Awards have become the nation’s preeminent literary prizes, and The National Book Awards Ceremony and Dinner the most important event on our literary calendar. Today, the Awards are given to recognize achievements in four genres: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Young People’s Literature. The Winners, selected by five-member, independent judging panels for each genre, receive a $10,000 cash award and a crystal sculpture.
We’ll be compiling four separate posts, one for each category (Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Young People’s Literature). Below you’ll find descriptions for each of the ten nominees in Young People’s Literature. Check back for links to our review of each title as they become available.
The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp
By Kathi Appelt
Meet Bingo and J’miah, raccoon brothers on a mission to save Sugar Man Swamp in this tale from Newbery Honoree Kathi Appelt.Raccoon brothers Bingo and J’miah are the newest recruits of the Official Sugar Man Swamp Scouts. The opportunity to serve the Sugar Man–the massive creature who delights in delicious sugar cane and magnanimously rules over the swamp–is an honor, and also a big responsibility, since the rest of the swamp critters rely heavily on the intel of these hardworking Scouts.Twelve-year-old Chap Brayburn is not a member of any such organization. But he loves the swamp something fierce, and he’ll do anything to help protect it.And help is surely needed, because world-class alligator wrestler Jaeger Stitch wants to turn Sugar Man swamp into an Alligator World Wrestling Arena and Theme Park, and the troubles don’t end there. There is also a gang of wild feral hogs on the march, headed straight toward them all.The Scouts are ready. All they have to do is wake up the Sugar Man. Problem is, no one’s been able to wake that fellow up in a decade or four…Newbery Honoree and National Book Award finalist Kathi Appelt presents a story of care and conservation, funny as all get out and ripe for reading aloud. (from the hardcover edition)
Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures
By Kate DiCamillo
Holy unanticipated occurrences! A cynic meets an unlikely superhero in a genre-breaking new novel by master storyteller Kate DiCamillo. It begins, as the best superhero stories do, with a tragic accident that has unexpected consequences. The squirrel never saw the vacuum cleaner coming, but self-described cynic Flora Belle Buckman, who has read every issue of the comic book Terrible Things Can Happen to You!, is the just the right person to step in and save him. What neither can predict is that Ulysses (the squirrel) has been born anew, with powers of strength, flight, and misspelled poetry—and that Flora will be changed too, as she discovers the possibility of hope and the promise of a capacious heart. From #1 New York Times best-selling author Kate DiCamillo comes a laugh-out-loud story filled with eccentric, endearing characters and featuring an exciting new format—a novel interspersed with comic-style graphic sequences and full-page illustrations, all rendered in black-and-white by up-and-coming artist K. G. Campbell. (From the hardcover edition)
A Tangle of Knots
By Lisa Graff
Told in multiple viewpoints, A Tangle of Knots is a magnificent puzzle. In a slightly magical world where everyone has a Talent, eleven-year-old Cady is an orphan with a phenomenal Talent for cake baking. But little does she know that fate has set her on a journey from the moment she was born. And her destiny leads her to a mysterious address that houses a lost luggage emporium, an old recipe, a family of children searching for their own Talents, and a Talent Thief who will alter her life forever. However, these encounters hold the key to Cady’s past and how she became an orphan. If she’s lucky, fate may reunite her with her long-lost parent. (From the hardcover edition)
The Summer Prince
By Alaya Dawn Johnson
A heart-stopping story of love, death, technology, and art set amid the tropics of a futuristic Brazil.
The lush city of Palmares Tres shimmers with tech and tradition, with screaming gossip casters and practiced politicians. In the midst of this vibrant metropolis, June Costa creates art that’s sure to make her legendary. But her dreams of fame become something more when she meets Enki, the bold new Summer King. The whole city falls in love with him (including June’s best friend, Gil). But June sees more to Enki than amber eyes and a lethal samba. She sees a fellow artist.
Together, June and Enki will stage explosive, dramatic projects that Palmares Tres will never forget. They will add fuel to a growing rebellion against the government’s strict limits on new tech. And June will fall deeply, unfortunately in love with Enki. Because like all Summer Kings before him, Enki is destined to die.
Pulsing with the beat of futuristic Brazil, burning with the passions of its characters, and overflowing with ideas, this fiery novel will leave you eager for more from Alaya Dawn Johnson. (From the hardcover edition)
The Thing About Luck
By Cynthia Kadohata
Summer knows that kouun means “good luck” in Japanese, and this year her family has none of it. Just when she thinks nothing else can possibly go wrong, an emergency whisks her parents away to Japan—right before harvest season. Summer and her little brother, Jaz, are left in the care of their grandparents, who come out of retirement in order to harvest wheat and help pay the bills.
The thing about Obaachan and Jiichan is that they are old-fashioned and demanding, and between helping Obaachan cook for the workers, covering for her when her back pain worsens, and worrying about her lonely little brother, Summer just barely has time to notice the attentions of their boss’s cute son. But notice she does, and what begins as a welcome distraction from the hard work soon turns into a mess of its own.
Having thoroughly disappointed her grandmother, Summer figures the bad luck must be finished—but then it gets worse. And when that happens, Summer has to figure out how to change it herself, even if it means further displeasing Obaachan. Because it might be the only way to save her family. (From the hardcover edition)
Two Boys Kissing
By David Levithan
In his follow-up to the New York Times bestselling Every Day, David Levithan, co-author of bestsellers Will Grayson, Will Grayson and Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, tells the based-on-true-events story of Harry and Craig, two 17-year-olds who are about to take part in a 32-hour marathon of kissing to set a new Guinness World Record–all of which is narrated by a Greek Chorus of the generation of gay men lost to AIDS. While the two increasingly dehydrated and sleep-deprived boys are locking lips, they become a focal point in the lives of other teen boys dealing with languishing long-term relationships, coming out, navigating gender identity, and falling deeper into the digital rabbit hole of gay hookup sites–all while the kissing former couple tries to figure out their own feelings for each other. (from the hardcover edition)
Far Far Away
By Tom McNeal
Jeremy Johnson Johnson hears voices. Or, specifically, one voice: the ghost of Jacob Grimm, one half of The Brothers Grimm. Jacob watches over Jeremy, protecting him from an unknown dark evil whispered about in the space between this world and the next.
But Jacob can’t protect Jeremy from everything. When coltish, copper-haired Ginger Boultinghouse takes a bite of a cake so delicious it’s rumored to be bewitched, she falls in love with the first person she sees: Jeremy. In any other place, this would be a turn for the better for Jeremy, but not in Never Better, where the Finder of Occasions–whose identity and evil intentions nobody knows–is watching and waiting, waiting and watching. . . And as anyone familiar with the Brothers Grimm know, not all fairy tales have happy endings. (From the hardcover edition)
Picture Me Gone
By Meg Rosoff
Mila has an exceptional talent for reading a room—sensing hidden facts and unspoken emotions from clues that others overlook. So when her father’s best friend, Matthew, goes missing from his upstate New York home, Mila and her beloved father travel from London to find him. She collects information about Matthew from his belongings, from his wife and baby, from the dog he left behind and from the ghosts of his past—slowly piecing together the story everyone else has missed. But just when she’s closest to solving the mystery, a shocking betrayal calls into question her trust in the one person she thought she could read best. (From the hardcover edition)
The Real Boy
By Anne Ursu
The Real Boy, Anne Ursu’s follow-up to her widely acclaimed and beloved middle-grade fantasy Breadcrumbs, is an unforgettable story of magic, faith, and friendship.On an island on the edge of an immense sea there is a city, a forest, and a boy named Oscar. Oscar is a shop boy for the most powerful magician in the village, and spends his days in a small room in the dark cellar of his master’s shop grinding herbs and dreaming of the wizards who once lived on the island generations ago. Oscar’s world is small, but he likes it that way. The real world is vast, strange, and unpredictable. And Oscar does not quite fit in it.But now that world is changing. Children in the city are falling ill, and something sinister lurks in the forest. Oscar has long been content to stay in his small room in the cellar, comforted in the knowledge that the magic that flows from the forest will keep his island safe. Now, even magic may not be enough to save it. (From the hardcover edition)
Boxers & Saints
By Gene Luen Yang
In two volumes, Boxers & Saints tells two parallel stories. The first is of Little Bao, a Chinese peasant boy whose village is abused and plundered by Westerners claiming the role of missionaries. Little Bao, inspired by visions of the Chinese gods, joins a violent uprising against the Western interlopers. Against all odds, their grass-roots rebellion is successful. (From the hardcover edition)
Have you read any of the ten nominees for the 2013 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature Prize? Which was your favorite? Comment below!