Sunday, October 25, 2009

Book Award Update Part 1: National Book Award

I have been a bad blogger of late. I thought things would settle down once I started my job as a school librarian, but then I started training for a half-marathon and became a judge for the first round of the Cybils. So if I'm not at school, running or reading, I'm sleeping. Needless to say, I've missed out on giving you updates on several book awards. In this post (and two future ones), I make up for that.

There are so many books out there, and so many new ones published each year, each with a cover and jacket summary prettier and more intriguing than the next. So how do know what to put at the top of your "to be read" pile? Enter book awards! The panelists/judges for these awards read through scores of books to find the best of the best, so you can focus your reading time on books that truly deserve your attention.

And so I bring to you Part 1 in my Book Award Update mini-series...

National Book Award: The mission of the National Book Award Foundation is "to celebrate the best of American literature, to expand its audience, and to enhance the cultural value of good writing in America." For this award, independent panels of five writers choose winners in four categories: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry and Young People's Literature. Finalists were announced on October 14th, and the winners will be announced on November 18th.

This year's finalists for Young People's Literature are:

Deborah Heiligman, Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith (Henry Holt)
Phillip Hoose, Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
David Small, Stitches: A Memoir (W. W. Norton & Co.)
Laini Taylor, Lips Touch: Three Times (Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic)
Rita Williams-Garcia, Jumped (HarperTeen/HarperCollins)

And those writers who are doing the judging?

Kathi Appelt, Coe Booth, Carolyn Coman, Nancy Werlin and Gene Luen Yang

I've only read one of these titles thus far, but the rest have been on my "TBR" pile seemingly since I first heard about them. Gotta work on that.

But what fun would a book award be without controversy? Some folks are angry about David Small's Stitches as a finalist because it was published as an adult graphic novel. Others on the younger end of the spectrum feel that this list of "Young People's Literature" is too heavily geared towards teens.

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