November 20, 2017

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Finalists Announced for the 2016 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature

nba2016finalistsThe National Book Foundation has named the finalists for the 2016 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. From a longlist of 10 titles, announced on September 12, five books were selected. The winners of the 67th annual National Book Awards will be revealed at a November 16 dinner and ceremony at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City, which will be streamed live on the foundation’s website. Winners receive $10,000 and a bronze medal and statue; finalists, $1,000 and a bronze medal.

Here are the five finalists, with the corresponding SLJ reviews:

KATE DICAMILLO, RAYMIE NIGHTINGALE (CANDLEWICK)

DiCamillo Raymie Nightingale

redstarDICAMILLO, Kate. Raymie Nightingale. 272p. Candlewick. Apr. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763681173.

Gr 4-7–Raymie Clarke has a plan. Her father has run off with a dental hygienist without a word, but Raymie is certain that if she wins the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition, her father will see her picture in the newspaper and return. To this end, she begins baton-twirling classes with two other girls, Louisiana Elefante and Beverly Tapinski. Both girls have their own reasons for entering the competition: Louisiana needs the prize money, and Beverly wants to sabotage the event. While the students never actually learn to twirl, the classes are nevertheless invaluable because of the unlikely friendship the girls form. All three have lost people close to them, and each girl deals with her loss in different ways. With each small adventure, whether it’s finding a lost book or rescuing a beloved pet, their friendship grows into an undeniable bond. In short, precisely crafted chapters, DiCamillo once again demonstrates her ability to create unique characters that touch readers’ hearts. Raymie, in particular, is observant, thoughtful, and sensitive as she struggles to make sense of the world around her. Her story unfolds in uncomplicated prose, even as the themes explored are complex. Surrounded by the fully realized Louisiana and Beverly, not to mention the adults in her town, Raymie searches for meaning, a search that will resonate with readers. VERDICT Poignant, insightful, and ultimately uplifting.–Amanda Raklovits, Champaign Public Library, IL

JOHN LEWIS, ANDREW AYDIN & NATE POWELL (ARTIST),
MARCH: BOOK THREE (TOP SHELF)

redstarMarch- Book Three by John Lewis & Andrew AydinLEWIS, John & Andrew Aydin. March: Book Three. illus. by Nate Powell. 192p. Top Shelf. Aug. 2016. pap. $19.99. ISBN 9781603094023.

Gr 8 Up–In the final installment in the trilogy, Congressman Lewis concludes his firsthand account of the civil rights era. Simultaneously epic and intimate, this dynamic work spotlights pivotal moments (the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL; the Freedom Summer murders; the 1964 Democratic National Convention; and the Selma to Montgomery marches) through the lens of one who was there from the beginning. Lewis’s willingness to speak from the heart about moments of doubt and anguish imbues the book with emotional depth. Complex material is tackled but never oversimplified—many pages are positively crammed with text—and, as in previous volumes, discussion of tensions among the various factions of the movement adds nuance and should spark conversation among readers. Through images of steely-eyed police, motion lines, and the use of stark black backgrounds for particularly painful moments, Powell underscores Lewis’s statement that he and his cohorts “were in the middle of a war.” These vivid black-and-white visuals soar, conveying expressions of hope, scorn, and devastation and making storied figures such as Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and Fannie Lou Hamer feel three-dimensional and familiar. VERDICT This essential addition to graphic novel shelves, history curricula, and memoir collections will resonate with teens and adults alike.–Mahnaz Dar,School Library Journal

GRACE LIN, WHEN THE SEA TURNED TO SILVER (LITTLE, BROWN)

redstarWhen the Sea Turned to Silver by Grace LinLIN, Grace. When the Sea Turned to Silver. illus. by Grace Lin. 384p. Little, Brown. Oct. 2016. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780316125925; ebk. $9.99. ISBN 9780316317696. POP

Gr 3-6–The Tiger Emperor is conscripting all the men of the mountain villages to build the Vast Wall surrounding the kingdom. But when they reach Pinmei’s village, they also take her grandmother, the Storyteller. In order to save her, Pinmei and her friend Yishan embark on a voyage to find the Luminous Stone That Lights the Night—the only thing the Emperor will trade for a prisoner’s freedom. From the top of Never-Ending Mountain to the City of Bright Moonlight to the bottom of the sea and back, their journey brings readers to familiar characters and settings as well as new ones. Combining the epic quest of Where the Mountain Meets the Moon and the tight, cyclical plotting of Starry River of the Sky, this is the strongest addition yet, binding the previous volumes together even more closely. As in the earlier companion novels, stories inspired by Chinese folktales are frequently interspersed, giving astute readers critical background information and clues and letting them see the future of their favorite characters, as many stories gain additional chapters. The framing narrative is bleaker and darker, and greater emphasis is placed on the importance and role of stories and storytellers. Lin’s vibrant chapter decorations and full-color, full-page paintings add to the work’s beauty. VERDICT A stunning addition to a deservedly beloved set of novels; recommended for all middle grade collections.–Jennifer Rothschild, Arlington County Public Libraries, VA

JASON REYNOLDS, GHOST (S. & S./ATHENEUM)

ghostredstarREYNOLDS, Jason. Ghost. 192p. (Track: Bk. 1). S. & S./Atheneum. Aug. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781481450157.

Gr 5-9–Castle “Ghost” Crenshaw lives with his single mother; his father is serving time in prison after firing a gun at Ghost and his mom three years ago—and Ghost has been running ever since. While running one day, he stops to watch a track practice and decides to crash the race. Impressed, the coach offers him a position on the team. His mom reluctantly agrees to let him join as long as he can behave himself and stay out of trouble in school. This is a struggle for the impulsive Ghost, but with Coach’s help, he learns the advantages of diligent practice and teamwork. Reynolds paints a realistic picture of a boy who needs the support of his community to channel his talent and energy. Supporting adult characters, like shop owner Mr. Charles and Coach, are positive, nuanced, and well-developed. The diverse team members are dealing with their own struggles, which will be explored in three future installments. The consequences for Ghost’s misbehavior are somewhat inconsistent, but the detailed and informative descriptions of running and training with an elite track team more than make up for this. VERDICT The focus on track athletics—a subject sorely lacking in the middle grade space—combined with the quality of Reynolds’s characters and prose, makes this an essential purchase.–Karen Yingling, Blendon Middle School, Westerville, OH

NICOLA YOON, THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR (DELACORTE)

yoon-thesunisasloastar-cvYOON, Nicola. The Sun Is Also a Star. 384p. ebook available. Delacorte. Nov. 2016. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780553496680. POP

Gr 8 Up–It is Natasha’s last day in New York City, where she has lived for 10 years. Her family, living as undocumented immigrants in a small Brooklyn apartment, are being deported to Jamaica after her father’s arrest for drunk driving. Natasha is scouring the city for a chance to stay in the United States legally. She wants the normal teen existence of her peers. Meanwhile, poetic Daniel is on his way to an interview as part of his application process to Yale. He is under great pressure to get in because his parents (who emigrated from South Korea) are adamant that he become a doctor. Events slowly conspire to bring the two leads together. When Daniel and Natasha finally meet, he falls in love immediately and convinces her to join him for the day. They tell their stories in alternating chapters. Additional voices are integrated into the book as characters interact with them. Both relatable and profound, the bittersweet ending conveys a sense of hopefulness that will resonate with teens.VERDICT This wistful love story will be adored by fans of Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park and by those who enjoyed the unique narrative structure of A.S. King’s Please Ignore Vera Dietz.–Kristin Anderson, Columbus Metropolitan Library System, OH

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