The shortlist for the 2014 Hans Christian Andersen Award has been announced. From 58 candidates from 33 countries, the shortlist has been narrowed to six illustrators and six authors. The award is given biennially by the International Board on Books for Young People “to an author and illustrator whose complete works have made lasting contributions to children’s literature.”
Ted van Lieshout (The Netherlands)
Houshang Moradi Kermani (Iran)
Mirjam Pressler (Germany)
Nahoko Uehashi (Japan)
Renate Welsh (Austria)
Jacqueline Woodson (USA)
Rotraut Susanne Berner (Germany)
John Burningham (UK)
Eva Lindstrom (Sweden)
Roger Mello (Brazil)
Francois Place (France)
Oyvind Torseter (Norway)
She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick
Released April 22, 2014.
Laureth keeps tabs on her famous father’s emails, making sure that his fans are responded to in a kind and timely way. But one day, she gets an email from someone claiming to have her father’s writing journal. The problem is, her father is supposed to be in Europe, but this person is in New York City. Laureth’s mother doesn’t seem to care about her father being missing, so it is up to Laureth to figure out how to reach him and find out what happened. But Laureth has an additional obstacle to her rescue mission: she is blind. So she must fool her 7-year-old brother into joining her on a flight across the Atlantic Ocean to a huge city to find her father. This is a quest unlike any other, written by a master.
Sedgwick’s writing is beautiful and effortless. He has created a truly incredible character in Laureth, a girl who doesn’t even realize how brave she is. Her blindness is both a huge factor in the novel but also never a factor in Laureth’s self perception. She tries to pass as sighted throughout the novel, managing it at times and failing at others. There are frightening encounters, moments of disorientation, and other times where blindness is the reason she survives.
Sedgwick’s book is about far more than a girl who is blind making a quest. It is about moments of coincidence too. Sedgwick works this theme in by pulling quotes from Laureth’s father and his research into coincidence. But it is also a large theme of the book itself, those breathtaking moments where the universe seems to be speaking just to you. And it is those moments that make the connections we have with others stand out clearly.
A remarkable protagonist in a magical book, this is another winner for Sedgwick. Appropriate for ages 13-15.
Reviewed from digital copy received from NetGalley and Roaring Brook Press.