The voting has opened for the opening round of the 10th Annual GoodReads Choice Awards. There are two categories that are specifically for young adult books. I must admit that I’m baffled by some of the book included since I think there are other amazing books not on the lists. Here are the nominees in those categories:
BEST YOUNG ADULT FICTION
All the Little Lights by Jamie McGuire
The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan
The Case for Jamie by Brittany Cavallaro
The Cheerleaders by Kara Thomas
Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi
Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli
Let’s Talk about Love by Claire Kann
Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed
Love, Life, and the List by Kasie West
Puddin’ by Julie Murphy
Sadie by Courtney Summers
Save the Date by Morgan Matson
Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett
Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson
Tyler Johnson Was Here by Jay Coles
YOUNG ADULT FANTASY
The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas
The Cruel Prince by Holly Black
Dread Nation by Justina Ireland
The Fates Divide by Veronica Roth
Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J. Maas
Lifel1k3 by Jay Kristoff
Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
A Reaper at the Gates by Sabaa Tahir
Restore Me by Tahereh Mafi
Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young
Thunderhead by Neal Shusterman
War Storm by Victoria Aveyard
Wildcard by Marie Lu
Sir Simon: Super Scarer by Cale Atkinson (9781101919095)
Simon is a ghost who has haunted a bunch of different places like a forest and a boat. Now he has his first assignment to haunt a house. As a ghost, he has chores that he has to take care of, including moving things around, creaking the stairs and flushing the toilets. After he does that, he has time for his own hobbies. Everything was going well until a child moved in, a child who could immediately see Simon and wanted to talk. Simon decides to have the boy do his ghost chores for him, but things don’t work out quite as planned.
Atkinson tells this story in Simon the ghost’s voice which creates a great tone throughout. The book is filled with humor, from Simon’s previous jobs in haunting to his list of the easiest people to scare to the boy learning to haunt a house. The art adds to that appeal with funny touches like using a flowered sheet to be a ghost. It is done in a style that has a vintage feel and a modern edge.
A great ghost story when you are looking for giggles rather than gasps. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from library copy.
Town Is by the Sea won the top TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award that comes with a $50,000 prize. The prize is given to the best book for children under the age of 12. Here are the other winners:
Picture the Sky by Barbara Reid
AMY MATHERS TEEN BOOK AWARD
The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline
GEOFFREY BILSON AWARD FOR HISTORICAL FICTION FOR YOUNG PEOPLE
The Assassin’s Curse by Kevins Sands
JOHN SPRAY MYSTERY AWARD
The Hanging Girl by Eileen Cook
MARILYN BAILLIE PICTURE BOOK AWARD
When the Moon Comes by Paul Harbridge, illustrated by Matt James
NORMA FLECK AWARD FOR CANADIAN CHILDREN’S NONFICTION
#NotYourPrincess: Voices of Native American Women edited by Lisa Charleyboy and Mary Beth Leatherdale
The Truly Brave Princesses by Dolores Brown, illustrated by Sonja Wimmer (9788417123383)
This lush picture book explores the ways in which all women are princesses and all women are brave. Each woman’s details are shared, including their name, age, profession and what they love most. Then a brief explanation of their bravery is shared with the reader. Each woman is wonderfully different from the others in terms of race, culture, sexuality, being differently abled, and much more.
The entire picture book has a celebratory feeling. Each woman is given a crown in her portrait, one that matches her personality perfectly. Most charming are the small details that are shared, like the physician’s love of hot chocolate and architect’s connection to the sea. The artwork in the picture book is detailed and filled with color. Each woman gets a close-up portrait and then an image showing her with her family and loved ones actively enjoying life.
A diverse and inclusive look at the strength of all women. Appropriate for ages 3-6.
Reviewed from library copy.
The shortlist for the An Post Irish Book Awards has been announced. Here are the nominees in the youth categories:
NATIONAL BOOK TOKENS CHILDREN’S BOOK OF THE YEAR (JUNIOR)
The First Christmas Jumper (And the Sheep Who Changed Everything) by Ryan Tubridy, illustrated by Chris Judge
Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth by Oliver Jeffers
I Say Ooh, You Say Aah by John Kane
The Magic Moment by Niall Breslin, illustrated by Sheena Dempsey
The Pooka Party by Shona Shirley Macdonald
The President’s Cat by Peter Donnelly
NATIONAL BOOK TOKENS CHILDREN’S BOOK OF THE YEAR (SENIOR)
Blazing a Trail: Irish Women Who Changed the World by Sarah Webb, illustrated by Lauren O’Neill
The Dog Who Lost His Bark by Eoin Colfer, illustrated by P. J. Lynch
Secret Science: The Amazing World Beyond Your Eyes by Dara Ó Briain, illustrated by Dan Brammall
The Storm Keeper’s Island by Catherine Doyle
Tin by Pádraig Kenny
The Trouble with Perfect by Helena Duggan
DEPT51@EASON TEEN / YOUNG ADULT BOOK OF THE YEAR
Dark Wood Dark Water by Tina Callaghan
Doctor Who: Twelve Angels Weeping by Dave Rudden
Spare and Found Parts by Sarah Maria Griffin
The Surface Breaks by Louise O’Neill
The Weight of a Thousand Feathers by Brian Conaghan
The Wren Hunt by Mary Watson
The Season of Styx Malone by Kekla Magoon (9781524715953)
After brothers Caleb and Bobby Gene get into trouble for trading their baby sister for a bag of fireworks, they are sentenced to a summer of labor alongside the boy who traded with them. Caleb is determined not to be an ordinary person in life, something his father seems obsessed with him staying at all times, even calling him extra-ordinary! So when Styx Malone enters their lives and offers them a way to trade the ill-gotten fireworks for something even better, the two brothers eagerly join him. But Styx is not telling them the whole truth about his life or even about the trades they are making. As the boys are pulled farther into Styx’s world, Caleb worries that it will all fall apart and that he will be left being just ordinary again.
Magoon has created a story that reads smooth and sweet, a tale filled with adventures and riotous action. At the same time though, she has also created a book that asks deeper questions about family, the foster care system, children in need, and what makes a good friend. Readers may not trust Styx as quickly as Caleb does, so the book also has a compelling narrative voice that is naive and untrustworthy. Even as Caleb, in particular, is drawn firmly into Styx’s plans, readers will be questioning what they are doing. It’s a great book to show young readers an unreliable narrator who is also charming.
The book has complex characters who all rise beyond being stereotypical. Even the adults in the book show glimpses of other sides that create a sense of deep reality on the page. Styx himself is an amazing character. He is clearly doing things on the edge of the law, hustling for deals and acting far tougher than he actually is. The moments where Styx shows his softer side are particularly compelling, like the hotdog cookout and seeing him interact with a father figure. Beautifully nuanced, these moments take this book from a madcap summer to a book that speaks deeply about being a child.
A top read of the year, expect to find incredible depth in this novel about friendship and family. Appropriate for ages 9-12.
Reviewed from ARC provided by Wendy Lamb Books.
We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell, illustrated by Frane Lessac (9781632896339)
This picture book looks at modern life in the Cherokee Nation. Looking at being grateful, the book explores the year and its seasons. Along the way, various Cherokee words are shared with the reader both in English lettering and also in Cherokee syllabary. Throughout the book, a strong connection with nature is shared with buckbrush, cane flutes, wild onions, and large gardens. There is also a clear connection with Cherokee history from the Trail of Tears to family members who have passed on to festivals and memorials. This is a book about community that celebrates the earth, survival, and family.
This is Sorell’s debut picture book. A member of the Cherokee Nation, her prose here reflects her skill as a poet, bringing a soaring feel to the moments she shares. The book ends with a glossary of terms that will inform readers about the connection to things like stickball and gigging. Sorell uses the title phrase of “We are grateful” again and again in the book, creating a rhythmic feel of a traditional tale.
Lessac’s illustrations are done in gouache, creating bright and rich colors that show entire scenes on the page. The greens of nature, the blues of the water and sky, the bursts of color in homes and gardens, all have a great depth of color.
A wonderful modern look at Cherokee traditions and our universal gratitude for community and family. Appropriate for ages 5-9.
Reviewed from library copy.
Here are some of my top news stories for the week:
Can picture books meet the crisis in children’s mental health?
Classic, Award-Winning, Popular Books with Racist, Biased Depictions of Indigenous People
Judy Blume Has Finally Sold the Movie Rights to Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret
Mama Bear knows best: The enduring problem with children’s picture books
Advocacy and the Power of Narrative | American Libraries Magazine
Anti-Tax Fervor Closed Their Libraries. Now Residents Are Trying to Go It Alone.
Why can’t NC kids read? Another study shows Read To Achieve produced no gains.
Angie Thomas, The Author Of “The Hate U Give,” Has A Message For Young People
What’s the one book all young Canadians should read? 12 teens share their picks | CBC Books
Africville by Shauntay Grant, illustrated by Eva Campbell (9781773060439)
A girl visits the historical site of Africville, in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She imagines what the community was once like, how the children would play together. She imagines lunch on the tables, picking blueberries over the hill. She imagines playing games, going rafting, and bonfires by the water. Her great-grandmother had lived in Africville before it was destroyed in the 1960s after surviving for over 150 years. But the black community of Africville never received the same services as the rest of Halifax despite paying taxes. The community was eventually relocated from the site and moved to public housing. Africville is now a park where former residents and their descendants return to remember the community that had once stood there.
Grant gives us a glimpse of what Africville once was. The picture book keeps descriptions short and the focus on children and their lives in the community. There is an author’s note at the end of the book that offers more context for what Africville was and what happened to its residents. The use of a modern child to dream about what might have been in Africville is a great lens through which to look at life there. The peacefulness and sense of community pervade the entire read.
Campbell’s illustrations are filled with deep colors. The bonfire pages glow with reds of fire and sunset. There is lush green everywhere and the houses pop with bright paint colors. She creates the warmth of a real community on the pages, illustrations that seem to have sunlight shining from them.
A gorgeous tribute to a piece of Canadian history. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from library copy.