The finalists for the 2018 National Book Award have been announced. The five finalists for the award for Young People’s Literature are below. Winners will be announced on November 14th.
The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge by M.T. Anderson, illustrated by Eugene Yelchin
Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
The Journey of Little Charlie by Christopher Paul Curtis
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle by Leslie Connor
Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini, illustrated by Dan Williams (9780525539094)
The author of The Kite Runner has created a poetic work of short fiction that speaks to the plight of refugees around the world. Written as a letter from father to son, the book reflects on the beauty of the land they are leaving. The loveliness of life in Homs, Syria shows the vibrant world that was destroyed by bombs and war. As their lives crumble along with the buildings, they are forced to flee. The letter is written just as father and son enter the boat that will hopefully carry them to a new life in a safe country.
Hosseini was inspired to write this heart-wrenching piece by the death of the three-year-old Syrian boy whose body was found on a Turkish beach. Throughout the short fiction, there is a sense of loss and grief, of a land lost and a future abandoned. Yet there is also a slim thread of hope, a hope that compels them aboard a small boat and out onto the sea.
The illustrations help make this a more approachable book for younger readers who will find themselves drawn to the emotions of the text and the desperation on its pages. Williams uses sweeping colors to convey both the beauty of Syria but also the dark haunting nature of war and being torn from your country.
A devastating piece of fiction appropriate for ages 8 and up.
Reviewed from library copy.