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.