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The 2020 Oregon Book Award Finalists

29 Jan

The Oregon Book Award finalists have been announced.  Winners will be announced live at the 33rd annual Oregon Book Awards Ceremony on Monday, April 27 at Portland Center Stage at The Armory. I am listing the children’s, YA, and Graphic finalists below. You can see the entire slate here.

Judges: Pablo Cartaya, Amy Pattee, Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich
  • Cathy Camper of Portland, Lowriders: Blast from the Past (Chronicle Books)
  • Deborah Hopkinson of West Linn, Carter Reads the Newspaper (Peachtree Publishing Company)
  • Jody J. Little of Portland, Mostly the Honest Truth (HarperCollins)
  • Rosanne Parry of Portland, A Wolf Called Wander (Greenwillow Books)
  • Rebecca Stefoff of Portland, Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species (Atheneum Books for Young Readers)
Judges: Susan Campbell Bartoletti, David Macinnis Gill, Traci L. Jones
  • Deborah Hopkinson of West Linn, How I Became a Spy: A Mystery of WWII London (Knopf Books for Young Readers)
  • April Henry of Portland, The Lonely Dead(Henry Holt & Company)
  • Connie King Leonard of Milwaukie, Sleeping in My Jeans (Ooligan Press)
  • Rosanne Parry of Portland, Last of the Name(Carolrhoda Books)
  • Nancy Richardson Fischer of Hood River, When Elephants Fly (HarperCollins/ Inkyard Press)
Judges: Adrienne Celt, Jason Lutes, MariNaomi
  • Cat Farris of Portland, My Boyfriend is a Bear (Oni Press)
  • Maria Capelle Frantz of Portland, The Chancellor and the Citadel (Iron Circus Comics)
  • Greg Means and MK Reed of PortlandPenny Nichols (Top Shelf Productions)
  • Dylan Meconis of Portland, Queen of the Sea (Walker Books)
  • Aron Nels Steinke of Portland, Mystery Club (Mr. Wolf’s Class #2) (Graphix)

How I did – My YMA Recap

27 Jan

Awards committees read far more widely than most of us. Watching the YMAs this morning, I was reminded of some great books I’d forgotten about when I made my list yesterday. I was also made aware of a number of books I had not read. Fortunately, my book club always discusses the books we haven’t discussed at, our first meeting after the YMAs.

Here are my predictions again. If a book won anything, I starred it and turned it red.

Young Adult Books

Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson
Fountains of Silence  by Ruta Sepetys
Lovely War by Julie Berry
*Dig  by A. S. King- Printz Award
The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee
Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay
Voices: The Final Hours of Joan of Arc by David Elliot
With the Fire on High  by Elizabeth Acevedo
*Infinite Hope by Ashley Bryant – Coretta Scott King Honor Award for Illustration

Middle Grade Books

*Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks by Jason Reynolds – Coretta Scott King Honor
Pay Attention, Carter Jones  by Gary D. Schmidt
The Bridge Home  by Padma Venkatraman
The Line Tender by Kate Allen
Queen of the Sea by Dylan Meconis
*Stargazing by Jen Wang – APALA Award for Children’s Literature
For Black Girls Like Me by Mariama J. Lockington
*New Kid by Jerry Craft – Coretta Scott King Author Award AND Newbery

Picture Books

*Hey Water! by Antoinette Portis – Sibert Honor
Saturday by Oge Mora
*Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard, ill. by
          Juana Martinez-Neal AILA Picture Book Award Honor AND Sibert Award
*My Papi Has a Motorcycle  by Isabel Quintero, ill. by Zeke Peña – Belpre Honor 
Nine Months: Before A Baby is Born by Miranda Paul, ill. by Jason Chin
The Shortest Day by Susan Cooper., ill. by Carson Ellis
A Stone Sat Still by Brendan Wenzel
Wait, Rest, Pause: Dormancy in Nature by Marcie Flinchum Atkins
Sea Bear: A Journey for
 Survival by Lindsay Moore
*Bear Came Along  by Richard T. Morris, ill. by LeUyen Pham – Caldecott Honor

YMA Predictions

26 Jan

I have only predicted the Newbery once – the year The One and Only Ivan won.  I cried because I loved that book so much.

I now know that it is foolish to make predictions. A different group of people in each of the room where decisions were made yesterday might select different books. That is the reality of awards. So, rather than predicting a winner, here are some books I hope receive some love tomorrow.

Young Adult Books

Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson
Fountains of Silence  by Ruta Sepetys
Lovely War by Julie Berry
Dig  by A. S. King
The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee
Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay
Voices: The Final Hours of Joan of Arc by David Elliot
With the Fire on High  by Elizabeth Acevedo
Infinite Hope by Ashley Bryant

Middle Grade Books

Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks by Jason Reynolds
Pay Attention, Carter Jones  by Gary D. Schmidt
The Bridge Home  by Padma Venkatraman
The Line Tender by Kate Allen
Queen of the Sea by Dylan Meconis
Stargazing by Jen Wang
For Black Girls Like Me by Mariama J. Lockington
New Kid by Jerry Craft

Picture Books

Hey Water! by Antoinette Portis
Saturday by Oge Mora
Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard, ill. by
Juana Martinez-Neal
My Papi Has a Motorcycle  by Isabel Quintero, ill. by Zeke Peña
Nine Months: Before A Baby is Born by Miranda Paul, ill. by Jason Chin
The Shortest Day by Susan Cooper., ill. by Carson Ellis
A Stone Sat Still by Brendan Wenzel
Wait, Rest, Pause: Dormancy in Nature by Marcie Flinchum Atkins
Sea Bear: A Journey for
 Survival by Lindsay Moore
Bear Came Along  by Richard T. Morris

You can watch the Youth Media Awards live tomorrow, starting at 8 a.m Eastern. I am getting up at 4:30 so I will be ready, coffee in hand to watch it all unfold. You can watch by clicking on this link.Slide1


2020 YA Nonfiction Award Finalists

5 Dec

Next December, it will be my responsibility to get this list out, as I am chairing the 2021 YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults. For now, here is this year’s list of five finalists.


  • Free Lunch,written by Rex Ogle and published by Norton Young Readers, an imprint of W.W. Norton & Company
  • The Great Nijinsky: God of Dance, written and illustrated by Lynn Curlee and published by Charlesbridge Teen
  • A Light in the DarknessJanusz Korczak, His Orphans, and the Holocaust, written by Albert Marrin and published by Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Random House
  • A Thousand Sisters: The Heroic Airwomen of the Soviet Union in World War II, written by Elizabeth Wein and published by Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
  • Torpedoed: The True Story of the World War II Sinking of “The Children’s Ship, written by Deborah Heiligman and published by Henry Holt, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group

I’ve read three of these five and have put the other two on hold.

And the winner is…

21 Nov


Yes, a nonfiction book, Martin W. Sandler’s book 1919: The Year That Changed America, won the 2019 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature!


Here’s what the National Book Award judges had to say:

Martin W. Sandler’s riveting work of nonfiction, 1919 The Year That Changed America, focuses on one year of turbulence and its far-reaching aftermath. Sandler’s evocative language brings 1919 to life for young readers, showing us the impact of that crucial year on major issues like race relations, women’s rights, and climate change. This carefully researched and curated work strikingly demonstrates the interconnected nature of history–as it happens and its rippling consequences for years to come.

I couldn’t agree more. The book opens with the Great Molasses Flood, which might seem a strange place to begin. However, Sandler recreates that event and connects it to the events he discusses in the subsequent chapters. It really is a brilliant piece of nonfiction writing for young people.

Although written for young people, I think  a lot of adults would find this book fascinating as well.


25 Feb

A lot of reading of “books I missed” happens in the wake of the Youth Media Awards. This weekend I read two lovely picture books I missed earlier in the year. Each deal with sad topics in a beautiful way.



The Rough Patch by Brian Lies, was a Caldecott Honor book. It is about love, loss, and grief.

Goodreads Summary:Evan and his dog do everything together, from eating ice cream to caring for their prize-winning garden, which grows big and beautiful. One day the unthinkable happens: Evan’s dog dies.

Heartbroken, Evan destroys the garden and everything in it. download-1

The ground becomes overgrown with prickly weeds and thorns, and Evan embraces the chaos.

But beauty grows in the darkest of places, and when a twisting vine turns into an immense pumpkin, Evan is drawn out of his isolation and back to the county fair, where friendships—old and new—await.


Let me just say that the two page spread that shows the day his dog passes might be one of the most poignant scenes in a picture book, ever.

The other picture book I read, The Remember Balloons, written by Jessie Oliveros and illustrated by Dana Wulfekotte, was a 2019 Schneider Family Award Honor Book.


Publisher’s Summary: James’s Grandpa has the best balloons because he has the best memories. He has balloons showing Dad when he was young and Grandma when they were married. Grandpa has balloons about camping and Aunt Nelle’s poor cow. Grandpa also has a silver balloon filled with the memory of a fishing trip he and James took together.

But when Grandpa’s balloons begin to float away, James is heartbroken. No matter how hard he runs, James can’t catch them. One day, Grandpa lets go of the silver balloon—and he doesn’t even notice!

Grandpa no longer has balloons of his own. But James has many more than before. It’s up to him to share those balloons, one by one.

It’s the quiet voice and  little details that make this book so powerful. Depending upon how old people are, they have more or fewer balloons than others. But the dog always only has one red balloon. That touched my heart because that’s how dogs are.

Both of these books are great for young readers. They can also help parents talk to their children about these tough topics.

#alamw19 – Day 4 – AWARDS!

29 Jan

I got up early, packed, and checked out of the hotel. I swung by  Starbucks   – where I might have seen David Levithan – then went to sand in line for the Youth Media Awards (YMA).

I don’t know that I can adequately describe the energy in the air. People were buzzing about what they hoped would win, of course. Strangers in line next to you were now your new friend. We all agreed this was better than all the movie and TV awards combined.

As a short person. I really like to sit in a row where no one sits in front of me and I got one dead center.


It also let me run into a few people I know. I was standing and chatting with an former library colleague when the ALA media approached us.

“We are doing a documentary and wondered if you two would be will to answer a few questions?”

Of course we said yes. We were asked about favorites. She said Dreamers and I said Drawn Together. They asked a few more questions and afterwards we each thought we were hopelessly inarticulate, but we didn’t care because the YMA were about to begin.

For the first time, my twin sister was watching from her home in Canada and we were able to watch together.

screen shot 2019-01-29 at 7.03.03 am

Yeah, we cry over books.

Some favorites won awards. My TBR list just got longer. Waiting in line, my new friends and I had all agreed that even if our favorites didn’t win, we knew this was an opportunity to meet new books.

But before I could meet those new book, I attended YALSA’s Morris/Nonfiction Awards reception. This is my other favorite Midwinter event. Each of the awards announces five finalists in December. The winner is announced at the YMA. All ten finalists get a few minutes to speak and their speeches always touch my heart.
Afterwards, there is a book signing. This year we all got five books. I made a beeline for John Hendrix and got him to sign my copy of The Faithful Spy.



After the reception, my five signed books in tow, I collected my luggage and headed to the train station. I thought my train was at 5, but it was at 6. I sat, knitting, watching the people around me. I finished the first sock in the pair.


Boarding time finally rolled around. I boarded the train and was glad to be on my way home.

2019 YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award Finalists

13 Dec

As promised, here are the finalists for the 2019 YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award. As with the Morris Award nominees, I’ve read all the titles. They, too, will be announced at the Youth Media Awards in Seattle. These authors will also present at the same ceremony as the Morris finalists.


  • The Beloved World of Sonia Sotomayor written by Sonia Sotomayor
  • Boots on the Ground: America’s War in Vietnam written by Elizabeth Partridge
  • The Faithful Spy: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler written and illustrated by John Hendrix
  • Hey, Kiddo:  How I Lost My Mother, Found My Father, and Dealt with Family Addictionwritten and illustrated by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
  • The Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian Refugees written and illustrated by Don Brown

My heart is with Hey Kiddo,  which I wrote about here. I am also excited to see Faithful Spy on the list.

You can read more about all five finalists on the 2019 YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award page.


2019 Morris Award Finalists Announced!

12 Dec

The William C. Morris YA Debut Award, first given in 2009, honors a book published by a first-time author writing for teens and celebrating impressive new voices in young adult literature.  The winner is announced annually at the ALA Youth Media Awards with a shortlist of up to five titles named in early December.

For the first time ever, I have already read all of the Morris Award finalists before they were announced. Here they are:


  • Blood Water Paint written by Joy McCullough
  • Check, Please! written and illustrated by Ngozi Ukazu
  • Children of Blood and Bone written by Tomi Adeyemi
  • Darius the Great Is Not Okay written by Adib Khorram
  • What the Night Sings written and illustrated by Vesper Stamper

They are all fantastic books, but my heart is leaning towards Darius the Great Is Not Okay. But I’d also love to see Blood, Water, Paint,  a novel in verse, win. It is hard to know what the discussion about these five, very different books will be like, or say who will win. I will be at the Youth Media Awards in Seattle when the winner is announced on Monday, January 28th. I will also attend the awards presentation afterwards to celebrate  all five finalists and whichever book wins. You can read more about each book on YALSA”S Morris Award page.

Stay tuned the Nonfiction finalists should be announced soon.



Longlist for the 2018 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature

13 Sep


  • Elizabeth AcevedoThe Poet X
    (HarperTeen / HarperCollins Publishers)
  • M. T. Anderson and Eugene YelchinThe Assassination of Brangwain Spurge
    (Candlewick Press)
  • Bryan BlissWe’ll Fly Away
    (Greenwillow Books / HarperCollins Publishers)
  • Leslie ConnorThe Truth as Told by Mason Buttle
    (Katherine Tegen Books / HarperCollins Publishers)
  • Christopher Paul CurtisThe Journey of Little Charlie
    (Scholastic Press / Scholastic, Inc.)
  • Jarrett J. KrosoczkaHey, Kiddo
    (Graphix / Scholastic, Inc.)
  • Tahereh MafiA Very Large Expanse of Sea
    (HarperTeen / HarperCollins Publishers)
  • Joy McCullough, Blood Water Paint
    (Dutton Children’s Books / Penguin Random House)
  • Elizabeth PartridgeBoots on the Ground: America’s War in Vietnam
    (Viking Children’s Books / Penguin Random House)
  • Vesper Stamper, What the Night Sings
    (Knopf Books for Young Readers / Penguin Random House)
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