The National Book Award and Politics

Mom,

While I pause to think about your last post on accuracy and Beth’s insightful comment, I want to point out how shocked–shocked–I am by the group of books selected as finalists for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature.

I mean, who would have guessed that the same organization that has honored such titles as Inside Out and Back Again (Vietnamese immigration in America), Mockingbird (Asperger’s Syndrome), Claudette Colvin (Civil Rights), The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (American Indian relations), Octavian Nothing (slavery), Godless (atheism), and House of the Scorpions (human cloning) could have come up with these four titles (out of five total):

  • Out of Reach by Carrie Arcos– a character deals with a brother with drug addiction
  • Never Fall Down by Patricia McCormick– the real life story of a child soldier in the Khmer Rouge
  • Bomb by Steve Sheinkin– the creation of the Atomic Bomb
  • Endangered by Eliot Schrefer– “The compelling tale of a girl who must save a group of bonobos–and herself–from a violent coup” according to the publisher.

But hey, you know, The Penderwicks won in 2005 so maybe William Alexander’s Goblin Secrets has a chance!

I kid, of course.  Some of the titles I mentioned are among my favorites of the last decade, and the two that I’ve read from this years finalists are really tremendous books–we’ve already talked at length about Bomb, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on Never Fall Down.  Nevertheless, it does seem pretty obvious when you compare the NBAs to (say) the Printz Award, that the NBAs are kind of addicted to “serious, political” topics.  But I guess that’s why it’s nice to have so many different organizations recognizing YA and Children’s Literature.  It’s not like there’s only 5 or 10 “best” YA books of the year, and if the National Book Foundation wants to focus on the more political minded ones, that’s great.  Still – it’d be pretty funny if Goblin Secrets beat out those other four.

– Mark

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One response to “The National Book Award and Politics

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