2012-2013 Nonfiction

Mom,

I’m definitely looking forward to some of the titles you mentioned–Etiquette and Espionage chief among them.  I assume eventually I’ll read the Yancey, since I love his books and it’s been getting great reviews, but I have to admit to being a bit annoyed that he took the time to write a new book instead of working on the final Monstrumologist book.  Oh well.

emancipationYou asked about nonfiction. I haven’t begun to get a great handle on what’s out there yet, but I have a few ideas. Obviously, we’ve already discussed Steve Sheinkin’s new book.  In addition to that, there are new books out by Tanya Lee Stone and Tonya Bolden.  I know Bolden from her excellent FDR’s Alphabet Soup (Knopf, 2010) but it looks like she’s written a ton of nonfiction for young people.  Her newest is called Emancipation Proclamation: Lincoln and the Dawn of Liberty (Abrams).  It got a starred review in this month’s Booklist, and sounds right up my alley, in that it is micro-history.  Let me explain: another book with a Booklist star this month was Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad by David Adler (Holiday House)–I just read this one and it is a perfectly serviceable biography of Tubman, but I really didn’t care much for it because Adler fills up lots of space with canned bits of history about the period: a short bit on the Fugitive Slave Act, a piece on John Brown’s raid, a couple chapters on the Civil War.  The bit on John Brown was actually excellent, but it really had little to do with Tubman, and all of it together didn’t add up to much that a textbook couldn’t do.  I haven’t read the Bolden book yet, but what I’m hoping from the title is that it is much more in depth, analytic look at a smaller piece of history, instead of an attempt to fit 80 years of history into a 140 page book, as Adler does.

harrietFinally (for now), a third starred review in Booklist (it was their feature on Black History month) was for Tanya Lee Stone’s Courage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickles : America’s First Black Paratroopers (Candlewick).  Once again, I’m excited about the relative smallness of the story to tell here, and hoping that means Stone has plenty of room to get into some good creative history.

While I’m on the subject of nonfiction (again), I wanted to briefly mention the YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award’s vetted nomination list.  They ended up listing only 9 titles on the official nominations (plus the 5 finalists), as opposed to (for example) last year’s 23.  This is sure to lead to some griping, and I am usually one to say more is better, but I have to say that I’m pretty impressed with the committee.  They did leave off Ann Bausum’s Marching to the Mountaintop and Jim Murphy’s The Giant, but the 14 titles the committee came up with are pretty unassailable.  I was especially happy to see Sally M. Walker’s last two couragebooks, Blizzard of Glass and Their Skeletons Speak, on the vetted list.  I felt like both of these titles got a bit ignored, possibly because Blizzard came out too late in 2011 and Skeletons too early in 2012, and I’m very happy to see them get some attention, especially on such a short list of greats.  The only surprise on the list for me was Andrea Warren’s Charles Dickens and the Street Children of London, which I had never heard of, but am now greatly looking forward to reading.  So, congratulations to the 2013 ENYA committee, and I’ll try to keep up with what might be on the radar for this year’s committee.

– Mark

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2 Comments

Filed under Books, Children, Teens

2 responses to “2012-2013 Nonfiction

  1. Mark: As chair of 2013 ENYA committee, I’m thrilled at your last paragraph! 🙂 (And your mom was a great help to us as board liaison!)

  2. Jonathan Hunt

    There was a recent change to the vetted nominations list. Previously, any title nominated by any committee member could have made the vetted list (think of it as a BFYA nomination). Now, 6 of the 9 committee members must vote to move a nomination onto the vetted list. To me, this change makes sense because it represents the will of the committee much more than a rogue member. Neither MARCHING TO THE MOUNTAINTOP nor THE GIANT are not the most egregious omission for me. That would be MASTER OF DECEIT. Otherwise, I’m quite pleased with the winner, the finalists, and the vetted nominations list (especially because I think BLIZZARD OF GLASS was a better book than most people know).

    I liked both EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION and COURAGE HAS NO COLOR, but I’m not sure yet *how* much. I have HARRIET TUBMAN AND THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD, but haven’t read it yet. I thought his previous biography of Frederick Douglass was very good, so I look forward to reading this new one.

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