This month the William C. Morris YA Debut Award committee chose its top five books for the award short list. I don’t think any of us anticipated how difficult it would be to select just five. We were all a bit overwhelmed by the high caliber of new authors this year and there were some fierce discussions as we whittled down our list in those last few weeks.
What makes a Morris Award winner? Simply put, the committee’s charge is to select books by debut authors with overall integrity that have compelling, high quality writing and will appeal to a wide range of teens. While those may be clear guidelines, they don’t quite capture the spirit of the award. Many of the books we read this year certainly met our charge, but in each of the finalists the committee found a little something extra. These books have fresh voices and lyrical prose. They challenged and surprised us as readers. These five authors pulled us into their stories and didn’t let us go until the very end. We can’t wait to see what they do next.
Chair, 2011 William C. Morris YA Debut Award