There is something sublime and surreal in being told that the book you imagined, researched, wrote, revised (and revised and revised), nurtured, and sweated is not only going to be published and read by an actual audience but it is, in fact, going to be honored by an award committee. And not just any award committee, oh no. By a committee and organization so dedicated to supporting nonfiction literature for teens they created a new award to shout about it!
These were some of the many thoughts that went through my head when I was told that Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream was a YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction finalist in 2010 — the inaugural year for this award. My next thought, when I found out this translated into traveling to ALA Midwinter to attend the ceremony for all the finalists, as well as whichever title would win, was: I had better get some new shoes!
There was a flurry of excitement surrounding all of Midwinter. There always is. But this year it was especially exciting for me. I drove to Boston and met up with my best friend Sarah Aronson. We went shopping. We were celebrating. She had been rooting for Almost Astronauts since before it was a final manuscript, and we were going to enjoy every second of this experience. The old adage rang true: it was an honor just to be nominated! I was enamored with all of the books on the list.
I am so proud to be part of a group of colleagues who treasure learning and devote their time to creating books that are driven by a thirst for discovery. I hope and believe our passion for learning comes through in our books for teens. It is a privilege to work in a field where shining a light on the people who have made our world a fascinating and ever-changing place is embraced and celebrated.
Like Almost Astronauts, my 2013 book, Courage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickles, will introduce readers to another group of people they may have never heard of but need to know. These brave men became the first black paratroopers in World War II at a time when racism and discrimination kept our military segregated. Still, they were ready to fight for our nation even though our nation wasn’t yet ready to fight for them. Telling their story is a small tribute to their tenacity and strength of spirit.
Thank you to YALSA for all that you do to encourage readers to find fascinating nonfiction, including highlighting the 2013 finalists and winner of the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction Award — congratulations, all!
— Tanya Lee Stone, currently reading Love in the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block
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