2021 YALSA Book Award Winners & Honors

Alex Award

  • Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse, published by Saga Press, an imprint of Simon & Schuster (ISBN 9781534437678).
  • The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune, published by Tom Doherty Associates/Tor Books (ISBN 9781250217288).
  • The Impossible First: From Fire to Ice – Crossing Antarctica Alone by Colin O’Brady, published by Scribner, an imprint of Simon & Schuster (ISBN 9781982133115).
  • Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio by Derf Backderf, published by Abrams Comicarts (ISBN 9781419734847).
  • The Kids Are Gonna Ask by Gretchen Anthony, published by Park Row Books (ISBN 9780778308744).
  • The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones published by Saga Press, an imprint of Simon & Schuster (ISBN 9781982136451).
  • Plain Bad Heroines by emily m. danforth, published by William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins (ISBN 9780062942852) .
  • Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi, published by Tom Doherty Associates/Tor Books (ISBN 9781250214751).  
  • Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh, published by Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster (ISBN 9781982156947).  
  • We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry, published by Pantheon Books, a division of Penguin Random House (ISBN 9781524748098).

    In addition to the winning titles, the committee has also released the full vetted list of titles that were nominated for the Alex Award. View the list.

Edwards Award

Kekla Magoon
  • X: A Novel, co-written by Ilyasah Shabazz and published by Candlewick Press
  • How it Went Down, published by Henry Holt and Co. Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group;
  • The Rock and the River, published by Aladdin, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing
  • Fire in the Streets, published by Aladdin, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing

Morris Award

If These Wings Could Fly by Kyrie McCauley, published by Katherine Tegen Books, an imprint of HarperCollins. 9780062885029.

Nonfiction Award

The Rise & Fall of Charles Lindbergh by Candace Fleming and published by Schwartz and Wade, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Random House. 9780525646549.

In addition to the finalists and award winner, YALSA also publishes a list of vetted nominations for the Nonfiction Award. View the list. If you’d like to learn more about the list of nominations, join us for a special booktalk with the Nonfiction Committee on February 24, 7pm EST. Register for the event for free.

Odyssey Award

Winner

Kent State written in verse by Deborah Wiles, powerfully narrated by Christopher Gebauer, Lauren Ezzo, Christina Delaine, Johnny Heller, Roger Wayne, Korey Jackson, and David de Vries and produced by Paul R. Gange for Scholastic Audio.

Honor Audiobooks

  • Clap When You Land written by Elizabeth Acevedo, narrated by Elizabeth Acevedo and Melania-Luisa Marte, and produced by Caitlin Garing for HarperAudio, a division of HarperCollins Publishers.
  • Fighting Words is written by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, narrated by Bahni Turpin and produced by Karen Dziekonski for Listening Library, an imprint of Penguin Random House Audio.
  • Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You is written by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi, narrated by Jason Reynolds with an introduction by Ibram X. Kendi, and produced by Robert Van Kolken for Hachette Audio.
  • When Stars Are Scattered written by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed and narrated by Faysal Ahmed, Barkhad Abdi and a full cast, is produced by Kelly Gildea and Julie Wilson for Listening Library, an imprint of Penguin Random House Audio.

Printz Award

Winner

Everything Sad Is Untrue (a true story) by Daniel Nayeri and published by Arthur A. Levine, an imprint of Levine Querido.

Honor Books

  • Apple (Skin to the Core) by Eric Gansworth and published by Arthur A. Levine, an imprint of Levine Querido.
  • Dragon Hoops Gene Luen Yang, color by Lark Pien and published by First Second Books, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group.
  • Every Body Looking by Candice Iloh and published by Dutton Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers, a division of Penguin Random House.
  • We Are Not Free by Traci Chee and published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Pura Belpré Award: Young Adult Author Award

Winner

Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez and published by Algonquin Young Readers, an imprint of Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill.

Honor Books

  • Never Look Back by Lilliam Rivera and published by Bloomsbury YA.
  • We Are Not from Here by Jenny Torres Sanchez and published by Philomel Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

Congrats again to all the winners and honors and thank you to all the book award committees for all the hard work, time, and effort they put into reading all the nominees and selecting the winners! View current and past list of winners of all of YALSA’s book awards (with annotations) on YALSA’s Book and Media Awards web page. View the full list of all the winners of the Youth Media Awards here.

2020 Alex Awards Virtual Celebration

The 2020 Alex Awards winners will be celebrated virtually next week on June 11 at 3:30pm EST and will run for 75 minutes. The virtual celebration will feature a Q&A session with the winning authors. Register now.

The Alex Awards are given to ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18. The winning titles are selected from the previous year’s publishing. The Alex Awards were first given annually beginning in 1998 and became an official ALA award in 2002. The award is sponsored by the Margaret A. Edwards Trust.

Participating authors include:

  • Angie Cruz, Dominicana, published by Flatiron Books, an imprint of Macmillan Publishers.
  • AJ Dungo, In Waves, published by Nobrow.
  • C. A. Fletcher, A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World, published by Orbit, a division of Hachette Group.
  • Maia Kobabe, Gender Queer: A Memoir, published by Lion Forge, an imprint of Oni Press.
  • Seanan McGuire, Middlegame, published by Tor.com Publishing, an imprint of Tom Doherty Associates, a division of Macmillan.
  • Casey McQuiston, Red, White & Royal Blue, published by St. Martin’s Griffin, a division of St. Martin’s Publishing Group, an imprint of Macmillan Publishers.
  • Temi Oh, Do You Dream of Terra-Two?,  published by Saga Press/Gallery Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. Inc.
  • Sara Quin and Tegan Quin, High School, published by MCD, a division of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, and imprint of Macmillan Publishers.

Participation is free, but registration is required. Register now.

Virtual celebrations for YALSA’s Printz and Odyssey Award, along with other ALA book and media awards will be celebrated on June 28. More information will be announced soon.

Interview with P. Djèlí Clark, 2019 Alex Award Winner

The Alex Awards are given to ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18. For more information about the award and previous winners, check out the Alex Awards page on the YALSA website.

 P. Djèlí Clark wrote The Black God’s Drums, Published by Tor.com, an imprint of Tom Doherty Associates, a division of Macmillan. Creeper has her sights on leaving the streets of New Orleans and starting a new adventure on an airship. But first she will need to partner with the reluctant Captain Ann-Marie to save a kidnapped Haitian scientist and stop the use of a dangerous weapon. Wildly original with spy nuns and sky pirates, this steampunk alternate history is a winning adventure.

Becky Reiser, 2019 Alex Award committee member, interviewed P. Djèlí Clark about his book. The recorded interview is available below.

Continue reading Interview with P. Djèlí Clark, 2019 Alex Award Winner

Interview with David Small, 2019 Alex Award Winner

The Alex Awards are given to ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18. For more information about the award and previous winners, check out the Alex Awards page on the YALSA website.

David Small wrote and illustrated Home After Dark, published by Liveright, an imprint of W.W. Norton & Company. After his mother abandons them, his father uproots thirteen-year-old Russell Pruitt to a rundown town in 1950s California. Russell tries to fit in while navigating a landscape of homophobic bullies and a serial animal killer.  David Small’s storytelling and lush illustrations capture all the uncertainties of adolescence in this coming of age story.

Becky Reiser, 2019 Alex Award committee member, interviewed David Small about his book.

Your graphic novel Home After Dark,chronicles the 50s-era adolescence of Russell Pruitt. Although it less common to hear about a teen running away with his bike today, do you feel there are parallels to teens coming of age in 2019?
Yes, I do think there are parallels. After all, the process of the body’s hormonal development, the growth patterns of our brains haven’t changed. I’m quite sure kids now process things as they always have; there are just so many new things to process and a new rapidity to it all. We’re all on a roller-coaster of informational overload, but with teens, there is a rush to grow up, and they have the Web, with exposure to matters that are both critical and intangible. There is always, with teenagers, an incentive to seem mature about things which they aren’t even genuinely curious about until certain hormones kick in. There is a sophistication in our youth that wasn’t there in the 50’s, or at least a veneer of it. The overlay of irony and sarcasm which permeates everything nowadays gives kids an air of urbanity, though I’m sure it’s no more than a surface impression.

Continue reading Interview with David Small, 2019 Alex Award Winner

Interview with Jonathan Evison, 2019 Alex Award Winner

The Alex Awards are given to ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18. For more information about the award and previous winners, check out the Alex Awards page on the YALSA website.

Jonathan Evison is the author of Lawn Boy, published by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, a division of Workman Publishing. Twenty-something Mike Muñoz is passionate about the art of landscaping–a fresh cut lawn and a creative topiary. Caught between taking care of his mother and brother and trying to strike out on his own, Mike is not-so-patiently waiting for a lucky break. His struggle is familiar and heartbreaking, and it’s impossible not to root for him as he chases the elusive American Dream.

Becky Reiser, 2019 Alex Award committee member, interviewed Jonathan Evison about his book.

First, of all, I really enjoyed Lawn Boy! Where did you get the idea for Mike Muñoz to work as a “landscape artist”? Was it important that he had a job doing manual labor?
I’ve always wanted to write a novel about class in America, and ultimately I decided I wanted to write it from the perspective of a laborer. Among the many jobs I worked before I managed to scratch out a living as a novelist was landscaper. For years I worked in wealthy people’s yards and became very familiar with the dynamic between the haves and the have-nots. Like Mike, I was raised by a single mom; a working class kid in an otherwise affluent community. I started working under the table when I was ten years old, bussing tables at a restaurant called Jon Patrick’s in Pioneer Square in Seattle, where my waitress sister paid me out of her tips. So most of my life I’ve been serving people one way or another. All those years laboring, I always tried to nurture my creative aspirations, though I didn’t have much of a support system in place. So, I guess more than anything I drew heavily from personal experience in writing Mike.

Continue reading Interview with Jonathan Evison, 2019 Alex Award Winner

#ALAAC18 Recap: Alex Award Ceremony

The Alex Awards are given to ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18. The winning titles are selected from the previous year’s publishing. The Alex Awards were first given annually beginning in 1998 and became an official ALA award in 2002. For more information about the Alex Awards and this years other winners, see the YALSA website and the Teen Book Finder App.

Three of this year’s honorees were in attendance at #alaac18 to accept their awards, answer questions, and sign copies of their books. Below are brief recaps of their speeches along with a recommendation for fans of their work from each author.

Continue reading #ALAAC18 Recap: Alex Award Ceremony

2017 Alex Awards Winners: An Interview with Sarah Beth Durst on The Queen of Blood

cover art for The Queen of Blood by Sarah Beth DurstThe Queen of Blood is the first book in Sarah Beth Durst’s Queens of Renthia series and one of the winner’s of YALSA’s 2017 Alex Awards. Today I’m thrilled to have Sarah Beth Durst here on the Hub to answer some questions about the book.

Congratulations on The Queen of Blood’s selection as a 2017 Alex Award finalist! Where were you when you heard the news? Who was the first person you told about your win?

Sarah Beth Durst (SBD): Thank you so much!!!

Shortly after I heard the news, I called my mom.

Me:  “My book won the Alex Award!”

My mom: “My dog was attacked by three coyotes.  I chased them off.”

Me:  “We had very different mornings.”

She began her day to the sound of her dog yelping.  Looking out the window, she saw three coyotes had pinned him to the ground out beside the well.  She ran outside — without any kind of anything to defend herself — and shouted at the coyotes.  Scared them off.  The dog was fine.

I began my day to the sound of the garbage truck rumbling one street over.  Looking out the window, I saw the truck hadn’t reached my street yet.  I ran around the house — without any kind of anything to defend myself — trying to empty all the trash cans and toss out anything suspiciously green and fuzzy in the kitchen before the garbage truck reached my street.  And as I was scurrying around, I was checking my email on my phone, because multitasking.  I saw an email from one of my editors that read, “Congratulations on the Alex!!!  Just heard the news!!”

I was floored.  It’s a moment I’ll never forget (though I did, in the moment, forget all about the garbage truck!).  I’ve wanted to be a writer my entire life, and to have librarians (the ultimate book experts) essentially say, “We like your book, and we think other people will too.”…  Really, it means the world to me.  I am so honored and grateful and thrilled! Continue reading 2017 Alex Awards Winners: An Interview with Sarah Beth Durst on The Queen of Blood

ALA Annual 2016: Alex Award Recap with Ryan Gattis

One of the best highlights of this year’s trip to ALA Annual was undoubtedly the Alex Award ceremony on Sunday, June 26th. A small group of dedicated individuals, including current and former committee members, made their way to the South Conference Center to listen to 2016 Chair Angela Craig deliver a brief presentation on the top ten award-winners and the vetted titles and hear the acceptance speech of special guest Ryan Gattis, author of All Involved (2016 Alex Award Winner).

In the wake of the acquittals over Rodney King’s beating at the hands of a few members in the Los Angeles Police Department, much of the Los Angeles metropolitan area experienced riots, lootings, arson, and violence including murders. Just six days of lawlessness resulted in:

  • eleven thousand fires
  • just under eleven thousand arrests
  • over two thousand people injured
  • more than $1 billion in property damages
  • approximately sixty deaths.

During these six days, Gattis set his novel and chose various characters taken from real interviews with those who experienced the riots, bringing to life the different realities during this turbulent period. Gang members, a firefighter, a nurse, a dreamer, an artist, a homeless man, and others give unique testimonies to all sides of the 1992 violence and show the complexities of survival, vengeance, desperation, and loss.

For more information about the history of the period, see www.lariotsallinvolved.com.

Award winner Ryan Gattis at ALA Annual, Orlando 2016

During Ryan’s acceptance speech, he described his own history with violence and how it created an author:

“I was seventeen when my nose was torn out of my face. Seventeen, when I had two facial reconstructive surgeries to fix it. I was eighteen when my senses of smell and taste returned. Before, I was on track to apply to the US Air Force Academy, and after, all I wanted to be was a storyteller. 

Suffering violence, enduring it and not allowing it to determine everything about me has made me who I am today. And that is a very difficult thing to say, but an important thing.”

Winning an Alex has brought about some powerful results for Gattis, who shortly after the award, was asked to speak at Marco Antonio Firebaugh High School in Lynwood in South Central Los Angeles, an area described: “as inextricable from Compton as Long Beach Boulevard, sharing all of its violence and troubles but none of its notoriety”. They had not known he had won an Alex, but afterwards, were more enthused at the news. Upon his visit, in an area where “South Central Los Angeles is an island unto itself [and] the cities within it are locked off from the LA tax base and school system and must fend for themselves,” Ryan and his publishers (Ecco, HarperCollins, Picador and Macmillan in the UK, and Writers House in New York) were able to donate 150 books to students and over 100 to the library, including 2016 Alex Award titles. He found that the high school students knew very little of the Rodney King riots because “the generation before them had made an unspoken pact not to raise their children as they had been raised”. This discovery was “incredibly moving” and “filled [me] with hope for Lynwood and its future”. He shared with attendees a few photos and described his experience: 

“Their students are young and excited and so eager to learn but they don’t read. They don’t read enough. So all I did when I went in there was talk about what reading means to me and how it changed my life. Especially the year of my life where I was basically a hermit trying to recover from my surgeries and…and my injury…”

Soon after this visit, he describes how he was invited to Lynwood Middle School and visited immediately after a second 8th grader was killed due to gang violence, an 8th grader whose “body had been discovered in a parked car at the end of an alley”.

He notes: “Standing in front of a room full of young teenagers who know the cost of violence, who are dealing with its monstrous grief, at that very moment being asked to comfort them, to inspire them, is by far the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. And yet…nowhere was it more important to say that reading helps us learn the consequences of behavior without having to suffer them ourselves. I remain in awe of the decision that the Alex committee have, not least because its incredible foresight forced me to see my work more clearly but it also pushed me to refocus my efforts to make certain that I reach an entirely new generation in Lynwood, and I do whatever I can to inspire them to be writers to tell their own stories to the world.” Continue reading ALA Annual 2016: Alex Award Recap with Ryan Gattis

Booklist: YA Alternate History

June is history month, and while there’s a ton of great historical fiction for teens out there, it’s also a perfect time to start asking “What if?”

What if the American Revolution never happened?

What if the Axis Powers won World War II?

Alternate history books are a great way to explore these questions, and alternate history for teens is becoming increasingly popular. Here are a few books to get you started.

ALTERNATE HISTORY IN YA FICTION

These stories can blend speculative elements with historical facts, which is perfect for prompting discussion about what is truth and what is fiction in the novels discussed. They can also prompt readers to explore more nonfiction about the time period.  Continue reading Booklist: YA Alternate History

Crossovers: It Happened to Me

Jon and David Kushner
David and Jon Kushner

Earlier this year, journalist David Kushner published his eloquent memoir, Alligator Candy. At the core of his story is a terrible crime. When Kushner was just four-years-old, he watched his older brother, Jon, ride away on his bicycle, never to return. Jon’s mutilated body was found later. At first, Kushner is a confused small boy missing his brother, fearing that he could have prevented the crime had he not requested candy from the store. Then, as a thirteen-year-old boy, he secretly begins reading accounts from the newspapers on microfilm at the library. There were details that he couldn’t have even imagined as a four-year-old boy.

After publishing several books and articles as an adult, Kushner was ready to write about Jon’s disappearance and murder. As part of his research, he received access to police records. He discovers details that are so horrific that he wonders how his family survived.  Kushner also realizes that while Jon’s disappearance and murder devastated his family, the entire community was deeply affected by the violence of the crime.

Continue reading Crossovers: It Happened to Me