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.

#ALAAC18 Recap: Edwards Award Brunch

At ALA annual, Angela Johnson accepted the 2018 Margaret A. Edwards Award. The Edwards Award, established in 1988, honors an author, as well as a specific body of their work, for significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature. For more information about the award and past recipients, see the YALSA website and the Teen Book Finder App.

After the audience consumed many, many tiny adorable pastries, Angela Johnson gave a speech highlighting stories from her extensive career as a writer.

Continue reading #ALAAC18 Recap: Edwards Award Brunch

For the Love of Cats: Felines in YA Fiction

Last month I wrote about canines in YA literature. This month I want to give equal time to the felines. Firstly because I had the joy of growing up in a household of cats. Secondly, there are dastardly cat gangs out there which watch our every move, and I don’t want to get on their bad side. Or so goes the familiar negative image of cats in some popular lore. However, anyone who has actually shared their life with cats knows that this is not at all the reality. Each cat, like each dog, has its own characteristics, whether affectionate or independent, forgiving or wary. With that in mind, in the following list I’ve tried to include fiction titles which I feel are well-suited to teens and which include feline characters in a variety of roles and with a variety of personalities.

blacksadBlacksad (Blacksad series) by Juan Díaz Canales & Juanjo Guarnido

The Spanish Canales and Guarnido originally created their Eisner Award-winning detective noir graphic novel series for French readers, but the setting is early 1950s U.S. This first volume collects the first three issues, which include a murder mystery and stories concerning the effects of white supremacy on individuals and the Red Scare. Private Investigator John Blacksad is an unforgettable feline. Lucia Cedeira Serantes, in her summer 2005 Young Adult Library Services article “¿Es un Pájaro? ¿Es un Avión?.…Spanish Comics for American Libraries” mentions two of the issues in this volume as being among the best in graphic novels and comics from Spain. (Adult Graphic Novel)

Book of Night with Moon (Feline Wizards trilogy) by Diane Duane

This is the first novel in a series which combines science fantasy, adventure, horror and even humor. There is a secret civilization of cats in Manhattan complete with its own language, a glossary of which is included in the novel. When the world is threatened with invasion by monsters from the “Downside”, four cats – Rhiow, Saash, Urruah and Arhu — seek out the wizard responsible for the dire situation. The cats make interesting observations about the differences between human and feline culture. (Adult Fiction) Continue reading For the Love of Cats: Felines in YA Fiction

Celebrating Sharon Draper

As the U.S. celebrates Black History Month (and many broaden the discussion via #morethanamonth, #blackfuturemonth and #BlackHistoryYouDidntLearnInSchool), we teen lit fans have a chance to further amplify the #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement and spotlight African American book characters and authors. This year’s ALA Youth Media Awards gave us several welcome chances to highlight diversity via award winners, especially the 2015 Margaret A. Edwards Award winner, Sharon Draper, whose “significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature” is no secret to her fans.

sharon draper collage

The award is for these titles:

Pam Olszewski’s 8th grade Language Arts class in Westerville, Ohio, knows Draper’s work well. They can choose Tears of a Tiger, Forged by Fire, or Darkness Before Dawn for their realistic fiction novel, and told me why her work speaks to them:

There’s a lot of cliffhangers. You have a bond with [the characters]. It feels like they’re a real person. And the books are set in Ohio. –Bankole

Realistic and heart-moving. –Robert

Really inspiring. I felt like I wanted to read all of them. –Ethan K.

Reluctant readers can connect with her characters in a way that encourages them to read. I haven’t met a kid yet who didn’t love her work. –Mrs. Olszewski

I love finding out how authors get their start at writing, and Sharon Draper’s “author origin story” has to be one of the best. According to this BookPage interview, she was already an accomplished classroom teacher when she was challenged by a student from the back row one day: “Why don’t you write something?” She took this challenge to heart. Since entering and winning first prize in a literary contest, her prodigious book output has been capturing the attention of readers both inside the classroom and out. Draper has also written additional books for teens, books for tweens, books for teachers, and two books of poetry.

Even if you haven’t read one of her titles (and there’s no time like the present!), you probably know a teen who has. Ask around and start a discussion! Book award season, diversity movements, #blacklivesmatter, Black History Month, and even challenging one’s teacher to become a writer can all be catalysts for positive connection and change. You never know what may result! Congratulations, Sharon Draper!

-Becky O’Neil, currently reading Eleanor & Park, by Rainbow Rowell