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Tag: Tanya Lee Stone

ALA Midwinter 2014: YALSA’s Morris/Nonfiction Award Program & Presentation

morris_nonfiction_program_alamw2014The morning of Monday, January 28th, at the ALA Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia was filled with excitement. Right on the heels of the ALA Youth Media Awards came YALSA’s Morris/Nonfiction Program & Presentation, and the whole room was abuzz to celebrate this year’s finalists and winners of the William C. Morris YA Debut Award and the Award for Excellent in Nonfiction for Young Adults.

Emceed by YALSA President Shannon Peterson, the program began with the Morris Award winner and finalists, introduced by Dorcas Wong, 2014 Morris Award Committee Chair.

Sex & ViolenceCarrie Mesrobian, author of Morris finalist Sex and Violence, gave a heartfelt speech recounting the significance of libraries in her formative years. She was an avid library user during her youth, but never interacted with librarians as a teen. Despite this, she said, “No matter that I never spoke to a single librarian, the librarians kept the shelves stocked… Librarians regularly and reliably provided me with the books I needed.” And for that, she said, she is “forever grateful.”

Dr. Bird's Advice for Sad PoetsEvan Roskos, author of Morris finalist Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets, had everyone in stitches by observing that being honored for the Morris is a truly a once in a lifetime opportunity because, well… he can only debut once. He then told a story about how his book empowered a teen reader to get help for their mental health concerns. Of course, the inspiring nature of this anecdote turned to hilarity as he observed that “Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets actually caused someone to seek therapy.” He concluded by sharing his four-year-old son’s reaction to seeing his book cover. “Daddy, YOU wrote Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus?” This author is just as hilarious and thoughtful as his book.

Nonfiction Award Finalist: Courage Has No Color, by Tanya Stone

CourageHasNoColorHistory and biography are among my favorite types of nonfiction to read. There is something extra powerful about a story that reads like fiction, is filled with the same themes that make the best fiction unforgettable, but rests on a foundation of truth and having actually happened. Even the most exciting fiction asks the reader to eventually think “what if this was real?” while nonfiction brings me to constantly reflect on how amazing humans are, and what can be accomplished in the face of incredible odds.

So in some ways I was predisposed to enjoy the YALSA nonfiction nomination Courage Has No Color, The True Story of The Triple Nickles: Americas’ First Black Paratroopers by Tanya Lee Stone from the title alone. I should probably also admit here to a paralyzing fear of heights, so the idea of jumping out of a plane voluntarily is pretty unimaginable to me. Choosing to face prejudice, train independently, and jump out of a plane in the context of military combat is even more incredible, but that is just what the brave members of the “Triple Nickels,”  U.S. army’s 555th Parachute Infantry Battalion, did.

During World War II, the U.S. military service remained deeply segregated. As the book introduced me to the men who would go on to become the Triple Nickles, it was humbling to me how many enlisted in the army when the war began through a deep desire to serve a country that would not fully accept them and afford them the same privileges as their white counterparts– a feeling reinforced as I learned that for most black men enlisting in the service at that time, the only jobs available were service jobs, such as oiling machinery, working in mess halls, or in the case of the founding members of the Triple Nickles, working as night guards at the paratrooper training grounds of Fort Benning, GA. Walter Morris noted that morale among his men was low, and formed a plan to start training in secret with the same drills that paratroopers practiced by day while on their night watch. This sets the tone of the whole incredible story: men who chose to become the best they could be at a job that was both dangerous and thrilling, in spite of receiving little or no support.

Spotlight on YALSA’s Nonfiction Award Finalists: Fiction Readalikes for Courage Has No Color by Tanya Lee Stone

CourageHasNoColorCourage Has No Color: The True Story of the Triple Nickles, America’s First Black Paratroopers by Tanya Lee Stone is one of the finalists for the 2014 YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults. Great nonfiction can encourage readers to find out more about its subject matter, which often leads them to seek out great fiction based on the same topic.

Racism and discrimination of all kinds on the home front and in the military didn’t stop when the US entered the war in 1941.  Just like in Tanya Lee Stone’s Courage Has No Color, the following novels examine the wartime experiences of young African Americans at home and in the armed forces during World War II.

History of American Women through Books

March is National Women’s History Month. This year was the 100th anniversary of the Women’s Suffrage Parade in Washington D.C. As a tribute and celebration to all the previous women who have challenged rules, broken rules, and changed the world, here’s a list of books throughout America’s history from a woman’s perspective.


Major Events Include: the Jamestown settlement, Mayflower Voyage, and Salem Witch Trials.

Books in this time period include:

Witch Child by Celia Rees
Mary admits that she’s a witch. She travels from England to the New World in hopes of escaping the same fate as her grandmother. The more she sees in the New World, the more she tries to hide her true self, until she can’t take it any longer.



Memories of the Inaugural YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction

almost astronauts tanya lee stone yalsa nonfiction award sealThere 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!

Libraries in Teen Books

It’s Library Card Sign-Up Month. With the focus this month on trying to get new library customers and issuing as many new cards as possible, I thought I’d try to come up with some YA books that have libraries as a part of the plot. Surprisingly, for a place where so many of us spend so much time, and that many authors say they go to for inspiration and research, the library itself is not featured a lot in YA books – unlike books for younger readers (i.e. Brandon Sanderson’s Alcatraz Versus The Evil Librarians and other books in the series, and many other books) or adults – just think of all of those murders in libraries in the Agatha Christie and other mystery books. Or, if it is, it’s not portrayed as the place teens want to spend any time in unless they have to.

The YA series that immediately came to mind was Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Josh Whedon’s TV series, the paperbacks written by various authors, and the Buffy graphic novels. I still miss the TV show. Giles was a great librarian!

Here are some other YA books where libraries – public and school – do play a prominent role or contain a memorable scene(s).

A Bad Boy Can be Good for a Girl by Tanya Lee Stone is about teen girls who write comments in library copy of Judy Blume’s Forever and pass it around about a “bad” boy as a warning for other girls.


Bumped by Megan McCafferty (2012 Best Fiction for Young Adults nominee) takes place in 2036 where the children’s room in the local public library is an historical artifact, rarely used, but it’s open, and the two main characters Melody and Zen go there frequently to hang out alone in the children’s playhouse.