#ALAMW19 Recap: Read-a-Likes for Boots on the Ground, 2019 Nonfiction Award Finalist

Boots on the Ground book coverElizabeth Partridge’s book, Boots on the Ground is a 2019 YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award Finalist. In what may be her best book yet, the author brings history to life, through first person interviews and photographs.  Boots on the Ground brings the Vietnam War into sharp focus for our young adult readers.

In Boots on the Ground, the author presents first person interviews with people with very different perspectives on the Vietnam War, including soldiers, medical personnel, a protester state-side, and a refugee.  These personal narratives are interspersed with facts of the U.S. government and societal views occurring at the time, as well as treatment of veterans after the war, and the creation of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C. The book is a visceral immersion into the war.


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#ALAMW19 Recap: Interviewing Vesper Stamper, author of When the Night Sings, 2019 Morris Award Finalist

What made you choose a YA story?

I hadn’t intended it as a YA story originally! I’ve always pursued picture books, but in grad school I began writing this as an adult story. It was my agent’s idea to make Gerta a teenager, and when I took that chance, the story practically wrote itself. When the character’s right, she tells you her own story!

Can you say in a few words what it was like to visit the concentration camps and the impact they had on your story?

It was difficult, of course, but necessary. It’s one thing to read about a place, or listen to someone tell you about it, but when I was in the physical places (Bergen Belsen, Terezin, Auschwitz), it felt like I’d been entrusted with something tangible to bring back to my readers—like a trunk of a loved one’s belongings, each with a story attached. These are places that change you. They’re terrible to go to, but anyone who can go, should.

Continue reading #ALAMW19 Recap: Interviewing Vesper Stamper, author of When the Night Sings, 2019 Morris Award Finalist

#ALAMW19 Recap: Best Fiction for Young Adults 2019 Top Ten

During the Teen Feedback Session at ALA Midwinter, teens from Seattle and Oregon shared their opinions about the books on the Best Fiction for Young Adults 2019 list. With their input, the BFYA 2019 Blogging team determined the BFYA 2019 Top Ten:

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#ALAMW19 Recap: Interviewing Jarrett J. Krosoczka, author of Hey, Kiddo, 2019 Nonfiction Award Finalist

Cover of Hey, Kiddo
Image courtesy of Jarrett J Krosoczka

Graphic memoir Hey, Kiddo is a finalist for YALSA’s Excellence in Nonfiction Award, as well as a nominee for multiple other book awards. Author and illustrator Jarrett Krosoczka was kind enough to answer a few questions for The Hub.

Congratulations on Hey, Kiddo being nominated for multiple awards! As a reader, I particularly loved your chapter heading pages with all their fascinating details. As the creator, do you have a favorite page or panel in this book?

Thank you so much! My favorite aspect of an illustrated book is the page turn. It’s something that you really can only experience once the book is printed and in your hands. I just love that moment when you turn the pages and watch the story visually unfold. So…my most favorite page-turn in HEY, KIDDO is that scene when preschool Jarrett is struggling with the assignment to draw his family, and then in that moment when you turn the page, a  double-page spread reveals the portrait drawn in crayon.

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#ALAMW19 Recap: Interviewing John Hendrix, author of The Faithful Spy, 2019 Nonfiction Award Finalist

 John Hendrix is a finalist for the 2019 YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award. His book, The Faithful Spy is a biography of Dietrich Bonheoffer, a German pastor who makes the ultimate sacrifice in order to free the German people from oppression during World War II.

Can you talk a little bit about what drew you to Dietrich Bonhoeffer originally and why you chose to write this book for this audience?

I had read Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s theology in college, and knew of his journey, … so I have always wanted to share this story, but working primarily as a picture book artist and writer, I couldn’t get DB’s story to fit in that format… so I went with a longer middle grade prose/graphic novel hybrid. Seemed the right fit for the story. There are so many stories from WW2, what I liked about Bonhoeffer was the collision of ethics and action, faith and the world. Being a Christian myself, I think he asks some pretty relevant questions about where faith and action intersect in a broken world


Dietrich Bonhoeffer really began thinking of himself as a theologian as a teen. In an era when much of society tends to be critical about religion in general, and books for teens tend to focus on teens struggling against their family’s religious traditions, what do you think Bonhoeffer’s example offers for today’s teens?

Even if you have no interest in theology, Dietrich has a lot to offer young people. Primarily, he is asking the basic questions of ethics: how and when do our beliefs in our hearts intersect with our actions? You can’t understand Dietrich’s grappling with that question without understanding his Christianity. You can call it religious, but Christianity were his ‘first principles’ and motivated how he navigated his ethical choices. Bonhoeffer wrote about a concept called “Civil Courage” a strength of purpose and character that is grounding in something beyond the self that motivates one to action in the public arena. 


How do Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s views about civil courage and sacrifice on behalf of “the other” to teen lives today?

One central theme in Bonhoeffer’s writings were others. His writing about the church, in “Life Together” and to some degree in his Ph.D “Sancto Communio” were a realization that the church is not the church if you are alone, or only interested in yourself. It seems basic when written down, but when lived out it is transformational. Christians believe that Christ is present in the church, and if the church is others-centric, that “otherness” is a central tenet of Christian theology. I think this is important to underscore because ‘religious activity’ is often stigmatized as what you do to ‘save your soul’ or a set of behaviors that prove your ethical “worth” because you follow rules. Regardless of your spiritual leanings, placing others ahead of yourself is a kind of teaching that is so foundational it has laid grooves into the universe… we all live better when we practice them.


In the  “Research and Authenticity” notes at the back of the book you talk about omissions. Is there a particular scene or event in Bonhoeffer’s life that you left out that you would love to have included? If so, what was it and how might you have designed it?

So many to have included, one I mention in the end matter was the fact that Bonhoeffer was in correspondence with Ghandi, and nearly went to India to study with him, but felt his work in the Confessing Church was much more important. One of those little overlaps of history that is very noteworthy and sad to leave out. I also did not put much in about Russia and their part in WW2, which was critical to an allied victory, and yet I just didn’t have the narrative space for it.


You made some interesting and effective choices in designing this book. Why did you choose to hand letter the text? Why did you opt for a three-color palette?

The design choices in the book were critical to the storytelling…. the color scheme was intentional to help tell the story in a visual form. I chose the red and teal to help show each of the stories in a clear visual signature, Hitler in red and Bonhoeffer in the teal. The colors are unsettling together, they create a kind of visual vibration, and as the two stories overlap, of Hitler and Dietrich, the colors overlap too, reinforcing the colliding content. The text is my handwriting, but the book is not handlettered (at least the body copy) I hired a designer/illustrator named John Martz to convert my handwriting to a typeface with 4 alternate glyphs per character that swap out at random to create a hand-drawn look. But the typeface offers some more consistency and makes translations to other languages easier too.


You have worked as both an illustrator  and an author-illustrator. What are some of the upsides and downsides of illustrating the work of others and being responsible for a complete project?

They each have their own benefits and drawbacks, and I enjoy each equally if you can believe that! When you work with someone else’s manuscript, you are just so easily surprised by what you create. When Tom Angleberger wrote “McToad Mows Tiny Island” I was thrilled to get to draw McToad on a mower throughout the whole book, I just never get a chance to draw animals with hats on! But, I also love the control when it comes to building a visual story that I also get to write. (Of course, sometimes, having too much control over a project is also problematic, when it comes to endlessly being able to change everything.)


You began you career as an illustrator and picture book author. What were the greatest struggles you faced in writing a much longer book? Was there anything you learned along the way that you could offer as advice to aspiring authors/illustrators?

I made some BIG rookie mistakes on my first draft. It is embarrassing to say now, but I just didn’t cite all my quotes in the first draft. I had read the books so closely, I thought I’d just remember where they all came from! Well, when I went to create my references and quotation list, I was in big trouble. I found them all eventually, but just do yourself a favor and cite them as you write. Also, I thought that the writing would be much faster than the art making ( I was used to the art taking so long, I thought that the writing would be much faster in contrast). I was very wrong in that department. Each process is time-consuming and requires tons of revisions. Looking back, that seems like a very obvious conclusion.. but yes, the process was long and full of changes. 


Can you tell us anything about your next book or other upcoming projects?

I’m hoping to revisit the longer middle grade format soon, but the project on my desk right now is a classic picture book. I am writing and illustrating a follow up to my 2016 book Miracle Man: The Story of Jesus. This book is a collections of some of Jesus’ parables and teachings, for young readers. Tentatively titled “Go and Do Likewise!,” it is scheduled to be out early 2020 from Abrams Books for Young Readers. I also have an illustrated collaboration with actor/writer Thomas Lennon, called “Ronan Boyle and the Bridge of Riddles” which will be out in March of 2019. That book is a middle grade chapter book about a magical police force in Ireland, and let me tell you, this book is SO funny.







#ALAMW19 Recap: Interviewing Tomi Adeyemi, author of Children of Blood and Bone, 2019 Morris Award Finalist

Tomi Adeyemi is a finalist for the 2019 William C. Morris YA Debut Award for her absorbing novel Children of Blood and Bone, published by Henry Holt Books, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group.

In Children of Blood and Bone, magic once ran in the bloodlines of the people of Orïsha. Diviners, children born with white hair, were destined to become maji in their teenage years, when they would develop abilities to control natural forces such as fire, water, and even life and death. These maji were an influential part of monarchy until King Saran eradicated magic through the slaughter of all adult maji. Those remaining–the diviner children and those of their bloodline–were subjugated under restrictive laws and made to suffer. Now seventeen, diviner Zélie remembers the night her mother was taken, and though she dreams of revenge and revolution, without magic her people are powerless. Then she meets runaway princess Amari, who fled King Saran with an ancient relic that she claims can restore magic. As they embark on a dangerous quest to unlock the relic’s potential, Amari’s conflicted brother Inan pursues them with his father’s soldiers.

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#ALAMW19 Recap: Interviewing Don Brown, author of The Unwanted, 2019 Nonfiction Award Winner

If you were living in a refugee camp and met a non-refugee stranger in need, would you be willing to give them the coat off your back? What if you were thousands of miles away from home, and that was the only coat that you owned? During his time at the Syrian refugee camps in Greece, this is the selflessness and generosity that Don Brown and his family experienced from the refugees there. In his book, The Unwanted: Stories of Syrian Refugees, the 2019 YALSA Nonfiction Award Winner, Brown (the book’s writer and illustrator) imparts this message, that Syrian refugees are ordinary individuals placed in extraordinary circumstances, forced to make terrifying decisions but maintaining their humanity, generosity, and kindness.

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#ALAMW19 Recap: 2019 YALSA Book & Media Award Winners

The Youth Media Awards took place this past Monday at ALA’s 2019 Midwinter Meeting. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the winners and honor books of YALSA’s Alex, Edwards, Morris, Nonfiction, Odyssey, and Printz Awards, as well as the other ALA book and media awards. The winners are:

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Share Your Mock YMA Results!

The post below is cross posted from the ALSC blog. If you’ve done any mock awards at your library (not just the Printz, though we’re especially excited about that one here at the Hub) please share the results with us!

In just over two weeks, on Monday morning, January 28th, the Youth Media Awards will be announced at #alamw19. Excitedly, we will all hear what wins some of the most prestigious book awards in the world, including the Newbery Award, the Caldecott Award, the Printz Award, the Batchelder Award, and more. As excitement builds, librarians in schools and libraries around the country offer Mock YMA elections to help stimulate and share the reading enthusiasm and excitement. The ALSC Blog collects results from these mock elections and compiles the results on its Mock Elections page.

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Share your Mock Printz (and other Mock YMA) Results With Us!

It’s that time of year again!

The ALA Youth Media Awards are right around the corner! At this year’s Midwinter Meeting, we’ll find out which titles were selected for the Printz, the Newbery, the Caldecott, and many more.

But perhaps excitement for this year’s best kid lit is so high in your community that you’ve decided to bring some of the fun to your library and offer a Mock Award program? If so, we want to hear from you! Continue reading Share your Mock Printz (and other Mock YMA) Results With Us!