Annal: 1981 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature

Results of the National Book Award in the year 1981.

Book:The Night Swimmers

The Night Swimmers

Betsy Byars

Retta, Johnny and Roy are the night swimmers: three children whose father leaves them alone while he performs as a singer.

Book:Ramona and Her Mother

Ramona and Her Mother

Beverly Cleary

Beverly Cleary has given books to each member of the Quimby household except Mrs. Quimby. Now she gets her turn at last in a story that hits the high and low points of a working mother’s life as seen from Ramona’s seven-and-a-half-year-old viewpoint.

Inevitably domestic tensions, not without their amusing side, occasionally arise. Mr. and Mrs. Quimby sometimes forget who is to do what, as when the Crock-Pot is not plugged in and dinner remains uncooked. Beezus acquires a ludicrous teased hairdo at the student body shop while Ramona gets a becoming pixie haircut. Ramona, who feels unloved, takes to twitching her nose like a rabbit in a cozy picture book until her teacher becomes concerned that something is making her nervous.

Yet Ramona is wrong. She is loved, and readers will rejoice with her when she discovers the wonderful truth. Few writers today are as skilled as Mrs. Cleary at showing families in the round, and here she is at the peak of her powers.

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