Annal: 1996 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature

Results of the National Book Award in the year 1996.

Book:Parrot in the Oven

Parrot in the Oven: Mi vida

Victor Martinez

Perico, or parrot, was what Dad called me sometimes. It was from a Mexican saying about a parrot that complains how hot it is in the shade, while all along he’s sitting inside an oven and doesn’t know it….

For Manuel Hernandez, the year leading up to his test of courage, his initiation into a gang, is a time filled with the pain and tension, awkwardness and excitement of growing up in a crazy world. His dad spends most of his time and money at the local pool hall; his brother flips through jobs like a thumb through a deck of cards; and his mom never stops cleaning the house, as though one day the rooms will be so spotless they’ll disappear into a sparkle, and she’ll be free.

Manny’s dad is always saying that people are like money—there are million- and thousand- and hundred-dollar people out there, and to him, Manny is just a penny. But Manny wants to be more than a penny, smarter than the parrot in the oven. He wants…[more]

Book:A Girl Named Disaster

A Girl Named Disaster

Nancy Farmer

Nhamo’s mother is dead, and her father is gone. She is a virtual slave in her small African village. Before her twelfth birthday, Nhamo learns that she must marry a cruel man with three other wives—and decides desperately to run away. Alone on the river, in a stolen boat, she is swept into the uncharted heart of a great lake. There, she battles drowning, starvation, and wild animals, and comes to know Africa’s mystical, luminous spirits.

Nancy Farmer’s masterful storytelling makes this a truly spellbinding novel—and readers will be cheering for Nhamo from beginning to end. A gripping adventure, equally a survival story and a spiritual voyage, Nhamo is a stunning creation—while she serves as a fictional ambassador from a foreign culture, she is supremely human. An unforgettable work.

Book:The Long Season of Rain

The Long Season of Rain

Helen Kim

When the grey Korean Changma—the rainy season—arrives, eleven-year-old Junehee resigns herself to long months cooped up with her sisters, her mother, and her grandmother. But this year, the Changma brings more than water. Orphaned by a mudslide, a young boy comes to live in Junehee’s house—and stirs up long-hidden secrets in her family.

For as the rain drums out its story on the sloped roofs of the village, Junehee’s own family story unfolds. And Junehee soon realizes that her mother’s sadness is tied to a long-standing tradition that neglects women’s dreams—a tradition that Junehee hopes to break free of…

Book:Send Me Down a Miracle

Send Me Down a Miracle

Han Nolan

Things used to be normal in Casper, Alabama. Charity Pittman was a regular fourteen-year-old, the perfect daughter, following in her preacher father’s footsteps. But then Adrienne arrived, with her big-city ways and artsy ideas. Reverend Pittman thinks she’s the devil incarnate. Charity thinks she’s amazing.

But no one knows what to think of Adrienne when she claims she’s seen Jesus.

In the heartening and humorous book that made the National Book Award shortlist, Han Nolan visits a small town that’s praying for a miracle but heading for disaster.

Book:What Jamie Saw

What Jamie Saw

Carolyn Coman

When Jamie saw him throw the baby, saw Van throw the little baby, saw Van throw his little sister Nin, then they moved.

So begins one of the most compelling novels for young readers published in recent memory. It is a story of survival—how nine-year-old Jamie, his mother, and his baby sister Nin leave an abusive situation, move to a small trailer in the woods, and slowly learn how to trust the people around them—and each other.

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