Annal: 1998 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature

Results of the National Book Award in the year 1998.

Book:Holes (Louis Sachar)

Holes

Louis Sachar

A darkly humorous tale of crime and punishment, by the author of There’s a Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom.

Stanley Yelnats’s family has a history of bad luck, so he isn’t too surprised when a miscarriage of justice sends him to a boys’ juvenile detention center, Camp Green Lake. There is no lake—it has been dry for over a hundred years—and it’s hardly a camp. As punishment, the boys must each dig a hole a day, five feet deep, five feet across, in the hard earth of the dried-up lake bed. The warden claims that this pointless labor builds character, but she is really using the boys to dig for loot buried by the Wild West outlaw Kissin’ Kate Barlow. The story of Kissin’ Kate, and of a curse put on Stanley’s great-great-grandfather by a one-legged Gypsy, weaves a narrative puzzle that tangles and untangles, until it becomes clear that the hand of fate has been at work in the lives of the characters—and their forebears—for generations.

With this wonderfully inventive, compelling novel that is both serious and funny, Louis Sachar has written his best book to date.

Book:Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key

Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key

Jack Gantos

“They say I’m wired bad, or wired sad, but there’s no doubt about it—I’m wired.”

Joey Pigza’s got heart, he’s got a mom who loves him, and he’s got “dud meds,” which is what he calls the Ritalin pills that are supposed to even out his wild mood swings. Sometimes Joey makes bad choices. He learns the hard way that he shouldn’t stick his finger in the pencil sharpener, or swallow his house key, or run with scissors. Joey ends up bouncing around a lot - and eventually he bounces himself all the way downtown, into the district special-ed program, which could be the end of the line. As Joey knows, if he keeps making bad choices, he could just fall between the cracks for good. But he is determined not to let that happen.

In this antic yet poignant new novel, Jack Gantos has perfect pitch in capturing the humor, the off-the-wall intensity, and the serious challenges that life presents to a kid dealing with hyperactivity and related disorders.

Book:A Long Way from Chicago

A Long Way from Chicago: A Novel in Stories

Richard Peck

What happens when Joey and his sister, Mary Alice—two city slickers from Chicago—make their annual summer visits to Grandma Dowdel’s seemingly sleepy Illinois town?

August 1929: They see their first corpse, and he isn’t resting easy.

August 1930: The Cowgill boys terrorize the town, and Grandma fights back.

August 1931: Joey and Mary Alice help Grandma trespass, poach, catch the sheriff in his underwear, and feed the hungry—all in one day.

And there’s more, as Joey and Mary Alice make seven summer trips to Grandma’s—each one funnier than the year before—in self-contained chapters that readers can enjoy as short stories or take together for a rollicking good novel. In the tradition of American humorists from Mark Twain to Flannery O’Connor, popular author Richard Peck has created a memorable world filled with characters who, like Grandma herself, are larger than life and twice as entertaining.

Book:No Pretty Pictures

No Pretty Pictures: A Child of War

Anita Lobel

The beloved Caldecott Honor artist now recounts a tale of vastly different kind—her own achingly potent memoir of a childhood of flight, imprisonment, and uncommon bravery in Nazi-occupied Poland. Anita Lobel was barely five when the war began and sixteen by the time she came to America from Sweden, where she had been sent to recover at the end of the war. This haunting book, illustrated with the author’s archival photographs, is the remarkable account of her life during those years. Poised, forthright, and always ready to embrace life, Anita Lobel is the main character in the most personal story she will ever tell.

Book:The Secret Life of Amanda K. Woods

The Secret Life of Amanda K. Woods

Ann Cameron

Eleven-year-old Amanda Woods is discovering that the person other people think she is and the person she really is are not the same. So she changes her name from bland Amanda Woods to Amanda K. Woods—someone who is proud and strong and sure of herself. And that small change sets off a chain reaction, leaving Amanda—and the whole Woods family—entirely different. Ann Cameron’s first novel for middle readers is every bit as insightful as her best-selling chapter books—and her fans will take Amanda to their hearts.

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