Annal: 1999 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature

Results of the National Book Award in the year 1999.

Book:When Zachary Beaver Came to Town

When Zachary Beaver Came to Town

Kimberly Willis Holt

The red words painted on the trailer caused quite a buzz around town and before an hour was up, half of Antler was standing in line with two dollars clutched in hand to see the fattest boy in the world.
Toby Wilson is having the toughest summer of his life. It’s the summer his mother leaves for good; the summer his best friend’s brother returns from Vietnam in a coffin. And the summer that Zachary Beaver, the fattest boy in the world, arrives in their sleepy Texas town. While it’s a summer filled with heartache of every kind, it’s also a summer of new friendships gained and old friendships renewed. And it’s Zachary Beaver who turns the town of Antler upside down and leaves everyone, especially Toby, changed forever.

With understated elegance, Kimberly Willis Holt tells a compelling coming-of-age story about a thirteen-year-old boy struggling to find himself in an imperfect world. At turns passionate and humorous, this extraordinary novel deals sensitively and candidly with obesity, war, and the true power of friendship.

Book:The Birchbark House

The Birchbark House

Louise Erdrich

Omakayas and her family live on the land her people call the Island of the Golden-breasted Woodpecker. Although the chimookoman (white people) claim more and more of their land, life continues much as it always has. Every summer they build a new birchbark house; every fall they go to ricing camp to harvest and feast; they move to the cedar log house before the first snows arrive, and celebrate the end of the long winter at maple sugaring camp. Then, one winter night, the satisfying rhythms of their life are shattered when a visitor comes to their lodge, bringing with him an invisible enemy that will change things forever.

Book:Monster (Walter Dean Myers)

Monster

Walter Dean Myers

Sixteen-year-old Steve Harmon is on trial for murder. A Harlem drugstore owner was shot and killed in his store, and the word is that Steve served as the lookout.

Guilty or innocent, Steve becomes a pawn in the hands of “the system,” cluttered with cynical authority figures and unscrupulous inmates, who will turn in anyone to shorten their own sentences. For the first time, Steve is forced to think about who he is as he faces prison, where he may spend all the tomorrows of his life.

As a way of coping with the horrific events that entangle him, Steve, an amateur filmmaker, decides to transcribe his trial into a script, just like in the movies. He writes it all down, scene by scene, the story of how his whole life was turned around in an instant. But despite his efforts, reality is blurred and his vision obscured until he can no longer tell who he is or what is the truth. This compelling novel is Walter Dean Myers’s writing at its best.

Book:Speak: A Novel

Speak: A Novel

Laurie Halse Anderson

Melinda Sordino busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops. Now her old friends won’t talk to her, and people she doesn’t even know hate her from a distance. The safest place to be is alone, inside her own head. But even that’s not safe. Because there’s something she’s trying not to think about, something about the night of the party that, if she let it in, would blow her carefully constructed disguise to smithereens. And then she would have to speak the truth. This extraordinary first novel has captured the imaginations of teenagers and adults across the country.

Book:The Trolls

The Trolls

Polly Horvath

Aunt Sally is beyond any of Melissa, Amanda, and Pee Wee’s expectations. She has come all the way from Vancouver Island, Canada, to take care of the children while their parents are away, and right from the start Aunt Sally enchants them with tales of her childhood with their father. Odd characters figure largely in the stories, like Maud, a hunter rumored to have killed eighty cougars; Great-uncle Louis, a health nut who insists everyone should gnaw on sticks for extra fiber; and Fat Little Mean Girl, the star of a cautionary tale involving witchcraft and candy. All of Aunt Sally’s reminiscences lead up to a crucial story about trolls, sinister creatures who supposedly lurked along the shore at night. The trolls had the power to change Aunt Sally’s life forever, and their legacy may change the lives of the three present-day children as well.

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