Honor roll: Children's books

Each of these Children's books has received at least one award nomination. They are ranked by honors received.

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 Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian: A Novel

Sherman Alexie, Ellen Forney

In his first book for young adults, bestselling author Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot. Heartbreaking, funny, and beautifully written, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, which is based on the author’s own experiences, coupled with poignant drawings by acclaimed artist Ellen Forney, that reflect the character’s art, chronicles the contemporary adolescence of one Native American boy as he attempts to break away from the life he was destined to live.

Book:Elijah of Buxton

Elijah of Buxton

Christopher Paul Curtis

As a first-generation freeborn black, 11-year-old Elijah Buxton had no direct experience with slavery. That changes, however, when a thief steals money set aside for freeing a friend’s enslaved family. Elijah sets off rapidly in pursuit, leaving behind his Canadian home and crossing into dangerous American territory, where he encounters terrifying evidence of the grievous human cost of slavery.

Book:A Northern Light

A Northern Light

Jennifer Donnelly

Mattie Gokey has a word for everything. She collects words, stores them up as a way of fending off the hard truths of her life, the truths that she can’t write down in stories.

The fresh pain of her mother’s death. The burden of raising her sisters while her father struggles over his brokeback farm. The mad welter of feelings Mattie has for handsome but dull Royal Loomis, who says he wants to marry her. And the secret dreams that keep her going—visions of finishing high school, going to college in New York City, becoming a writer.

Yet when the drowned body of a young woman turns up at the hotel where Mattie works, all her words are useless. But in the dead woman’s letters, Mattie again finds her voice, and a determination to live her own life.

Set in 1906 against the backdrop of the murder that inspired Theodore Dreiser’s An American Tragedy, this coming-of-age novel effortlessly weaves romance, history, and a murder mystery into something moving, and real, and wholly original.

Book:The Fire-Eaters

The Fire-Eaters

David Almond

Bobby Burns knows he’s a lucky lad. Growing up in sleepy Keely Bay, Bobby is exposed to all manner of wondrous things: stars reflecting off the icy sea, a friend that can heal injured fawns with her dreams, a man who can eat fire. But darkness seems to be approaching Bobby’s life from all sides. Bobby’s new school is a cold, cruel place. His father is suffering from a mysterious illness that threatens to tear his family apart. And the USA and USSR are testing nuclear missiles and creeping closer and closer to a world-engulfing war.

Together with his wonder-working friend, Ailsa Spink, and the fire-eating illusionist McNulty, Bobby will learn to believe in miracles that will save the people and place he loves.

Book:True Believer

True Believer

Virginia Euwer Wolff

We have a multitude of obstacles to overcome here. We’ll begin.

When LaVaughn was little, the obstacles in her life didn’t seem so bad. If she had a fight with Myrtle or Annie, it would never last long. If she was mad at her mother, they made up by bedtime. School was simple. Boys were buddies. Everything made sense.

But LaVaughn is fifteen and the obstacles aren’t going away anymore. Big questions separate her from her friends. Her mother is distracted by a new man. School could slip away from her so easily. And the boy who’s a miracle in her life acts just as if he’s in love with her. Only he’s not in love with her.

Returning to the characters and language she explored so profoundly in Make Lemonade, Virginia Euwer Wolff rises to the occasion in this astonishing second of three novels about LaVaughn, her family, and her community.

Book:The Giver

The Giver

Lois Lowry

Jonas’s world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear of pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the community. When Jonas turns 12 he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now, it is time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back.

Book:Balloons over Broadway

Balloons over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy's Parade

Melissa Sweet

Who invented the first balloons for Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade? Meet Tony Sarg, puppeteer extraordinaire! Everyone’s a New Yorker on Thanksgiving Day, when young and old rise early to see what giant new balloons will fill the skies for Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Who first invented these “upside-down puppets”? In brilliant collage illustrations, the award-winning artist Melissa Sweet tells the story of the puppeteer Tony Sarg, capturing his genius, his dedication, his zest for play, and his long-lasting gift to America—the inspired helium balloons that would become the trademark of Macy’s Parade.

Book:Black Potatoes

Black Potatoes: The Story of the Great Irish Famine, 1845-1850

Susan Campbell Bartoletti

In 1845, a disaster struck Ireland. Overnight, a mysterious blight attacked the potato crops, turning the potatoes black and destroying the only real food of nearly six million people.

Over the next five years, the blight attacked again and again. These years are known today as the Great Irish Famine, a time when one million people died from starvation and disease and two million more fled their homeland.

Black Potatoes is the compelling story of men, women, and children who defied landlords and searched empty fields for scraps of harvested vegetables and edible weeds to eat, who walked several miles each day to hard-labor jobs for meager wages and to reach soup kitchens, and who committed crimes just to be sent to jail, where they were assured of a meal. It's the story of children and adults who suffered from starvation, disease, and the loss of family and friends, as well as those who died. Illustrated with black and white engravings, it's also the story of the heroes among the Irish people and how they held on to hope.

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