And the finalists are...
Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman
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A glimpse into mental illness revealed through three different perspectives.
"Neal Shusterman’s novel is a swirling, surrealistic look inside the mind of one teen, Caden, who is struggling with mental illness. Chapters narrated by Caden alternate between a bizarre shipboard setting and the world we know, all viewed through the teen’s sometimes impenetrable perspective. It’s a very personal story for Shusterman, whose son Brendan created the book’s artwork while in the depths of his own battles with mental illness."
The Horn Book March 2015
Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War by Steve Sheinkin
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Sheinkin's historical account is written specifically for young readers.
"From 1964 to 1971, Daniel Ellsberg went from nerdy analyst for the Rand Corp. to “the most dangerous man in America.” ... He helped to amass the Pentagon Papers—“seven thousand pages of documentary evidence of lying, by four presidents and their administrations over twenty-three years”—and then leaked them to the press, ...Sheinkin ably juggles the complex war narrative with Ellsberg’s personal story, pointing out the deceits of presidents and tracing Ellsberg’s rise to action."
Kirkus review September 2015
Bone Gap by Laura Ruby
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Ruby blends a realistic coming-of-age portrayal with magical realism.
"The cornfields around Bone Gap hide passageways between worlds, and the novel moves through them as it untangles its parallel mysteries: what happened to Roza, and why Finn couldn’t describe her abductor’s face. It’s a novel about actual changes in worldview, and all its science and myth and realism and magic are marshaled, finally, to answer crucial questions about empathy and difference, and the ways we see the people we love."
New York Times review May 2015
Nimona by Noel Stevenson
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Stevenson originally created this mashup of medieval life and modern technology as a web comic.
"Magic and science uneasily share the same space in 'Nimona.' Dark sorcery and magical creatures exist beside telecommunication view screens and rocket launchers. A scientist creates a green- glowing energy device, declaring that it is “the first step to reconciling science and magic.” The tension is represented in the contrast between Ballister and Nimona, one a man of (evil) science, the other a purely magical being."
New York Times review July 2015
The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin
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Benjamin's realistic fiction is infused with a fascinating dose of marine science.
"The dedication of “The Thing About Jellyfish” reads, “For curious kids everywhere.” It could also read, “For all those kids who need a gentle nudge to look closer at nature and science.” Or perhaps, “For grieving kids who are struggling to come to terms with their losses, and seeking a path to peace and conciliation.” There are, in other words, a lot of children who might not only benefit from this book but also find themselves deeply moved by it."
New YorkTimes review October 2015
Very Pleasant Surprise! Three titles (Symphony for the City of the Dead, This Side of Wild, and Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War) are nonfiction. X: A Novel is historical fiction, based on the life of Malcolm X.
There has recently been a flowering of innovative nonfiction picture books, The prominance of nonfiction on this prestigous award's longlist offers evidence to the recognition of quality nonfiction. It is exciting to see excellent nonfiction for young readers getting some serious recognition.
Outstanding reading selections for young people can be found in a variety of genre and formats, as evidenced by this year's longlist. A recent Someday My Printz Will Come has some interesting observations about the composition of the list.
I have read seven of the nonimated titles (three are waiting on my TBR stack). From my viewpoint, there is a lot of brilliant writing to be had this year. Congratulations to these authors.
- Becky Albertalli, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins Children's Books)
- M.T. Anderson, Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad (Candlewick Press)
- Ali Benjamin, The Thing About Jellyfish (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)
- Rae Carson, Walk on Earth a Stranger (Greenwillow/HarperCollins Children's Books)
- Gary Paulsen, This Side of Wild: Mutts, Mares, and Laughing Dinosaurs (Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing)
- Laura Ruby, Bone Gap (Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins Children's Books)
- Ilyasah Shabazz, with Kekla Magoon, X: A Novel (Candlewick Press)
- Steve Sheinkin, Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War (Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan Children's Publishing Group)
- Neal Shusterman, Challenger Deep (HarperCollins Children's Books)
- Noelle Stevenson, Nimona (HarperTeen/HarperCollins Children's Books)