Books

09.16.13

Exclusive: The National Book Awards Longlist for Young People’s Literature

The National Book Awards longlist for young people’s literature features a number of previous finalists and Newbery Medal winners and honorees, comprising works that deal with magic, ecology, sexuality, ritual sacrifice, and even Chinese history.

The National Book Foundation announced Monday the National Book Awards 2013 longlist for young people’s literature, which includes a number of Newbery Medal winners and honorees. The 10 nominees range from books filled with wizards and dark magic to works that deal with changing societal views on teenage love.

The National Book Awards is running longlists for its four categories for the first time in the prize’s history, and they are being announced exclusively on The Daily Beast this week. The categories consist of 10 books each from the genres of young people’s literature, poetry, nonfiction, and fiction selected by a panel of expert judges. The longlist for poetry will be released on Tuesday, September 17, at 9 a.m., for nonfiction on September 18, and, finally, for fiction on September 19.

Here is the longlist for young adult fiction. From a Newbery honoree and a previous National Book Award finalist to a pair of ambitious graphic novels, read about the nominated books and the authors behind the works.

The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp 
by Kathi Appelt

Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster

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Bingo and J’miah are raccoon brothers who have been recruited as two of the officials scouts for the Sugar Man Swamp, their beloved habitat. But when they find out that famed alligator wrestler Jaeger Stitch wants to turn the swamp into a theme park, Bingo and J’miah, with the help of 12-year-old Chap Brayburn, set out on a mission to save Sugar Man Swamp. Appelt was a 2008 National Book Award finalist and a 2009 Newbery honoree for The Underneath, about a hound who befriends a calico cat who’s trying to raise her family underneath a porch in the backwaters of the bayou.

Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures
by Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by K.G. Campbell

Candlewick Press

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Ulysses the squirrel gets sucked up by a vacuum cleaner, but when self-described cynic Flora Belle Buckman rushes to empty the vacuum bag to save him, she discovers that her new little friend now has superpowers. DiCamillo’s beloved Because of Winn-Dixie was a 2001 Newbery honoree that was turned into a film, and three years later she won the Newbery Medal for The Tale of Despereaux, which was also made into a movie.

A Tangle of Knots
by Lisa Graff

Philomel, a division of Penguin Group USA

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In a magical world where everyone has a talent, Cady, an 11-year-old orphan who’s also a marvelous baker of cakes, goes on a quest to find her identity, and at the end of some chapters there are delicious cake recipes (Marigold’s Lime Pound Cake).

The Summer Prince
by Alaya Dawn Johnson

Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic

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In a post-nuclear-apocalyptic world set inside a city that’s a glass pyramid on a Brazilian bay, ageless women have inherited a dystopian future that’s run on nanotechnology, and they elect a man, a Summer King, every five years—to be sacrificed. But when 18-year-old artist June Costa’s best friend, a teenage boy named Gil, falls in love with the new Summer King, the two of them start a rebellion.

The Thing About Luck
by Cynthia Kadohata

Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster

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“Kouun” means “good luck” in Japanese, but 12-year-old Summer Miyamoto, a second-generation Japanese-American, has had none of it for a year. When her parents have to go back to Japan for an emergency, Summer and her brother have to follow their grandparents through several states on a wheat harvest. Kadohata won the Newbery Medal in 2005 for Kira-Kira.

Two Boys Kissing
by David Levithan

Knopf Books for Young Readers/Random House

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Featuring a cover that would have been unthinkable for a YA novel only years ago, Levithan’s Two Boys Kissing arrives just months after the key section of the Defense of Marriage Act was ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. The novel, based on true events, features the story of Harry and Craig, two gay 17-year-olds who protest a recent hate crime by trying to kiss for 32 hours, 12 minutes, and 10 seconds in order to set a new world record. In a tribute to an older generation of gay men who were devastated by AIDS and homophobia, the story is narrated by these “shadow uncles.” Ever since Boy Meets Boy, his first novel 10 years ago, Levithan has consistently written young-adult fictions that feature strong gay characters.

Far Far Away
by Tom McNeal

Knopf Books for Young Readers/Random House

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The ghost of Jacob Grimm, one half of The Brothers Grimm, lives on, and speaks to Jeremy Johnson Johnson, the caretaker of his ill, depressed father. Jacob helps Jeremy become an expert in fairy tales, garnering him good grades and the heart of the pretty Ginger Boultinghouse, but dark, twisted events unfold in this chilly contemporary fairy tale.

Picture Me Gone
by Meg Rosoff

Putnam Juvenile, a division of Penguin Group USA

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Mila, a 12-year-old who has exceptional powers of observation, including into people’s minds, travels to upstate New York from London when her father takes her to track down an old friend who has suddenly disappeared. In this coming-of-age story, Mila pieces together what happened to her father’s friend by reading the clues that lead to disturbing facts about infidelity, the death of a child, and secrets that her father might be hiding from her.

The Real Boy
by Anne Ursu, illustrated by Erin McGuire

Walden Pond Press/an Imprint HarperCollinsPublishers

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Oscar spends his days in a small room in the cellar, grinding herbs for his master, a powerful magician. He’s content to live in seclusion, until a dark power is causing children in the city of Asteri to fall ill. Oscar and his friend Callie must find out what’s going on.

Boxers and Saints
by Gene Luen Yang

First Second/an imprint of Roaring Brook Press/Holtzbrinck

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An ambitious two-volume graphic novel, Boxers and Saints tells two sides of the story of the Boxer Rebellion, when Chinese forces tried to eradicate foreign powers and Christian missionaries from China in 1899. Boxers tell the tale of Little Bao, a peasant boy who learns kung fu and joins the Boxer Rebellion. Saints portrays the conflict from the viewpoint of Vibiana, a girl taken in by Christian missionaries. In 2006, Yang’s American Born Chinese became the first graphic novel to be a finalist for the National Book Award in young people’s literature.

The National Book Award finalists will be announced on October 16, and the winners will be named at a gala dinner and ceremony in New York on November 20. Visit The Daily Beast Tuesday for the poetry longlist.