Award Winning Books for Tweens and Teens

AdLit.org has posted some of the 2011 teen and tween award winners. Check them out…

2011 Newberry Medal Winner: “Moon over Manifest” by Clare Vanderpool

After a life of riding the rails with her father, 12-year-old Abilene can’t understand why he has sent her away to stay with Pastor Shady Howard in Manifest, Missouri, a town he left years earlier; but over the summer she pieces together his story. In 1936, Manifest is a town worn down by sadness, drought, and the Depression, but it is more welcoming to newcomers than it was in 1918, when it was a conglomeration of coal-mining immigrants who were kept apart by habit, company practice, and prejudice. Abilene quickly finds friends and uncovers a local mystery. Their summerlong “spy hunt” reveals deep-seated secrets and helps restore residents’ faith in the bright future once promised on the town’s sign. Abilene’s first-person narrative is intertwined with newspaper columns from 1917 to 1918 and stories told by a diviner, Miss Sadie, while letters home from a soldier fighting in WWI add yet another narrative layer. Vanderpool weaves humor and sorrow into a complex tale involving murders, orphans, bootlegging, and a mother in hiding.

2011 Printz Award Winner: “Ship Breaker” by Paolo Bacigalupi

In a world in which society has stratified, fossil fuels have been consumed, and the seas have risen and drowned coastal cities, Nailer, 17, scavenges beached tankers for scrap metals on the Gulf Coast. Every day, he tries to “make quota” and avoid his violent, drug-addicted father. After he discovers a modern clipper ship washed up on the beach, Nailer thinks his fortune is made, but then he discovers a survivor trapped in the wreckage—the “swank” daughter of a shipping-company owner. Should he slit the girl’s throat and sell her for parts or take a chance and help her?

2011 Odyssey Award Winner: “The True Meaning of Smekday” by Adam Rex

It all starts with a school essay. When twelve-year-old Gratuity (“Tip”) Tucci is assigned to write five pages on “The True Meaning of Smekday” for the National Time Capsule contest, she’s not sure where to begin. When her mom started telling everyone about the messages aliens were sending through a mole on the back of her neck? Maybe on Christmas Eve, when huge, bizarre spaceships descended on the Earth and the aliens – called Boov – abducted her mother? Or when the Boov declared Earth a colony, renamed it “Smekland” (in honor of glorious Captain Smek), and forced all Americans to relocate to Florida via rocketpod? In any case, Gratuity’s story is much, much bigger than the assignment. It involves her unlikely friendship with a renegade Boov mechanic named J.Lo.; a futile journey south to find Gratuity’s mother at the Happy Mouse Kingdom; a cross-country road trip in a hovercar called Slushious; and an outrageous plan to save the Earth from yet another alien invasion.

2011 Sibert Award Winner: “Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World’s Strangest Parrot” by Sy Montgomery

This time, the intrepid duo heads to a remote island off the southern tip of New Zealand, where they join a local government-sponsored research team that is working to save the Kakapo parrot from extinction. Weighing in at nearly nine pounds, these beautiful, honey-scented, once-ubiquitous creatures, named “the most wonderful of all living birds” by a nineteenth-century naturalist, have become a symbol of human civilization’s devastating effects on indigenous life, and the New Zealand government is directing significant resources to try to ensure the species’ survival.

2011 William C. Morris Award: “The Freak Observer” by Blythe Woolston

Sixteen-year-old Loa’s story begins in a tangle of turmoil. She witnesses a truck strike and kill her friend Esther, an event that too vividly brings back memories of the death of Loa’s sister, who suffered complications from Rett syndrome. Loa’s parents are angered and haunted by the cruel turns of their lives, so Loa focuses upon her desultory job and her way-out-there astrophysics homework. Woolston’s talent for dialogue and her unique approach to scenes make what sounds standard about this story feel fresh and vital. What is most surprising and rewarding, though, is how the novel deprioritizes these dramatic elements to follow the flow of Loa’s life—it’s difficult to move on from trauma, but sometimes you just can’t help it. A nebulous sexual relationship with a boy who posts pictures of himself and Loa on the Internet provides much of the push-and-pull, but it’s a new friendship with an odd boy at her new school that offers the best chance of relief.

…and more! For a more extensive list, please go to http://www.adlit.org and click on the Books & Authors link.

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