Tag Archives: literary prizes

National Book Awards Young People’s Literature Winner

Click to go to HarperCollins book page


Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai
Recommended for Grades 4 through 8

Established in 1950, the National Book Award is an American literary prize given to writers by writers and administered by the National Book Foundation, a nonprofit organization.

This book has two things going for it before the content is even considered. Despite our best efforts, kids do still judge a book by its cover and I  love this one by Zdeno Basic and Manuel Sumberac. Secondly, the narrative poetry format has gone over very well with many readers in my library in books like Song of the Sparrow and novels by Sonja Sones and  Ellen Hopkins. Although my students prefer realistic fiction set in contemporary North America, reviews like the one quoted below have convinced me to order this book, read it and promote it in my library.

Inside Out and Back Again is an outstanding read.  There were no longeurs, no places where Hà’s narration felt affected, no stilted dialogue.  The prose/poetry felt natural, as if it were the means of expression for a confused, scared immigrant girl trying to make sense of the new culture around her and her place within it. ~ Vaguely Borgesian

The reviews speak of an authenticity that is explained in the author’s biography. Thanhha Lai has drawn from her own experience to write this novel.

On April 30, 1975, North Vietnam (the Communist side) won the war, and my family and I (living in Saigon, South Vietnam) scrambled onto a navy ship and ended up in Montgomery, Alabama.  Why?  Believe me, we didn’t know about Alabama to choose it.  But to enter the United States, refugees had to have a sponsor. The man who had the nerve to take on all of us (10 in all) lived in Alabama.

As is so often the case as selection by reviews gets pushed to the back of the priority list behind the moment-to-moment tasks of running the library, I find myself embarrassingly behind the 8-ball on this one. There is an abundance of positive reviews for this book which you will find easily with a search. Here are a few more:

Outside of a Dog
School Library Journal
Reader reviews on Goodreads

I also found a couple of book trailers that I’ve found can be very effective with promoting books to our oh-so visual students. I’ve embedded one below and the other can be found here.

Look inside the book at Amazon

I’m curious: Do you already have this book and if so, what do your students think of it? If not, will you buy this book based on these reviews? Why or why not?

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Filed under Books, Authors & Illustrators, Poetry

Canadians honoured at Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards

Click for Quill & Quire review

Among the Canadian winners are Craig Russell, who was awarded the gold medal in the YA sci-fi/fantasy category for his novel Black Bottle Man: A Fable (Great Plains Teen Fiction); Roslyn Schwartz, who won the silver medal in the preschool picture book category for The Vole Brothers (Owlkids Books); and Rae Bridgman, who tied for the bronze medal in the preteen fantasy division for Kingdom of Trolls (Sybertooth). ~ Quillblog

Click for Goodreads listing & reader review

Click for CM Magazine review


Filed under Books, Authors & Illustrators

Giller Prize Winner Announced

Half-Blood Blues by Esi Edugyan

From the author’s website:

Berlin, 1939. A young, brilliant trumpet-player, Hieronymus, is arrested in a Paris cafe. The star musician was never heard from again. He was twenty years old. He was a German citizen. And he was black.

Fifty years later, Sidney Griffiths, the only witness that day, still refuses to speak of what he saw. When Chip Jones, his friend and fellow band member, comes to visit, recounting the discovery of a strange letter, Sid begins a slow journey towards redemption.

From the smoky bars of pre-war Berlin to the salons of Paris, Sid leads the reader through a fascinating, little-known world, and into the heart of his own guilty conscience.

Half-Blood Blues is an electric, heart-breaking story about music, race, love and loyalty, and the sacrifices we ask of ourselves, and demand of others, in the name of art.

I  need to read more adult fiction.

Scotiabank Giller Prize

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