2018 Caudill Award Nominees

This was my first year as a member of the RCYRBA evaluators committee. Here are the books we chose, narrowed down from hundreds of nominations put forward by students, librarians, and teachers throughout Illinois:

  1. Roller Girl
  2. Full Cicada Moon
  3. Goodbye Stranger
  4. Last in a Long Line of Rebels
  5. Listen, Slowly
  6. Awkward
  7. Drowned City
  8. I Will Always Write Back
  9. Hour of the Bees
  10. A Night Divided
  11. I Am Princess X
  12. The Boy on the Wooden Box
  13. The Seventh Most Important Thing
  14. Beneath
  15. The Bitter Side of Sweet
  16. Fuzzy Mud
  17. Book Scavenger
  18. House Arrest
  19. All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook
  20. Orbiting Jupiter

I’ve listed them roughly in order of my own personal preference – Roller Girl and Full Cicada Moon were my absolute favorites!

It’s a genuine thrill to be a part of this committee, and it’s a responsibility I take very seriously. 4th-8th graders all over the state of Illinois will read these books, and I tried really really hard to influence the rest of the committee to give those kids a list worthy of their time and effort.

The lack of diversity on the list is my biggest disappointment, and by that I mean diversity of all kinds: not just the race of the main character, but their religion and socioeconomic status. The race and religion of the author. The length of the book, and the difficulty of it. The genre. The format. The style. For the most part, these books are racially white realistic fiction, and that bums me out – but this is a list that depends 100% on nominations, so I’m doing what I can to push for a more diverse nomination pool for next year’s list. If you are a student, teacher, school librarian, or public librarian working or living in the state of Illinois, let me know! I can help you nominate some books!

Booktalk This: Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

SteelheartAn edge-of-your seat thrill ride, this novel is as close as you can get to a summer blockbuster between the covers of a book.

There isn’t much subtlety – ok fine. There isn’t any subtlety in this book. But we’re talking about Junior High book talks in this series, so are you looking for subtlety? Gods, I hope not. David, our hero, is ‘just an ordinary dude.’ He’s made it through his teen years in dystopian Chicago as an orphan; his father was murdered by the villain Steelheart when David was a child. This is a universe very similar to that of X-Men, where some individuals, seemingly at random, have unique superpowers (or a combination of them). Instead of mutants, Sanderson gives us Epics. While mutants offer a powerful parallel to the real world struggles of marginalized groups like homosexuals and persons with disabilities, Sanderson’s Epics are a lot more simple: all Epics are Evil. Period. David joins up with a rebel group of Epic-hunters to dole out vigilante justice against the monster that killed his father (and thousands of others).

Highlights for booktalks:

  • This is a readalike for comics like X-Men, the Avengers, and Batman. If you love any of those comics or their big-screen adaptations, this book will feel very familiar to you.
  • Non-stop action with a lot of thrills. This is definitely not for the faint of heart!

Recommended for grades 7 and up.

 

Booktalk This: Audacity by Melanie Crowder

Audacity_front-cover1

Audacity by Melanie Crowder

An outstanding historical fiction novel in verse based on the early life of Clara Lemlich Shevelson, an activist most famous for organizing the Uprising of the 20,000 which led to widespread reform in the garment industry.

Audacity is in free verse, with a strong and often thrilling narrative thread. As a result, the poems feel incisive, exciting, and purposeful. You fly through them, anxious to see what happens next, and get snared once in a while by the beauty of the words. Crowder punctuates the narrative poems with occasional lyric ones where Clara reflects on her life, her situation, and her surroundings.

Teenage Clara is a recent immigrant to the USA and cherishes the ambition to become a doctor. Her parents force her to find work instead, so Clara ends up in the hellish world of New York’s garment industry circa 1905. The work is difficult, dangerous, and low-paying; the factory bosses are cruel and abusive. When Clara protests their behavior, she’s fired on the spot. When she goes to English classes after work, her parents are furious, claiming that girls don’t need education. When she implores other factory girls to join with her and protest their hellish work environment, they ignore her.

Clara defies them all, over and over again, until she’s achieved the impossible: a massive walkout of 20,000 workers that leads to widespread reform of the industry.

Highlights for booktalks:

  • Clara was a real person: you can read more about her in Brave Girl by Michelle Markel and Melissa Sweet
  • Have you ever felt like the school day stretched out and out until it lasted forever? In the factories where Clara had to work, bosses would change the time on the clocks so that the workers had to stay late.
  • Free verse poetry shows Clara’s internal monologue and the way she’s thinking, so it’s very easy to identify with her even though your lives are very different. Also, since the whole book is in poems, you can finish it very quickly!

Recommended for grades 7 and up.

#alayma – the Oscars of Books (now with more gifs!)

The list of winners is, in every way, DIVERSE. Formats; creator backgrounds; character abilities; stylistic choices.

bill nye

We NEED diverse books, and this is IMPORTANT EVIDENCE that #wndb is INSPIRING REAL CHANGE.
it's happening

Crowd reactions:

“The committee has chosen six Caldecott Honors”

seinfeld dance

“The committee has chosen two Newbery Honors”

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“Brown Girl Dreaming wins a Newbery Honor – you heard me. Honor.”

moss

“And the Newbery Award goes to: The Crossover, a *different* novel in verse!”

wow awwwwwesome

I am super-duper jazzed about the Caldecott winner, The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat. A gorgeous book that kids will love for years to come!

Bravo to all committees on a job VERY WELL DONE!

beekle