Nonfiction and Morris Award shortlists
Janis Joplin: Rise Up Singing
By Ann Angel, published by Amulet/Abrams
Janis Joplin, a true “fish out of water” in Port Arthur, TX, follows her own path to become an icon of American music in her short, tragic life.
They Called Themselves the KKK: The Birth of an American Terrorist Group
By Susan Campbell Bartoletti, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Bartoletti provides readers with an in-depth look at the formation of the KKK and its subsequent evolution into a violent organization. With primary source material, she details the horrific history of the Ku Klux Klan and the people who fell victim to its reign of terror.
Spies of Mississippi: The True Story of the Spy Network that Tried to Destroy the Civil Rights Movement
By Rick Bowers, published by National Geographic Society
In 1958, the state of Mississippi began an undercover operation, The Sovereignty Commission, to spy on and potentially squelch the Civil Rights movement. Bowers’ expose of this unknown organization reveals the extent to which some were willing to go to see segregation remain the law of the state.
The Dark Game: True Spy Stories
By Paul Janeczko, published by Candlewick Press
This compilation of different spies carries readers from the Revolutionary War through the infamous Cold War era. Delve into stories about the Choctaw Code Talkers of WWI, Soviet moles, Mata Hari and more as you uncover just how they changed the course of history.
Every Bone Tells a Story: Hominin Discoveries, Deductions, and Debates
By Jill Rubalcaba and Peter Robertshaw, published by Charlesbridge
Through fieldwork, laboratory analysis, and scientific debate, the bones of Turkana Boy, Lapede Child, Kennewick Man and Iceman are used to tell the fascinating stories of four member of the human family tree. Maps, photographs, and news headlines add to our understanding of archeology’s cutting edge science.
By Eishes Chayil, published by Walker Publishing Company, a division of Bloomsbury Publishing, Inc.
Growing up in her insular Chassidic Jewish community has always made Gittel feel secure and given her a sense of belonging. But when her best friend, Devory, hangs herself after being sexually abused, her faith in the group is challenged and only gradually does she find ways to express her desire for the community to deal with the issue.
Guardian of the Dead
By Karen Healey, published by Little, Brown and Company/Hachette Book Group
Seventeen-year-old Ellie Spencer is just trying to make it through her last year of high school, but a chance interaction with the school’s weirdo, Mark Nolan, puts her on a very different path filled with Maori legends come to life.
Hold Me Closer, Necromancer
By Lish McBride, published by Henry Holt
Sam thinks his life working in a fast food restaurant is awful. But when he’s confronted by a powerful necromancer, he learns that everything he thought was true about his life — isn’t.
Crossing the Tracks
By Barbara Stuber, published by Margaret McElderry Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division
In the 1920s, Iris’ emotionally distant father sends her to rural Missouri to act as a companion to an elderly woman while he heads to Kansas City with his fiance. Iris’ mother died when she was five, and it takes her some time to learn to care for Mrs. Nesbitt and see her own future with optimism.
The Freak Observer
By Blythe Woolston, published by Carolrhoda Lab, an imprint of Carolrhoda Books, a division of Lerner Publishing Group
Loa, a strong, intelligent, hardworking sixteen-year-old experiences a year of loss: the death of her sister who was born with a genetic disorder, her lifelong friend who was killed in an accident, her best friend who has gone to Europe, and even her dog. While trying to take care of her family and make it through school she ponders the laws of physics and tries to understand what can never make sense.
So, ummm, at this point, I’ve been so surprised by the above two shortlists, I’m not sure I should make any Printz predictions.
I’ve only read two of the Nonfiction finalists, Spies of Mississippi (I rather agree with Colleen’s take) and They Called Themselves the KKK (an amazing, though intense, read. I had to put it down several times before I was able to finish it because it is emotionally overwhelming.).
As for the Morris finalists, I’ve read three of them so far. The Freak Observer was, I think, a little too edgy for my taste, and I got a bit confused by the timeline—or the chronology of the narrative, at any rate—in the ARC I read. Although I did really appreciate the fact that it’s set in Montana (? I think?) and Loa’s family is poor. I started off really enjoying Guardian of the Dead, but struggled with the last third of it when I thought it became overly complicated and *spoiler?* The Sweet Far Thing-ish *end possible spoiler*. But you really should read Doret’s interview with Karen Healey from earlier this year. Crossing the Tracks is, in my opinion, the best of the three finalists I’ve read. Still—and this has nothing to do with the book in terms of the Morris Award—I have a hard time working up a lot of enthusiasm over it because Crossing the Tracks is SO similar to Nancy Crocker’s Billie Standish Was Here (historical Southern setting about a girl with neglectful, disinterested parent[s] and her transformational friendship with an elderly woman) that I can’t help but compare the two and think Billie Standish did it better.