On Wednesday morning, the National Book Foundation narrowed its longlist down to five finalists for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature: Kathi Appelt’s The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp, Cynthia Kadohata’s The Thing About Luck, Tom McNeal’s Far Far Away, Meg Rosoff’s Picture Me Gone, and Gene Luen Yang’s Boxers and Saints. The winners will be announced at the NBA’s annual awards dinner on November 20. Read on for PW’s starred reviews of the books from all five finalists.
The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp by Kathi Appelt (S&S/Atheneum).
“Told from the perspectives of animals and humans, Appelt’s (The Underneath) rollicking tall tale exposes the trouble brewing in Sugar Man swamp.” Read the full review.
The Thing About Luck by Cynthia Kadohata (S&S/Atheneum).
“Sharp characterizations and descriptive details about modern farming invigorate Newbery Medalist Kadohata’s (Kira-Kira) funny and warm story about the Japanese-American daughter of migrant workers.” Read the full review.
Far Far Away by Tom McNeal (Knopf).
“The ghost of Jacob Grimm—one of the famous fairy-tale collecting brothers—communicates with a lonely boy who is a clairaudient (someone who hears spirits) in this rich and often bone-chilling story.” Read the full review.
Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff (Putnam).
“Twelve-year-old Mila has remarkable powers of observation, but even more impressive is her insight into people’s minds.” Read the full review.
Boxers and Saints by Gene Luen Yang (First Second).
“With a superbly executed “diptych” of graphic novels, Yang (American Born Chinese) employs parallel storylines to represent two opposing Chinese experiences during the Boxer Rebellion at the turn of the 20th century.” Read the full reviews here and here.