On Wednesday morning, the National Book Foundation narrowed its longlist down to five finalists for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature: Ali Benjamin for The Thing About Jellyfish; Laura Ruby, for Bone Gap; Steve Sheinkin for Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War; Neal Shusterman, for Challenger Deep; and Noelle Stevenson for Nimona. Three of the five finalists were published by HarperCollins, one by Little, Brown, and one by Roaring Brook Press. The winners will be announced at the NBA’s annual awards dinner on November 18. Read on for PW’s starred reviews of the books by all five finalists.
The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin (Little, Brown).
“In her first solo outing, Benjamin (coauthor of Positive with Paige Rawls) composes a moving portrayal of loss and healing.”
Bone Gap by Laura Ruby (HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray).
“In a story that blends realism with dreamlike imagery and echoes of myth, Finn is the only witness to the kidnapping of 19-year-old Roza.”
Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War by Steve Sheinkin (Roaring Brook).
“Sheinkin (The Port Chicago 50) has done again what he does so well: condense mountains of research into a concise, accessible, and riveting account of history.”
Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman (HarperTeen).
“With lyricism and potent insight, Shusterman (Unwind) traces the schizophrenic descent and return of Caden Bosch, an intelligent 15-year-old and a gifted artist.”
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson (HarperTeen).
“In Stevenson’s funny, smart, and provocative graphic novel (which originated as a webcomic), a gentlemanly clash between rivals is disrupted when an energetic shapeshifter raises the stakes with her predilection for violence.”