“In the Room”

Kirkus PrizeFirst blog post after a LONG hiatus! I’ve found that I enjoy tweeting, so please follow me on Twitter @LindaSuePark. But some thoughts just won’t fit into 140 characters, no matter how strenuously edited. Ergo…

I’m currently serving on the panel of the inaugural Kirkus Prize, Young Readers literature category. Along with John Peters and Dr. Claudette S. McLinn, we received more than 440 books, from which we had to choose six finalists.

The books we were sent had all been given a star by Kirkus Reviews, so there wasn’t a stinker in the whole pile. I’m proud of the six titles we settled on (after countless hours of individual contemplation and several marathon conference sessions). You can read about them here: www.kirkusreviews.com/prize/2014/finalists/young-readers And the winner will be announced on October 23: We have an exciting task ahead of us.

What I want to do in this post is to acknowledge how difficult it was to come up with that list of six titles. The books that were ‘in the room’ during our discussions deserve to be highlighted. These books were removed only after much kicking and screaming by one or more of the panelists. If you took the finalists along with the books below as your ‘to-read’ list, I think you’ll be set for a mighty fine stretch of reading.

Here they are, the laudable but cigar-less, alphabetical by author:

Picture books:

  VANILLA ICE CREAM, by Bob Graham

  EYE TO EYE, by Steve Jenkins

  THOMAS JEFFERSON, by Maira Kalman

  THE PILOT AND THE LITTLE PRICE, by Peter Sis

  THE RULES OF SUMMER, by Shaun Tan

 

Middle grade:

  THE MADMAN OF PINEY WOODS, by Christopher Paul Curtis

  THE GLASS SENTENCE, by S.E. Grove

  NINE OPEN ARMS, by Benny Lindelauf

  RAIN REIGN, by Ann M. Martin

  THE GREENGLASS HOUSE, by Kate Milford

  THE BOUNDLESS, by Kenneth Oppel

  WEST OF THE MOON, by Margi Preus

 BROWN GIRL DREAMING, by Jacqueline Woodson

 

YA:

  SORROW’S KNOT, by Erin Bow

  HEAP HOUSE, by Edward Carey

  THE FAMILY ROMANOV, by Candace Fleming

  EGG & SPOON, by Gregory Maguire

   FRIDA & DIEGO, by Catherine Reef

  BELZHAR, by Meg Wolitzer

 

 Finally, a few more titles that I personally adored:

 Picture books:

  HERE COMES THE EASTER CAT! by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Claudia Rueda

  AT THE SAME MOMENT AROUND THE WORLD, by Clotilde Perrin

  THE ANIMAL BOOK, by Steve Jenkins

  EXTRAORDINARY JANE, by Hanna E. Harrison

  BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, by H. Chuku Lee, illustrated by Pat Cummings

 

Middle grade:

  OUTSIDE IN, by Sarah Ellis

  ANGEL ISLAND, by Russell Freedman

   FIVE, SIX, SEVEN, NATE! by Tim Federle

   SPARKERS, by Eleanor Glewwe

 

YA:

  THE LAST FOREVER, by Deb Caletti

  AS RED AS BLOOD, by Salla Simukka

  GIRL DEFECTIVE, by Simmone Howell

 

Applause all around!

What a privilege it has been to serve on this committee. John and Claudette have been a true pleasure to work with. And Kirkus editor Vicky Smith has kept things humming along beautifully, responding thoughtfully and helpfully to our every request.

Wish us luck choosing the winner, and watch for the announcement on October 23!

Leave a Reply