I was delighted to see many of my favorite books recognized in the Youth Media Awards at the American Library Association’s Midwinter Conference! Here are three worthy 2017 titles I adored that did not receive honors.
If you enjoyed Piecing Me Together by Renée Watson and The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas as much as I did, don’t miss out on You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins. It follows three generations of a Bengali family in Ghana, England, the U.S., and India. Along the way, each character navigates different cultural contexts, demonstrating how fluid and relative markers of status are. The integration of cultures, races, generational sensibilities, and more is handled with warmth, heart, and passion. (The audiobook version is absolutely brilliant.)
The Batchelder Award for a book in translation went to an imaginative mystery-adventure, The Murderer’s Ape by Jakob Wegelius, translated by Peter Graves. Wonderful Feels Like This by Sara Lövestam, translated by Laura A. Wideburg, is also from Sweden. It’s the moving, unforgettable tale of an intergenerational friendship between an elderly jazz musician, now living in a retirement home, and a half-Cuban Swedish teen, bullied at school, who finds solace in her music.
For too long, many books erased entire worlds of experience by addressing diversity only in terms of whites versus nonwhites, often giving characters of color little to distinguish them beyond their race. Like Stonewall Award winner Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert, It's Not Like It's a Secret by Misa Sugiura is complex, nuanced, and highlights the relationships between various ethnic communities. It’s a charming love story between two California girls: one Japanese-American Midwestern transplant and one Mexican-American, both grappling with their roles in their families and society at large. Laura Simeon is the Young Adult Editor.