Underrepresented Genres: Nonfiction worth nominating?
When looking at our nomination list so far, five of the 53 nominated titles are nonfiction. (FALLOUT, GENIUS UNDER THE TABLE, GONE TO THE WOODS, UNSPEAKABLE, AND RUNAWAY).
Steven already highlighted potential contenders NICKY AND VERA and 13 WAYS to EAT A FLY. Here are a few more that are definitely on my “maybe nominate list.”
(Steven are we allowed to nominate more titles because we’re in charge? Sadly that is NOT how it works on the actual committee).
A LIFE ELECTRIC: THE STORY OF NIKOLA TESLA by Azadeh Westergaard. A picture book biography that details Tesla’s brilliant, yet rocky life in poetic tone and detail. I especially appreciated the dialogue and thought processes:
His mother said, “Stop playing with the cat, he might start a fire.”
His mother said, “This is nothing but electricity, the same thing you would see on the trees in a storm.”
He wondered, “Is Nature a gigantic cat? If so, who strokes its back?”
LEGACY: WOMEN POETS OF THE HARLEM RENAISSANCE by Nikki Grimes
OK this is a tough one, a historical poetry book by Nikki Grimes featuring women poets of the Harlem Renaissance. She uses “Golden Shovel” poetry form, where you take a short poem, or a line from a poem and create a new poem using lines from the original. I admire the unique format, creative words, and a thought-provoking reflection on gender, race, politics, and everyday life.
Does Grimes use enough original content for this to qualify as a Newbery eligible “original work.” I vote yes! What about you?
A SHOT IN THE ARM by Don Brown
I mean really in a pandemic year it seems only natural to have a book win that discusses vaccines. The readable and approachable language and format appeals to young readers. The overall presentation of the history of vaccines and how we made it to where we are today is what truly makes this title stand out.
Also two side titles to mention are THE PEOPLE REMEMBER by Ibi Zoboi which is a look at Kwanzaa that has stayed on my mind months after reading and ACROSS THE TRACKS: Remembering Greenwood, Black Wall Street and, the Tulsa Race Massacre by Alverne Ball (art by Stacey Robinson) which Eric brought up in a comment as a counter book to UNSPEAKABLE. I just read ACROSS THE TRACKS over the weekend and thought the clear, strong writing style in graphic novel format really made it shine.
Are there any other nonfiction titles you’ve been thinking about nominating? Let us know in the comments.
Filed under: Book Discussion
About Emily Mroczek-Bayci
Emily Mroczek (Bayci) is a freelance children’s librarian in the Chicago suburbs. She served on the 2019 Newbery committee. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SLJ Blog Network