Heavy Medal Mock Newbery Finalist: FALLOUT by Steve Sheinkin
Introduction by Heavy Medal Award Committee member Tamara DePasquale
Masterful storyteller Steve Sheinkin returns with a follow-up to his award-winning title, Bomb: the Race to Build – and Steal – the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon with another thoroughly researched, well-organized, and highly engaging account of the mounting tensions and conflicts between the United States and the Soviet Union following WWII.
From the very first page, Sheinkin demonstrates his keen ability to engage and lure his reader into the unfolding events of the Cold War with a spy story that rivals most Hollywood productions. Thirteen year old paperboy Jimmy Bozart receives a gratuity that includes one quarter and five nickels – one of which is a hollow coin concealing top secret codes and information. This single event launches the reader into one of the most intense periods in US history.
The robust cast of characters, also referred to as “The Players,” are both notable historical figures as well as little known citizens and military personnel whose words and actions lend clarity and depth to the complex game of one-upmanship. Black and white photographs help put faces to names, but it is again Sheinkin’s engrossing narrative and well-placed anecdotes that keep these individuals distinct and “alive” throughout.
Political, historical, and social events also come to life through vivid details and storytelling to provide the reader with a coherent setting and timeline of events to support the well-drawn characters. Details of bunker drills and fallout shelters are cleverly woven among these details to once again give the reader a relatable and upfront seat to the rising intensity between two super powers at the brink of nuclear war.
What makes this title an important and distinguished addition to nonfiction for young people rests in Sheinkin’s well-crafted telling. Characters, both major and minor, perfect pacing, and a page-turning narrative combine to make this a standout, accessible title and one worthy of Newbery consideration.
Heavy Medal Award Committee members and others are now invited to discuss this book further in the Comments section below. Please start with positive observations first; stick to positives until at least three comments have been posted or we reach 1:00 pm EST. Let the Mock Newbery discussion begin!:
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.
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