Who will win this year’s National Book Award for young people’s literature?
By Janice Harayda
A swamp of judging conflicts of interest. An orgy of self-congratulation for the publishing industry. A chance to learn about good books you might have missed. The National Book Awards are all of those, and you may see evidence of some of it when they prizes are handed out tomorrow night at Cipriani Wall Street.
During the run-up, I’ve been tweeting micro-reviews of excerpts from finalists’ books and using them to try to predict the winners in every category except poetry, where apparent judging conflicts of interest reduce the odds that my method might work. My fiction and nonfiction predictions appeared earlier this month, and to judge by the finalists’ excerpts, the young people’s literature award should go to Chime or Flesh and Blood So Cheap.
Chime. A folkloric fantasy with the best opening by a mile among National Book Awards YA fiction finalists. Grade: A Based on this excerpt.
Flesh and Blood So Cheap. Vivid nonfiction about the Triangle Shirtwaist fire. Grade: A Based on this excerpt.
Inside Out and Back Again. Unexciting poetry in a high-degree-of-difficulty novel in verse. Grade: B Based on this excerpt.
My Name Is Not Easy. Too little drama for an excerpt with a gun in the first paragraph Grade: B- Based on this excerpt.
Okay for now. Alexie-ish fun, but maybe more Newbery than National Book Awards. Grade: B Based on this excerpt.
© 2011 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.