The twenty-five Finalists for the 2018 National Book Awards for Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Translated Literature, and Young People’s Literature (YPL) were announced today with Buzzfeed News’s AM To DM.
This year’s longlistees for the coveted young people’s literature prize included Elizabeth Acevedo, M.T. Anderson and Eugene Yelchin, Bryan Bliss, Leslie Connor, Christopher Paul Curtis, Jarrett J. Krosoczka, Tahereh Mafi, Joy McCullough, Elizabeth Partridge, and Vesper Stamper.
Now, the longlist has been narrowed to five finalists! See them below.
Each finalist will give a reading of their work at The New School in New York City on November 13. Winners will be announced the following day.
Any title on this list can be purchased by clicking its cover.
Elizabeth Acevedo, The Poet X
A young girl in Harlem discovers slam poetry as a way to understand her mother’s religion and her own relationship to the world. The Poet X is the debut novel of renowned slam poet Elizabeth Acevedo.
Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking.
But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about. With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself.
So when she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she doesn’t know how she could ever attend without her mami finding out, much less speak her words out loud. But still, she can’t stop thinking about performing her poems.
Because in the face of a world that may not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to be silent.
M.T. Anderson and Eugene Yelchin, The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge
Subverting convention, award-winning creators M. T. Anderson and Eugene Yelchin pair up for an anarchic, outlandish, and deeply political saga of warring elf and goblin kingdoms.
Uptight elfin historian Brangwain Spurge is on a mission: survive being catapulted across the mountains into goblin territory, deliver a priceless peace offering to their mysterious dark lord, and spy on the goblin kingdom — from which no elf has returned alive in more than a hundred years. Brangwain’s host, the goblin archivist Werfel, is delighted to show Brangwain around. They should be the best of friends, but a series of extraordinary double crosses, blunders, and cultural misunderstandings throws these two bumbling scholars into the middle of an international crisis that may spell death for them — and war for their nations. Witty mixed media illustrations show Brangwain’s furtive missives back to the elf kingdom, while Werfel’s determinedly unbiased narrative tells an entirely different story. A hilarious and biting social commentary that could only come from the likes of National Book Award winner M. T. Anderson and Newbery Honoree Eugene Yelchin, this tale is rife with thrilling action and visual humor . . . and a comic disparity that suggests the ultimate victor in a war is perhaps not who won the battles, but who gets to write the history.
Leslie Connor, The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle
Mason Buttle is the biggest, sweatiest kid in his grade, and everyone knows he can barely read or write. Mason’s learning disabilities are compounded by grief. Fifteen months ago, Mason’s best friend, Benny Kilmartin, turned up dead in the Buttle family’s orchard. An investigation drags on, and Mason, honest as the day is long, can’t understand why Lieutenant Baird won’t believe the story Mason has told about that day.
Both Mason and his new friend, tiny Calvin Chumsky, are relentlessly bullied by the other boys in their neighborhood, so they create an underground club space for themselves. When Calvin goes missing, Mason finds himself in trouble again. He’s desperate to figure out what happened to Calvin, and eventually, Benny. But will anyone believe him?
Christopher Paul Curtis, The Journey of Little Charlie
Twelve-year-old Charlie is down on his luck: His dad just died, the share crops are dry, and the most fearsome man in Possum Moan, Cap’n Buck, says Charlie’s dad owed him a lot of money. Fearing for his life, Charlie strikes a deal to repay his father’s debt by accompanying Cap’n Buck to Detroit in pursuit of some folks who have stolen from him. It’s not too bad of a bargain for Charlie . . . until he comes face-to-face with the fugitives and discovers that they escaped slavery years ago and have been living free. Torn between his guilty conscience and his survival instinct, Charlie needs to figure out his next move—and soon. It’s only a matter of time before Cap’n Buck catches on . . .
Jarrett J. Krosoczka, Hey, Kiddo
Hey, Kiddo is the graphic memoir of author-illustrator Jarrett J. Krosoczka. Raised by his colorful grandparents, who adopted him because his mother was an incarcerated heroin addict, Krosoczka didn’t know his father’s name until he saw his birth certificate when registering for a school ski trip. Hey, Kiddo traces Krosoczka’s search for his father, his difficult interactions with his mother, his day-to-day life with his grandparents, and his path to becoming an artist.
Remarks on the finalists, courtesy of the National Book Foundation:
A novel in verse, Elizabeth Acevedo’s New York Times bestseller The Poet X follows a Dominican teen who her voice in slam poetry, even as she pushes back against a restrictive family life and the unwanted attention of her neighbors. M. T. Anderson, who has been recognized by the National Book Awards three times previously (2002 Finalist, 2006 Winner, and 2015 Longlister), and Eugene Yelchin combine narrative prose and extravagant illustration to tell a story of elves, goblins, and intrigue in The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge, a political satire commenting on conflict, discrimination, and the bias inherent in history as told by those on top. In Leslie Connor’s The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle, a young protagonist struggles to make sense of the unexplained death of his best friend, as a cycle of bullying continues and a new friend goes missing. In The Journey of Little Charlie, Newbery Medal winner Christopher Paul Curtis tells the story of a twelve-year-old boy in 1858 who, after agreeing to seek out three fugitives in order to pay off a debt, must rise above the ugly values of his time to become an unlikely hero. Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka is a graphic memoir that chronicles a childhood fraught with familial addiction and abandonment, illustrating the exceptional power of art as survival.