National Book Award Longlist

national_book_longlist

Yesterday the Longlist for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature was announced. It’s interesting to me to think about how the criteria for the National Book Award stacks up against the criteria for the Newbery and Printz and against the number of starred reviews. Here’s a closer look.

Eligibility: The National Book Award pulls from titles published between December 1 of the previous year and November 30 of the current year. I believe all of the ALA Awards, but definitely the Newbery and Printz, pull from the previous calendar year. So the 2016 National Book Award lists compare best to the 2017 ALA Youth Media Awards, but they don’t overlap completely.

Beyond publication date the only stated criteria for the National Book Award that I can find is that it must be written by an American citizen and published by an American publisher. This is actually stricter than the Newbery criteria which also allows for authors who are United States residents, but not citizens, and far stricter than the Printz criteria which only requires that a book be designated as Young Adult, available in print and distributed through a US publishing house.

Criteria: Other than that, the process is pretty vague leading me to wonder if each year the new committee gets to define their own criteria. If anyone else can find something similar to the Newbery Manual on the National Book website, please let me know!

Judges: This year, the Young People’s Literature judges are: William Alexander, Valerie Lewis, Ellen Oh, Katherine Paterson, and Laura Ruby. Per the SLJ post, they selected the longlist from 326 submissions.

The National Book Foundation also puts some pretty stringent conditions on the publishers who submit books. There’s a small fee to submit titles and if a title gets named as a Finalist? They must agree to “contribute $3,000 toward a promotional campaign…($750 for presses with income of under $10 million).” I don’t work for a publishing house, so I don’t know for sure, but I would suspect this means that they are choosy about what they submit meaning there are lower chances for outliers. Since the Foundation returned to having a youth award in 1996, I don’t think there’s been a single picture book or easy reader named. A tiny bit of poetry and a generous sprinkling of non-fiction are included, but the lion’s share of honored titles are novels.

So how does the 2016 Longlist fare with starred reviews and eligibility for the Newbery and Printz? For starters none of the four books that have received 6 starred reviews (so far) was a likely contender and none made the list. Frances Hardinge is British which knocks out The Lie Tree and both School’s First Day of School and Thunder Boy Jr. are picture books. I thought maybe Jazz Day had a chance, but no dice. Let’s analyze the titles that did make the list!

bookedAlexander, Kwame. Booked. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. April 2016.
Newbery: traditional contender; author is a previous winner
Printz: a little young for the Printz but within the criteria
Stars: 4 starred reviews from Booklist, Horn Book, Kirkus and Publishers Weekly. The Bulletin recommended it without a star; SLJ reviewed it positively, but did not star it.

raymienightingaleDiCamillo, Kate. Raymie Nightingale. Candlewick. April 2016.
Newbery: traditional contender; author is a previous winner
Printz: a little young for the Printz but within the criteria
Stars: One of only two of the books with 5 starred reviews to make the longlist – despite some others that I thought would be likely NBA contenders like The Passion of Dolssa. Starred reviews are from Booklist, Horn Book, Kirkus, Publishers Weekly and School Library Journal. The Bulletin recommended it without a star.

march_book_threeLewis, John and Andrew Aydin. March: Book Three. illustrated by Nate Powell. Top Shelf. August 2016.
Newbery: Probably too old; plus it’s the third in a trilogy which lowers its chances
Printz: right in the age range and they’ve honored sequels and graphic novels before.
Stars: 5 starred reviews from Booklist, Horn Book (not in the spreadsheet yet ’cause it’s in the Sep/Oct issue and I haven’t started entering September yet), Kirkus, Publishers Weekly (but in their adult section) and School Library Journal. The Bulletin has not yet reviewed this one – I’m not sure they’ve actually reviewed any of the March graphic novels.

whentheseaturnedtosilverLin, Grace. When the Sea Turned to Silver. Little, Brown. October 2016.
Newbery: traditional contender; previous honor for author; Can it escape the curse of being a “companion book”?
Printz: barely touches the Printz age range – not likely
Stars: 5 starred reviews from Booklist, Kirkus, Publishers Weekly and School Library Journal. Neither the Bulletin nor the Horn Book has reviewed this, but it’s a later pub date, so they’re probably coming.

when_the_moon_was_oursMcLemore, Anna-Marie. When the Moon Was Ours. St. Martin’s/Thomas Dunne. October 2016.
Newbery: upper age range; unlikely
Printz: traditional contender; previous Morris honor
Stars: 2 starred reviews from Kirkus and School Library Journal, but it hasn’t been reviewed at all by Booklist, the Bulletin, Horn Book or Publishers Weekly yet, so there may be more to come.

burnbabyburnMedina, Meg. Burn Baby Burn. Candlewick. March 2016.
Newbery: upper age range; unlikely
Printz: traditional contender
Stars: 4 starred reviews from Booklist, Horn Book, Kirkus and School Library Journal. The Bulletin recommended it without a star; Publishers Weekly reviewed it with no star.

paxPennypacker, Sara. Pax. illustrated by Jon Klassen. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray. February 2016.
Newbery: traditional contender
Printz: barely touches the age range – unlikely
Stars: 4 starred reviews from Booklist, Kirkus, Publishers Weekly and School Library Journal. The Bulletin recommended it without a star; the Horn Book reviewed it with no star.

ghostReynolds, Jason. Ghost. Simon & Shuster/Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy. August 2016.
Newbery: traditional contender
Printz: bottom of the age range
Stars: 4 starred reviews from Booklist (Sep – not in spreadsheet), Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, and School Library Journal (Sep – not in spreadsheet). Neither the Bulletin nor the Horn Book has reviewed it.

sachikoStelson, Caren. Sachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor’s Story. Carolrhoda. October 2016.
Newbery: non-fiction so less likely, but right in the age range
Printz: non-fiction has not been doing well lately
Stars: 2 starred reviews from Booklist and School Library Journal – both in September issues. Kirkus and Publishers Weekly reviewed with no stars. Neither the Bulletin nor the Horn Book has reviewed it.

sun_is_also_a_starYoon, Nicola. The Sun Is Also a Star. Random House/Delacorte. November 2016.
Newbery: upper age range; unlikely
Printz: traditional contender
Stars: 3 starred reviews from Booklist, Kirkus, and Publishers Weekly (Sep – not in spreadsheet). School Library Journal reviewed without a star. Neither the Bulletin nor the Horn Book has reviewed it.

A few things to note:

  • Candlewick is the only publisher with two titles on the list.
  • Publication dates range from February to November with October being the most popular month at three titles.
  • None of the October/November titles have been reviewed by the Horn Book or Bulletin yet and I expect reviews of at least some of them to still be coming – especially with the National Book Award attention.
  • 2 have 5 starred reviews; 5 have 4; 1 has 3 and 2 have 2 – however with reviews still to come on several it’s hard to know how that will shake out. March, Book Three (5 stars); When the Sea Turned to Silver (4 stars); When the Moon Was Ours (2 stars) and Ghost (4 stars) have all received stars from every journal that’s reviewed them so far.
  • We have five traditional contenders for the Newbery and three traditional contenders for the Printz. March, Book Three would be an outlier for the Printz as both a graphic novel and third in a trilogy, but both graphics and sequels have been honored before. Non-fiction has not been faring well with either award so Sachiko‘s chances aren’t great. Raymie Nightingale is the only one that I think has even a chance of double recognition from both the Printz and the Newbery, but you never really know. Pretty much everything has been reviewed such that it touches the age range for both awards.

The only one of these I’ve personally read is Burn Baby Burn which I found to be excellent. Anyone else have a favorite they’re pulling for to make the Shortlist or win it all? In the meantime, I’m off to track some of these down.

Happy Reading!

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2 thoughts on “National Book Award Longlist

  1. I used to get really agitated when the National Book Award list came out because I was worried I was missing the best books which would be contenders for the Printz. After several years of such agitation I realized that there is very little cross over between the two awards, so I will stay with my plan to read the 3+ starred reviewed books and hope that the Printz committee picks from them. BTW-I am with you. I can’t believe that the Passion of Dolssa wasn’t on the long list.

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    1. I think the age range difference and the fact that the Printz is open to international authors really makes the difference. But I couldn’t resist comparing them anyway!

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