Barnes & Noble announces inaugural Children’s and YA Book Awards winners
Barnes & Noble announced the winners for their Children’s and YA Book Awards today. The awards honor titles that have been published between March 2020 and March 2021.
This is the first year for the awards, in which Barnes & Noble book buyers and sellers single out titles by exceptional new authors and those who are early in their careers. The categories include children, young reader and YA novels.
“We are very proud as a bookseller to support the careers of authors,” said James Daunt, CEO of Barnes & Noble. “It is especially exciting to bring truly outstanding talent to everyone’s attention … and these Awards will launch hitherto lesser-known authors on long and glittering careers.”
The winning titles are featured below, followed by the finalists.
"Mel Fell," by Corey R. Tabor (Photo: Balzer + Bray)
WINNER: “Mel Fell,” by Corey R. Tabor. About: Readers follow a bird named Mel on her journey from falling down to triumphant flight. According to Barnes & Noble: “A special book (no matter which way you hold it) and one that’s sure to leave a lasting impression on all those who read it.”
“This past year we saw the release of many incredible picture books. “Mel Fell” stands out as an inspiring tale of hope and perseverance, while also celebrating the importance of community,” said Scott Berkowitz, Manager, Children’s Books, Barnes & Noble.
In a statement from the book’s author, Corey R. Tabor: “I am so excited and honored to win this award! I was actually in a Barnes & Noble bookstore when I decided to try making my first picture book. I stumbled across a serendipitous stack of Maurice Sendak picture books, and I just kept on stumbling right into the world of children’s publishing.”
“All Because You Matter,” by Tami Charles; art by Bryan Collier. About: A reminder to young readers that whatever happens, good or bad, they matter and always will. According to Barnes & Noble: “A beautiful love letter to Black and brown children with a nurturing message to be appreciated by all. This is sure to start conversations and have a long-lasting impact.”
“Every Night Is Pizza Night,” by J. Kenji López-Alt; art by Gianna Ruggiero. About: Pipo knows that pizza is the best. But when Pipo goes on a quest to prove it, she realizes “best” is not what she thinks it means. According to Barnes & Noble: “Whether you’re a finicky eater or cuisinally-curious, ‘Every Night Is Pizza Night’ is a treat for all ages.”
“Fern and Otto,” by Stephanie Graegin. About: The exciting adventures of two best friends, Fern the bear and Otto the cat, as they go in search of an exciting story. According to Barnes & Noble: “The perfect read-aloud for the perfect storytime. Stephanie Graegin manages to weave her own wholesome, engaging adventure seamlessly into some of the most well-known and appreciated fairy tales we all love.”
“The Whatifs,” by Emily Kilgore; art by Zoe Persico. About: Cora constantly worries about ‘what if?’ According to Barnes & Noble: “A refreshing, script-flipping take on the anxieties that creep into all of our lives. Emily Kilgore’s debut is approachable for all ages, and beyond being useful for discussing anxiety.”
“What the Road Said,” by Cleo Wade; art by Lucie de Moyencourt (available March 23). About: Sometimes we mistakenly walk down the wrong path, but when that happens we should lead with kindness and curiosity. According to Barnes & Noble: “Beaming with inspiration … ‘What the Road Said’ is the perfect vehicle to spotlight the virtues of taking chances, believing in yourself and, ultimately, creating your path for happiness in life.”
"Amari and the Night Brothers," by B.B. Alston (Photo: Balzer + Bray)
WINNER: “Amari and the Night Brothers,” by B.B. Alston. About: Amari Peters just knows her missing brother, Quinton, is alive, and she will do what it takes to find him. According to Barnes & Noble: “Amari and the Night Brothers” is the “courageous and clever middle-grade heroine we have been missing. … This ‘Artemis Fowl’ meets ‘Men in Black’ debut will fill readers with glee.”
With a fierce female protagonist and a secret magical world full of mythical creatures, Amari and the Night Brothers is exactly the kind of book I would have loved to read when I was younger,” said Stephanie Pinheiro, Manager, Young Readers and Young Adult Books, Barnes & Noble. “B. B. Alston’s world-building is truly phenomenal, and we cannot wait for his next book.”
In a statement from the book’s author, B.B. Alston: “For years, the Barnes & Noble at Forest Acres has been my writing sanctuary, a cozy place I go to be surrounded by books and feel inspired … It’s why this award is so incredibly special. This means the world to me.”
“Everything Sad Is Untrue,” by Daniel Nayeri. About: An autobiographical novel about a young Iranian refugee who arrives in Oklahoma. According to Barnes & Noble: “It’s a mesmerizing and, at times, emotional read that will make readers of any age think in a new way, but with plenty of snarky writing and literary potty humor that middle schoolers will certainly appreciate.”
“The List of Things That Will Not Change,” by Rebecca Stead. About: Bea’s life changes dramatically when her parents get divorced. According to Barnes & Noble: “Authentic and sweet, ‘The List of Things That Will Not Change’ should be essential reading for every young person.”
“Twins,” by Varian Johnson; art by Shannon Wright. About: Maureen and Francine Carter are twins and best friends, but soon Francine becomes Fran and sets herself apart. According to Barnes & Noble: “A beautiful graphic-novel exploring the theme of sisterhood with a coming-of-age storyline that readers will totally relate to.”
“When Stars Are Scattered,” by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed. About: Omar and his younger brother, Hassan, live in a refugee camp in Kenya, and Omar has a chance to make their lives better by getting an education. But that means leaving Hassan every day. According to Barnes & Noble: “A heartbreaking, hopeful, eye-opening must-read for all ages.”
“Wink,” by Rob Harrell. About: Ross Maloy just wants to be a normal seventh grader, but his recent diagnosis of a rare eye cancer keeps him from doing that. According to Barnes & Noble: “‘Wink’ is the heartfelt and hilarious … perfect for fans of Wonder.”
"Fire Keeper's Daughter," by Angeline Boulley (Photo: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR))
WINNER: “Firekeeper’s Daughter,” by Angeline Boulley. About: Daunis Fontaine’s dreams of college are dashed when a family tragedy strikes. According to Barnes & Noble: “Boulley’s authentic depictions of the complexities of Native communities and the trauma and strength of Native women, specifically, make this book a complete standout for YA and adult readers alike.”
“While a mystery at its core, Firekeeper’s Daughter is so much more than that. It’s a coming-of-age tale, a slow-burn romance, and an exploration of Native culture all wrapped up into one breathtaking thriller that I truly could not put down,” said Pinheiro.
In a statement from the book’s author, Angeline Boulley: “I am incredibly honored to be selected for the inaugural Barnes & Noble YA Book Award. … “I wrote it for Native American teens to see themselves and their aunties, uncles, and elders in a story. And for my story to reach the broadest audience possible, because we are still here and have dynamic experiences to share beyond history books or stories set long ago. Miigwech (Thank you).”
“The Black Kids,” by Christina Hammonds Reed. About: Ashley Bennett’s comfortable life changes when the 1992 Rodney King riots dramatically change her world and she goes from one of the girls to one of the Black kids. According to Barnes & Noble: “With poetic, scene-setting language, author Christina Hammonds Reed expertly explores issues like systemic racism, classism, and police brutality in an unflinching way … an eye-opening must read.”
“Cemetery Boys,” by Aiden Thomas. About: When Yadriel performs a ritual to help his traditional Latinx family accept his true gender, things do not go as planned. According to Barnes & Noble: “Part paranormal fantasy, part mystery, part slow-burn romance, Cemetery Boys is a must-read for lovers of all genres.
“Felix Ever After,” by Kacen Callender. About: Felix Love, a Black, queer and transgender teen, grapples with his identity and finding love, for himself and from others. According to Barnes & Noble: “This contemporary coming-of-age story set in New York City is authentic, emotional, and ultimately hopeful. It is sure to spark thought-provoking conversations on gender identity and self-discovery for readers of any age.”
“Punching the Air,” by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam. About: The story of teen Amal Shahid, 16, who is wrongfully incarcerated. According to Barnes & Noble: “An unflinching look inside the American criminal justice system … Honest, raw and profoundly eye-opening, this is a must-read for teens and adults alike.”
“These Violent Delights,” by Chloe Gong. About: Former loves Juliette Cai and Roma Montagove, who are heirs to respective Shanghai gangs, must work together According to Barnes & Noble: “Perfect for fans of The Last Magician and Serpent & Dove, this heart-stopping debut is an imaginative Romeo and Juliet retelling set in 1920s Shanghai.”
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