Claudette Colvin Bio Wins a National Book Award
More Entries for the Best Children's Books '09 List

Nonfiction for Older (Kid) Readers

The Middle Grade/Young Adult Nonfiction category of the Cybils awards is so hot that it's smokin'. 2009 has been a very good year for children's nonfiction. Two of the five finalists for the National Book Award in Young People's Literature were nonfiction titles: Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice and Charles and Emma. As you've heard, Claudette Colvin won. Those books and other strong candidates are vying for a Cybils award. Who will make the Cybils' final-five short list? I don't know!

Here are some links to reviews written by the Cybils' Middle Grade/Young Adult Nonfiction panelist-bloggers and others. If you know of other reviews in this category, tell me in the comments section, and I'll add to the list because look at all this awesome talk about nonfiction books for kids!

Chasing Lincoln's Killer. Jill Tullo at The Well-Read Child writes, "Chasing Lincoln's Killer is what great nonfiction should be. It reads like a heart-pounding story with enough detail to give you an intimate picture of Booth, but it doesn't overwhelm you with facts and details that make a lot of nonfiction difficult to navigate."

Nelson Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom. Jennie Rothschild at Biblio File says, "There's not a great sense [in this book] of why Mandela is the hero he is..."

Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice. Alicia Blowers at The LibrariYAn writes, "The compelling narrative (including Claudette's own words), extensive notes and suggestions for further reading make this a book perfect for the inquisitive middle or high schooler or for class research." 

The Great and Only Barnum. Middle-grade fiction judge David Elzey at The Excelsior File says, "...a breezy read, well-documented with a strong narrative thread, and actually fun. Makes me wish there were more biographies like this when I was a kid."...¶ Plus, there's a review written by a fourth grader at Educating Alice. That student writes, "... [A] very amazing book by Candace Fleming." 

Three Cups of Tea (Young Readers Edition). Erin Walker at Erin Explores YA says, "...the writing itself is not particularly engaging, though fortunately the clunky text does not diminish Mortenson’s story or his message."

Marching for Freedom. At Emily Reads, Emily Mitchell, who writes all her reviews haiku-style, says,"I can't find anything / negative to say about / this book. Can you?" Emily is a judge in the nonfiction picture book category.  

Episodes. As the category organizer for older-reader nonfiction, I couldn't resist jumping in with some commentary about this memoir: "[Blaze Ginsberg] has organized his high-school and early college years as if they were episodes of a long-running TV program listed at the Internet Movie Database, including a cast, guest stars, summary, and soundtrack." 

Charles and Emma. Middle-grade fiction panelist Abby Johnson, a.k.a. Abby (the) Librarian, says, "Got kids coming in looking for narrative nonfiction? Hand them this book pronto. I'd also hand it to fans of Pride and Prejudice or other such classic lit. It's readable enough to be recreational, but it's factual and will work for research reports, too."

For Liberty: The Story of the Boston Massacre. Middle grade/young adult nonfiction judge Colleen Mondor writes at Chasing Ray, "Every time I read Timothy Decker I am reminded of how casually many authors approach historic subjects for children. Decker however respects his audience as much as his subject and thus is one of the best in this genre." 

Cars on Mars. Former Cybils judge and category organizer Elizabeth Bird at A Fuse #8 Production says, "Picture this: robots with extraordinary life spans exploring a planet 303,000,000 miles away. It's not science fiction, it's fact."

After Gandhi: One Hundred Years of Nonviolent Resistance. Blogging at A Wrung Sponge, fiction picture book judge Andromeda Jazmon says, "I found reading this book to be delightful, encouraging and inspiring," though she notes "that the... graphics are not particularly appealing to youth accustomed to full color, lively graphics."  

Almost Astronauts. Angela at Bookish Blather, who attended the recent Cybils discussion in NYC (okay, I'm stretching the connection here, but I like her review), writes, "[Tanya Lee] Stone has packed a lot of history into a compact book, giving great descriptions of not only the physical astronaut trials the Mercury 13 women went through, but also the social and political trials they faced in daring to want to pilot a space shuttle."

Years of Dust. At the Washington Post, Abby McGanney Nolan, who has nothing to do with the Cybils at all, writes, "...Albert Marrin's sweeping study of the dirty '30s may give readers the uncomfortable sensation of dust in their throats. Fortunately, the book also contains clear explanations of what led to the complicated tragedy known as the Dust Bowl."

Want to learn about more nonfiction for children? Check the Nonfiction Monday roundup at the blog Practically Paradise later today.


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Don't forget my 4th grade student's review of Barnum here:

Thank you, Monica. How could I forget? I read Barnum after that fourth grader's writeup!

It's great to see more high-quality, interesting informational books being published for kids this age. They really eat them up when they can find them, which reminds me that I have to find a way to draw more attention to them in the library.

I know what you mean, Adrienne, about positioning these books so that kids know they're available. Sometimes there just isn't enough space to show everything that ought to be shown!

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