Last Wednesday the National Book Award for Young People's Literature went to Kathryn Erskine's novel Mockingbird (Philomel Books/Penguin Young Readers). The other nominees were Paolo Bacigalupi's Ship Breaker (Little, Brown), Laura McNeal's Dark Water (Knopf), Walter Dean Myers' Lockdown (Amistad/HarperCollins), and Rita Williams-Garcia's One Crazy Summer (Amistad/HarperCollins).
Kathleen T. Horning, director of the Cooperative Children's Book Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said,
"If you haven't yet read all of the nominees for this year's award, I urge you to do so. They are all excellent books; each one is so different from the others. As a group they demonstrate the range of outstanding literature currently available for children and teens. In fact, if you wanted to introduce someone to current children's and young adult literature, you could start with these five books."
The Cooperative Children's Book Center maintains CCBC-Net, a listserv "encouraging awareness and discussion of ideas and issues critical to literature for children and young adults." I took the quote from there, and use it here with permission; I thought it was great advice. Kathleen T. Horning is also the author of From Cover to Cover, the definitive guide to children's book reviewing, newly revised in 2010. If you write about books for kids, it's a must-have.