…And the results of the first ballot are in! Five titles tied so we’re calling it a top seven rather than a top five. Per the official award process, committee members would next vote for a single title out of the five. We’re going to deviate from that just a bit because (a) we have already broken the rules and (b) we think it will help us get a more meaningful picture of your opinions since we don’t get to have face-to-face discussion.
In the comments section of this post, please rank the top seven, with the first being your top choice and the seventh being your last choice. We’ll use the rankings to determine whether there are clear honor books AND if the award should be separated into categories (e.g., a young adult winner and a children’s winner).
Haven’t read them all? That’s okay! With the exception of one, you can click the title of each book for a link to our coverage.
Voting for the second ballot will close Saturday, January 26 at 5:00pm EST. Once the results are tallied, we’ll announce the mock winner. On Monday, January 28, tune into the ALA Youth Media Awards to find out what book(s) the Real Committee picks!
Without further ado, here are the finalists in alphabetical order by title:
The Cardboard Kingdom by Chad Sell
Alfred A. Knopf BFYR, June 2018
*4 nominations* Alec says: “For the sake of Stonewall Book Award eligibility, this book fits the bill in its depiction of gender identity/expression and sexuality via two of the major characters. […] [C]haracters edit their realities through roleplaying to learn who they really are. You can see this visually represented in the final image of the kids rushing into school, with the shadows of their Cardboard Kingdom personas behind them.”
Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram
Dial Books, August 2018
*4 nominations* Alec says: “Mostly implied via subtext, Darius’ queerness falls into the realm of questioning. The isolation Darius feels as a ‘Fractional Persian’ parallels his own isolation as a queer person, creating a moving intersectional portrait of what it’s like to be outside the mainstream in multiple ways. Queer teens—Iranian or not—will undoubtedly connect to Darius, whether it’s his insecurity, his depression, or his family dynamics.”
Hurricane Child by Kheryn Callender
Scholastic, March 2018
*4 nominations* Dani says: “One of the most significant pieces of this book—and the thing that really made me fall for it—is Callender’s portrayal of first love. At age twelve, Caroline’s relationship with Kalinda unfolds with intensity: it’s earnest and naive, fierce and life changing. Caroline’s unrepentant conviction about her feelings is heartening, not to mention utterly fitting for a character who approaches everything with spirited determination.”
Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake
Little, Brown BFYR, March 2018
*4 nominations* Alec says: “Blake’s pacing and structure give Ivy time to ponder the mysteries of ‘girlfriend,’ ‘partner,’ and other words. […] This book is ultimately ‘about a girl who [is] figuring out that she [gets] crushes on girls instead of boys, who [is] figuring out how to love her friends and how to let her friends love her.’ The real Stonewall committee will have a hard time not falling in love with Ivy.”
The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang
First Second, Feb 2018
*7 nominations* Dani says: “[T]he narrative maintains a graceful balance between interrogating gender as a malleable social construct and recognizing it as an inescapable and profoundly impactful aspect of life. […] By drawing attention to how arbitrary the rules dictating acceptable gender performance are, the text suggests, we can also erode prejudices against people who do gender differently. That’s a message to take to heart.”
P.S. I Miss You by Jan Petro-Roy
Feiwel & Friends, March 2018
*5 nominations* We don’t have a quote from a post here because, surprise, we didn’t cover this one! But we hear you and are all bumping this to the tops of our TBR piles. Interestingly, this title seems to have been snubbed of any starred reviews… Could it be the sleeper hit of the season? In the comments on the First Ballot, JenLyn notes that the book is “beautiful and poignant and so so important and broke my heart about 5 times while I read it.” Sounds like a good read, no?
A Quick and Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns by Archie Bongiovanni and Tristan Jimerson
Limerence Press, June 2018
*4 nominations* Dani says: “This guide does a fantastic job of delivering the information it promises to in exactly the quick and easy way it promises. Smart and to the point, with just the right amount of humor to keep it engaging, it fulfills its mission of being an approachable fast-read primer. The intentionality behind its production stands out, too; it’s purposefully designed as a cheap paperback for the sake of financial accessibility.”