2021 Books By Previous Winners (Part 1)

This is Part 1 of two posts highlighting 2021 titles by previous recipients. 

First given in 2010, the Stonewall Book Award—Children’s and Young Adult Literature Award has celebrated over a decade’s worth of queer literature for children and teens. The list of authors and illustrators who have been recognized by past committees is long, and their upcoming releases include more than just the books listed here. But, since we are a blog focusing on an award for queer content, we’re only listing titles that fit the bill. First up: picture books, middle grade, and nonfiction!

Pride Puppy by Robin Stevenson, illus. Julie McLaughlin (May 2021)

Publisher marketing: A rhyming alphabet book featuring a family who have lost their dog at a Pride parade.

Kazia’s thoughts: I can’t lie, I was initially skeptical of this one, but I’ve been fully won over! Bright, cheerful, illustrations that show a diverse array of queers and have their own subplot? An alphabet book with a rhyme that scans? Yes please!  

Alec’s thoughts: I agree! I love that the central conflict is that the puppy gets lost. The book doesn’t try to instruct about Pride but instead shows Pride through observable details. I also love Grandma’s presence in the story because it cues that the queer parents have support from their families. I don’t think we see enough of that.

The Mysterious Disappearance of Aidan S. (as told to his brother) by David Levithan (February 2021)

Publisher marketing: New York Times bestselling author David Levithan takes young readers on a twisting journey through truth, reality, and fantasy and belief.

Alec’s thoughts: This one came out so early in the year that I almost forgot about it. It’s Levithan’s first foray into middle grade, and it’s perfect for tweens who love When You Reach Me. *spoiler alert* As for queer rep, the revelation reminded me a little bit of that scene ParaNorman where the brother reveals his sexuality at the end. It’s not a book about queerness, but it’s definitely a queer book.

Too Bright to See by Kyle Lukoff (April 2021)

Publisher marketing: A haunting ghost story about navigating grief, growing up, and growing into a new gender identity.

Alec’s thoughts: I am currently reading this one and WOW. This book checks all the boxes for me. Multiple starred reviews and appearance on the NBA shortlist signal that this one is a top contender. I imagine I’ll have a lot to say when I’m finished.

Kazia’s thoughts: I haven’t gotten to dive in yet, but Lukoff’s work is always a must-read!

Hazel Bly and the Deep Blue Sea by Ashley Herring Blake (May 2021)

Publisher marketing: For fans of Erin Entrada Kelly and Ali Benjamin comes a poignant yet hopeful novel about a girl navigating grief, trauma, and friendship, from Ashley Herring Blake, the award-winning author of Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World.

Alec’s thoughts: I haven’t read this one yet but I was a big fan of Ivy Aberdeen. This one sounds like a much heavier book, but with all the grief we’re experiencing these days it could be all the more resonant.

Evelyn Hooker and the Fairy Project by Gayle E. Pitman, illus. Sarah Green (October 2021)

Publisher marketing: This biography tells the story of Evelyn Hooker, the woman behind the research, advocacy, and allyship that led to the removal of the “homosexuality” diagnosis from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Kazia’s thoughts: As a nerd for youth nonfiction and a queer who has Some Feelings about the DSM, I can’t wait to dig into this one.

Alec’s thoughts: I’ll be honest that I didn’t know about Evelyn Hooker until this book. But I’m becoming quite a queer history nerd and I’m so glad this book exists. There’s so much of history that still needs to be told.

Are we missing a book? Have you read any of these yet? Let us know in the comments.

Off We Go!

Autumn has arrived and so has mock award blog season! We’re joining the fold and dusting off Medal on My Mind, too. In the coming months leading up to the ALA Youth Media Awards in January 2022, we (Kazia and Alec) will highlight titles that we think ought to be considered for the Stonewall Book Award (or, more officially, the Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children’s & Young Adult Literature Award).

Note: The Stonewall Book Awards are actually three different awards (one for adult fiction, one for adult nonfiction, and one for youth fiction/nonfiction) but we’re using the Stonewall Book Award for shorthand just to refer to the youth award from here on out. 

Unlike Newbery, Caldecott or other awards, the Stonewall Book Award doesn’t have pages and pages of extensive criteria. But here is what’s on the award page

  • The awards are presented to “English language books that have exceptional merit relating to the LGBTQIA+ experience.”
  • Eligible books must be published January 1, 2021 through December 31, 2021. 
  • Though the award is typically given to books published in the US, international books may be considered.
  • Re-printings of previously published books are not considered.
  • Substantially changed new editions and/or English translations are considered.

Additionally, we’re using these unofficial criteria to inform our selections:

  • 50% or more of the protagonists must be LGBTQIA+ to be considered.
  • We’re going to elevate books that add new voices and experiences to the existing canon of award winners.
  • We’re going to assume there will be a children’s winner and a YA winner because, given the growth in LGBTQIA+ publishing for youth, we believe there should be. 

This year, we’re also doing things a little differently in that the vast majority of our posts are going to be thematic roundups. We might not post every week. We might not have read every title we share. But we’re definitely excited about the Stonewall Book Award and eager to hear your thoughts on the contenders in the comments. Let’s go!