The ALA Youth Media Awards are coming right up on Monday, January 24, which means we’re just days away from finding out the real Stonewall Book Award winners. We’d say we’ve been dutifully reading all the contenders but that would be a lie. We apologize for the radio silence to anyone who has been checking this site. Reader’s block continues to be a thing for both of us, but we do have some books that we’re especially rooting for this year.
As a reminder, our interpretation of the criteria is that there will at least be one YA winner and one Children’s winner. So, we picked five contenders for each. The Real Committee may or may not choose to pick multiple winners—including, potentially, a three-way (!) or even four-way(!!) split.
#1. Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo
Our thoughts: It already won the National Book Award, but we really don’t think this amazing work of sapphic historical fiction should stop there. It has been the clear Stonewall frontrunner since early this year and, honestly, it’s about damn time Malinda Lo gets the recognition she deserves.
#2. The Reckless Kind by Carly Heath
Our thoughts: What? Another historical fiction book? Heck yes! This under-the-radar debut deserves all the attention, especially because intersectional stories of queerness (most notably: asexuality and queerplatonic found family) and disability are sorely lacking from the canon.
#3. The Heartbreak Bakery by A. R. Capetta
Our thoughts: The world needs more queer and trans romcoms. There will never be enough. With an agender protagonist and a demisexual, genderfluid love interest, A. R. Capetta continues to deliver the queer YA we deserve. This book has our hearts (and stomachs).
#4. The Witch King by H. E. Edgmon
Our thoughts: Snarky chapter titles and an even snarkier trans boy witch protagonist? A sharp exploration of systemic oppression within (and beyond) a contemporary fae kingdom? One of the most clearly realized first person voices we’ve seen in ages? Check, check, and check.
#5. Boys Run the Riot, Vol. 1 by Keito Gaku
Our thoughts: Though originally published in Japan, we think this still meets Stonewall criteria as a translated book—and we’re thrilled. Has manga ever won an ALA award before? Probably not. But it should and this series starter, by and about a trans guy, is groundbreaking in so many ways.
#6. This is Our Rainbow: 16 Stories of Her, Him, Them and Us edited by Katherine Locke and Nicole Melleby
Our thoughts: This is the first-ever queer middle grade anthology, which in and of itself deserves celebration to acknowledge how far publishing has come. But the short stories (a combo of prose, poetry, and comics) are also incredible, written by some of the very best authors out there.
#7. The Golden Hour by Niki Smith
Our thoughts: This one maybe breaks our content standards in that there is minimal content (cute tween boys blushing and crushing) but it’s a gorgeous, gorgeous graphic novel with rare rural queer representation.
#8. What Are Your Words?: A Book About Pronouns by Katherine Locke, illus. Anne (Andy) Paschier
Our thoughts: Nonbinary dream team Locke and Paschier aren’t the first pair to cover pronouns for the youngest readers (and better not be the last), but this accessible, conversational book is nothing short of a triumph.
#9. A Touch of Ruckus by Ash van Otterloo
Our thoughts: We don’t know about you, but Beetle and the Hollowbones made us both hungry for more queer magical/paranormal middle grade. This one, with a tween girl teaming up with her nonbinary crush to put their families’ literal and metaphorical ghosts to rest, is one we can’t stop thinking about.
#10. Obie is Man Enough by Schulyer Bailar
Our thoughts: Although not light on trauma, this middle grade debut caught our attention with its focus on a biracial trans boy athlete—vital own voices representation that we’re excited to see more of.
Is there a book you’re cheering for that we didn’t include? Let us know in the comments. We’ll be back next week with our reactions to the real Youth Media Award results.