2021 Books By Previous Winners (Part 2)

This is Part 2 of two posts highlighting 2021 titles by previous recipients.

Eleven of the eighteen total Stonewall Book Award winners to date have been books for teens (mostly fiction). The simple fact: books with queer content published for teens far outnumber those for younger audiences. Still, years like 2015, 2019, and 2021 all gave writers for younger readers the gold seal, leaving writers for teens with silver. Will that happen again this year? Here are five new YA releases from previous recipients to get on your radar if they aren’t already.

Aristotle and Dante Dive Into the Waters of the World by Benjamin Alire Sáenz (October 2021)

Publisher marketing: The highly anticipated sequel to the critically acclaimed, multiple award-winning novel Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is an achingly romantic, tender tale sure to captivate fans of Adam Silvera and Mary H.K. Choi.

Kazia’s thoughts: Committee members are supposed to solely evaluate the text at hand, and with four starred reviews, this is one to pay attention to. However, readers will have to decide for themselves if Sáenz’s transphobic behavior is something they’re willing to overlook. 

Alec’s thoughts: I reviewed this one for SLJ, which gave one of those stars. It’s twice the size of its predecessor and, in some ways, felt like a different book. Sáenz revisits the transphobic hate crime mentioned in the first book and, I think, tries to make amends. But is it successful?

Fools in Love edited by Ashley Herring Blake & Rebecca Podos (December 2021)

Publisher marketing: Join fifteen bestselling, award-winning, and up-and-coming authors as they reimagine some of the most popular tropes in the romance genre. 

Alec’s thoughts: Such a great roster of authors contributed to this! I don’t think an anthology has ever been honored before and I’d love to see that someday. 

Kazia’s thoughts: I’ve heard that twelve of the fifteen stories feature queer protagonists, and I’m over the moon that we’re getting an anthology of thoroughly queered romance tropes!   

The Mirror Season by Anna-Marie McLemore (March 2021)

Publisher marketing: When two teens discover that they were both sexually assaulted at the same party, they develop a cautious friendship through her family’s possibly magical pastelería, his secret forest of otherworldly trees, and the swallows returning to their hometown.

Kazia’s thoughts: I haven’t had a chance to dive into this one yet, but to be honest I feel like McLemore never misses! 

Alec’s thoughts: I’m with Kazia. McLemore’s writing is just *chef’s kiss*. This was longlisted for the National Book Award, too, so I’m even more eager to read it. 

Rise to the Sun by Leah Johnson (July 2021)

Publisher marketing: From the author of You Should See Me in a Crown, Leah Johnson delivers a stunning novel about being brave enough to be true to yourself, and learning to find joy even when times are unimaginably dark. 

Kazia’s thoughts: After the triumphant success of You Should See Me in a Crown, I am ready for anything and everything Johnson gifts us. 

Alec’s thoughts: I still haven’t read You Should See Me in a Crown and I really need to. So far, it doesn’t seem like reviewers have loved Rise to the Sun to the same degree, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a contender. I’m intrigued by the music festival plot. 

When You Get the Chance by Robin Stevenson & Tom Ryan (May 2021)

Publisher marketing: Follow cousins on a road trip to Pride as they dive into family secrets and friendships in this contemporary novel—perfect for fans of David Levithan and Becky Albertalli.

Alec’s thoughts: I’ve grown to really enjoy Stevenson’s books and I’m excited about this collaboration. Does this book mean Stevenson has effectively written about Pride for every age group now? I kind of love that—and the rainbow road on the cover, of course!

Kazia’s thoughts: I haven’t gotten my hands on this one yet, but who doesn’t love a road trip novel that will tug at your heart? 

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

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!

2021 Anticipated Books

Happy Pride!

We couldn’t let June—or ALA Annual—roll around without posting something. We’re a small team again this year: Dani’s busy chairing the Real Committee (!!!) and Stacy’s busy being a Library Journal Mover & Shaker (!!!), so it’s just Alec and Kazia! We’re taking it a bit easier this year after the rollercoaster that was 2020, but we still wanted to do a brief mid-year check-in.

Here are a few categories we’re excited about, along with some books we’re putting into our TBR pile.

  • Sharice's Big Voice
  • Singled Out
  • No Way, They Were Gay?
  • May the Best Man Win
  • The Passing Playbook
  • Obie Is Man Enough
  • Hani and Ishu's Guide to Fake Dating
  • Love and Other Natural Disasters
  • Meet Cute Diary
  • The Taking of Jake Livingston
  • Too Bright to See
  • A Touch of Ruckus
  • The Marvelous
  • Ace of Spades
  • The Girls I've Been

Queer history:
Sharice’s Big Voice: A Native Kid Becomes a Congresswoman by Sharice Davids with Nancy K. Mays and illustrated by Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley
Singled Out: The True Story of Glenn Burke by Andrew Maraniss
No Way, They Were Gay?: Hidden Lives and Secret Loves by Lee Wind

Trans athletes
May the Best Man Win by Z.R. Ellor
The Passing Playbook by Isaac Fitzsimons
Obie Is Man Enough by Schuyler Bailar

Rom-coms with BIPOC leads:
Hani and Ishu’s Guide to Fake Dating by Adiba Jaigirdar
Love and Other Natural Disasters by Misa Sugiura
Meet Cute Diary by Emery Lee 

The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass
Too Bright to See by Kyle Lukoff
Touch of Ruckus by Ash Van Otterloo 

Thrillers & mysteries:
The Marvelous by Claire Kann
Ace of Spades by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé
The Girls I’ve Been by Tess Sharpe

What have you read and loved so far in 2021? Any early Stonewall Book Award frontrunners? Let us know in the comments!

Join Us Next Year!

We’re on hiatus! 

It’s a busy year for the whole team and we’ve decided to sit this round out rather than bringing you a less than stellar look at queer books. 

Expect us back next fall in the lead-up to Stonewall 2021. 

As the number of eligible books published for children and teens continues to grow, we need to grow too! We’re looking for advocates for children’s and teen LGBTQIA+ books to join our team. Send us a sample review at medalonmymind@gmail.com if you’d like to write with us regularly for next year’s award season (August 2020 through January 2021).

2019 Wrap-Up

Congratulations to the 2019 Stonewall Book Award winners and honors!

Here are the books that received recognition (with links to our coverage):

Winners: Hurricane Child by Kheryn Callender and Julián Is a Mermaid by Jessica Love.

Honors: Picture Us in the Light by Kelly Loy Gilbert and Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake.

Two of these titles were selected in our mock award—not bad!

We’re excited to see Hurricane Child, Picture Us in the Light, and Ivy Aberdeen take the award; they’re books we raved about along the way! It’s especially wonderful to see two middle grade books about queer girls receive attention. This recognition represents something new—and much-needed—for the award.

We’re uneasy about Julián‘s win given the concerns that have been raised about it. See: “Trans People Aren’t Imaginary Creatures” (Booktoss) and Alex Gino’s recent tweets.

Looking beyond the Stonewall, there were other exciting wins for queer books:

  • Jerome by Heart by Thomas Scotto with illustrations by Olivier Tallec (translated by Claudia Bedrick and Karin Snelson) received a Batchelder Award honor
  • Anger Is a Gift by Mark Oshiro won in the Schneider Family Book Award’s teen category
  • Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorran won the Morris Award AND won in the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature’s young adult category
  • My Brother’s Husband Vol. 1 & 2 by Gengoroh Tagame (translated by Anne Ishii) won the inaugural GLLI Translated YA Book Prize

GLBTRT’s 2019 Rainbow Book List has been announced, too! Two of our mock picks (Hurricane Child & Darius the Great) made the Top Ten!

And so we wrap up the award season with plenty to celebrate and plenty of gratitude toward those who commented, guest blogged, or lurked at the blog this season. We’ll be back in the summer in anticipation of the 2020 awards! In the mean time, drop us a line if you’re interested in guest blogging.

Edited 2/6/19: We’ve removed a portion of this post reacting to what we interpreted as a mislabeling of Hurricane Child as YA in the awarding process. Our interpretation was based on language that was used in ALA’s press release. We’ve since learned that this language did not accurately reflect the committee’s decision.

2019 Mock Winners

ivy aberdeen
The votes are in: Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashely Herring Blake wins Medal on My Mind’s mock Stonewall Award!

Notably, the Stonewall Award often goes to more than one book, in some cases representing discreet categories, like children’s and YA or fiction and nonfiction. In a committee setting, our results would call for further deliberation, but we feel good about naming The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang a second winner, with honors to Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram and Hurricane Child by Kheryn Callender.

Here’s the total breakdown of votes for our finalists:

  1. Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake – 39 points
  2. The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang – 34 points
  3. Darius the Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram – 30 points
  4. Hurricane Child by Kheryn Callender – 29 points
  5. The Cardboard Kingdom by Chad Sell – 27 points
  6. PS I Miss You by Jen Petro-Roy – 26 points
  7. A Quick and Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns by Archie Bongiovanni and Tristan Jimerson – 11 points
We can’t wait to see what the committee has chosen when the award is announced at the ALA Youth Media Awards on Monday (8:00AM PT). We’ll be back with some final thoughts after the fact.

A hearty congratulations to all our winners! And a big thanks to you for speculating with us!

Second Ballot

…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.

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First Ballot

It’s voting time! According to the official award process, committee members would have each nominated 10-15 titles to be semi-finalists back in December. The 10 titles with the most votes are the only titles discussed at the Midwinter meeting in January. For the first ballot, committee members vote for their top five. For the second ballot, committee members vote for their top choice from the top five and discuss whether there will be honor books named or separate categories within the award (children’s, young adult, etc.).

We’ve obviously done things a little differently here at Medal on My Mind. In the past few months, we’ve covered 46 titles. Not all of those titles received glowing recommendations. And we haven’t narrowed down the list to a top 10. But that’s where you come in!

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