10 for Spring: Young Adult

This look at spring titles is the Young Adult companion to our previous post about children’s books already on shelves. Here we collect the books for teens that have really caught our attention as they’ve been released over the past few months!

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10 for Spring: Kids

Pride Month is here, along with SO MANY exciting queer books. Before we move onto new releases, we want to highlight a few books that have already hit the shelves that we’re excited about. As we wrote in our earlier post, there will be a separate slate of Children’s contenders so our posts will be separated from here on out.

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2023, Here We Come!

Welcome back to another round of Stonewall Book Awards – Mike Morgan and Larry Romans Children’s and Young Adult Literature Award speculation! This year’s team (Alec, Dani, and Kazia) will be making our way through queer books for young people published in 2022 in anticipation of the 2023 award announcement—and we’ll be eager to hear your thoughts as we go. You can expect seasonal posts compiling the titles we’re most excited about and, as we near announcement time in January, our predictions. 

New Children’s and Young Adult Subcategories

We’ll be changing our post structure to reflect a big change coming to the award itself! The ALA Rainbow Round Table (RRT) approved a proposal calling for two award subcategories to go into effect this year, so for the first time, there will be separate Children’s and Young Adult slates. We’re anticipating the Real Committee will select a Children’s winner and up to 4 Children’s honors AND a YA winner and up to 4 YA honors. In keeping with this exciting update, our posts will be broken down into separate Children’s and YA considerations. 

(As a reminder, this blog is totally unofficial and does not reflect RRT or the Real Committee’s opinions.)

Criteria 

As we consider titles, we’ll be drawing on both the official award criteria and some unofficial criteria of our own. 

The official award criteria: 

  • The awards are presented to “English language books that have exceptional merit relating to the LGBTQIA+ experience.”
  • Eligible books must be published January 1, 2022 through December 31, 2022. 
  • 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.

Why It Matters 

Our commitment to highlighting the work of this award feels continually pressing, given the focus of current national anti-LGBTQIA+ backlash on kids, books, and libraries. Recent years have seen a huge increase in the publication of queer books, still mostly centered in YA but expanding to younger audiences. The number of books eligible for award consideration continues to grow each year. At the same time, queer books, and queer kids, are facing a fresh wave of bigotry. Book bannings and suppression are disproportionately targeting books with LGBTQIA+ characters, and state legislation threatens to restrict kids’ access to LGBQTIA+ education and strip trans kids’ rights. An even greater number of book bannings targeting BIPOC characters and horrifying legislative attacks on “critical race theory” make BIPOC queer experiences especially susceptible to erasure. Ensuring that all queer stories get into the hands of all kids is still a fight. It’s with this in mind that we continue this one small effort to champion queer books and queer kids.

We hope you’ll join us.

2022 Youth Media Awards Debrief

Congratulations to the 2022 Stonewall Book Award winners and honors! We’d like to give a special shout out again this year to Dani Crickman, blog co-founder, who chaired this year’s Real Committee. Yay Dani!

Winners: Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo and Too Bright to See by Kyle Lukoff

Honors: Grandad’s Camper by Harry Woodgate, The Darkness Outside Us by Eliot Schrefer, and Almost Flying by Jake Maia Arlow

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Top 10 Stonewall Contenders

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.

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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 

Ghosts
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!