…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.
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!
The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang
First Second, Feb 2018
Reviewed from hardcover
Summary: After designing an outfit that proves shocking to her late-19th-century, almost exclusively white Parisian milieu, plucky seamstress Frances is offered a job making dresses for a new client who she is surprised to learn is none other than the Crown Prince of Belgium. Frances’s dresses provide Sebastian freedom in the form of both disguise and access to a fundamental part of himself, dubbed Lady Crystallia. The two strike a bargain: Frances will keep Sebastian’s secret because working for him could lead to her becoming a world-class designer. But cavorting in dance halls in beautiful outfits can’t last forever. Sebastian’s double-life is difficult to keep up, especially with looming princely expectations, and guarding Sebastian’s secret proves a dead-end for Frances’s career that will cause a rift in their relationship, even as it begins to turn romantic.
Blanca & Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore
Feiwel Friends, Oct 2018
Reviewed from hardcover
Plot Summary: This retelling of “Snow White and Rose Red” crossed with Swan Lake, with hints of other fairy tales, centers two sisters who grow up knowing that one day one of them will be turned into a swan. In their predominantly white town, being latina links Blanca and Roja both to witchcraft and strangeness, but Blanca’s sunshine yellow hair affords her better treatment than Roja, whose red-stained black hair marks her at a glance as other. Despite their differences, they’ve spent their whole lives trying to become indistinguishable from one another, to prevent the swans from being able to choose between them. The arrival of the swans to their family home coincides with the arrival of two local boys, Page and Barclay, and rising tensions breed jealousy and resentment. As the trust the sisters have worked so hard to make unbreakable begins to dissolve, will they still be able to protect one another? And will they want to?
Our guest blogger today is Sabrina Montenigro. Sabrina (she/her/hers) is a bookseller at The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art and a reviewer for Kirkus. She is a recent graduate of the Children’s Literature M.A. program at Simmons College, where her thesis research centered contemporary queer YA. Find her @sabrina_reading on Twitter and Instagram.
Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan
JIMMY Patterson Books / Little, Brown & Co, Nov 2018
Reviewed from ARC
The Storyteller by Traci Chee (Reader/Sea of Ink and Gold Book 3)
Putnam / Penguin Random House, Dec 2018
Reviewed from hardcover
Caution: spoilers ahead!
Plot Summary: Both books take on the overarching project of grappling with identity and destiny, and their intersections with language, in a way that speaks to the queer experience on multiple levels.
Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann
Swoon Reads, Feb 2018
Reviewed from Hardcover
Plot Summary: After Alice’s girlfriend breaks up with her, her summer plans consist solely of hanging out with her best friends and working her part-time job at the library. What she didn’t plan on was developing a huge crush on her new coworker, Takumi, and she especially didn’t plan on Takumi liking her back. The thing is, the reason Alice’s girlfriend broke up with her is because Alice is asexual. Now, she’s spending her summer worrying about how to tell Takumi she’s ace and if telling him will ruin whatever is going on between them. Alice’s easy summer vacation just got a lot more complicated.
Hurricane Child by Kheryn Callender
Scholastic, March 2018
Reviewed from hardcover
Plot Summary: Caroline’s mother disappeared over a year ago, leaving Caroline with her father on Water Island, part of the US Virgin Islands—the part tourists don’t see because they don’t want to. Troubled by questions about her self-worth, Caroline is determined to find her mother and get an explanation for her abandonment. The arrival of new girl Kalinda to the Catholic school Caroline attends on St Thomas brings a welcome reprieve from the bullying of classmates and teachers. Caroline is intent on making Kalinda the first friend she’s ever had, only to succeed and discover that her feelings are also romantic. Caroline suspects that she and Kalinda share an ability to see things that no one else can, which might mean that Kalinda is just the person to help her find her mother.
We’ve probably said this before, but it bears repeating: we LOVE comics and graphic novels, and we love seeing them get due consideration in awards predictions.
So far, Medal on My Mind has covered Cardboard Kingdom, Check, Please! Vol. 1: #Hockey, Moonstruck, Vol. 1, and A Quick and Easy Guide to They/Them Pronouns, and we have a post about The Prince and the Dressmaker still to come.
Here are a handful of others we think are worth keeping an eye on:
Our guest blogger today is Angela Ocana. Angela (she/her) is a fierce queer Latina, not to mention a saucy and sassy Teen Services Supervisor for Eugene Public Library.
Check, Please! Vol 1: #Hockey by Ngozi Ukazu
First Second, Sept 2018
Plot Summary: Samwell College’s newest freshman, Eric ‘Bitty’ Bittle, has handed in his figure skates for a hockey a stick in Ngozi Ukazu’s webcomic turned graphic novel, Check, Please!. As the newest member of the Samwell hockey team, Bitty finds himself in a strange world of straight men, steeped in ‘bro’ culture. It is hilarious how disgusting and gross college boy can be, and better yet, how Bitty deals with it. For the most part he spends his college days posting on his baking blog, fretting about the team, and learning to take a hit on the ice. Indeed, as the title implies, Bitty struggles with taking a check—or, for those of us who do not understand hockey, a hard hit delivered to block out an opponent. You fall in love with Bitty during his pie baking monologues and watching him sing his heart out to Beyoncé. As the book draws to a close, we discover the fate of the Samwell hockey team’s championship aspirations, and maybe more intriguing, Bitty opens up about his crush on fellow teammate and captain, Jack Zimmerman.
This is Part 2 of our spotlight on Stonewall-eligible picture books with queer content. Unlike those mentioned in Part 1, most of the books I’ve selected here break the gender binary (wahoo!). I also threw in two picture books that are unique in their portrayal of same-sex attraction in young children because it’s something I haven’t really seen before.
The number of queer picture books for children is growing each year. I had hoped to cover them all but have since learned that there are even more titles than the 15 we counted before—three cheers for that!! Having too many books to cover is a good thing, right? (On that note, check out Mombian’s fabulous end-of-year-list and other posts if you want even more recommendations.)