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Judge’s Comments for Young Adult Literature Finalists

Jacqueline Woodson was this year’s judge for the Leslie Bradshaw Award in Young Adult Literature. Her comments on this year’s finalists:

NIGHT OF THE HOWLING DOGS by Graham Salisbury: “Salisbury’s story of two boys finding out who they are during a tragic hiking trip, is based on a true story. But that’s not what makes it compelling. That fact that Salisbury made his characters so real and engaging – from page one you’re hoping that Senior patrol leader, Dylan and the troubled Louie not only make it through their camping trip on the Hawaiian coast but that their differences move toward some sort of friendship. At once compelling and frightening, Salisbury’s story is ultimately and tale of survival, support and friendship.”

PEAK by Roland Smith: “Smith’s tale of a 14 year old Peak’s climb of Mount Everest is as convincing as it is compelling. The author took us on a journey from New York to Thailand to Mount Everest and at no point did I doubt that I was a part of this trip. The simplicity of language and convincing characters made this a book that will long be remembered.”

THE RULES FOR HEARTS by Sara Ryan: “Battle Hall Davies summer is full of possibility. It’s also heaped in disappointment and Ryan isn’t afraid to give us a character steeped in drama and confusion. How appropriate to set this sequel to EMPRESS OF THE WORLD among a houseful of theater people. But even through the drama, Battle’s voice is clear and strong. As Battle begins to see her beloved brother for who he truly is, and through this, moves deeper into the world of adulthood, Ryan delivers an important story about the fluidity of sexuality, the struggle to be an artist, and the crazy and confusing ways of the human heart.”

A TASTE FOR RABBIT by Linda Zuckerman: “The physical and emotional struggles between the world of fox and rabbits becomes the story of Quentin the Rabbit and Harry the Fox – each a bit rabbit-ty and foxy in their own way but also conscious of a greater good (Harry, perhaps a little less so). This is a deeper story though – it is about societies and hierarchies and the dangers of not seeing beyond your own worlds. It is a sometimes brutal story, a sometimes very funny story, a sometimes heartbreaking story. Above all else though, it is an important tale. A warning – gentle, hopeful and sincere.”

Woodson selected The Rules for Hearts and A Taste for Rabbit as winners in this category.

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