2009 Finalists: Non-Fiction Middle Grade & Young Adult Books

Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice
by Phillip Hoose
Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Nominated by: Elaine

Phillip Hoose’s Claudette Colvin tells the story of a remarkable yet largely unknown civil rights figure.  In March 1955, nine months before the famous Rosa Parks incident, fifteen-year-old Claudette Colvin refused to give up her seat to a white woman on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Alabama, and was arrested and jailed.  What’s more, Colvin went on to serve as a star witness in the landmark court case that ended segregation of city buses.  The compelling narrative–much of which is told in Colvin’s own words–includes plenty of historical context and is complemented by riveting photographs, newspaper clippings, maps and sidebars.

Frog Scientist, The
by Pamela S. Turner, photographs by Andy Comins
Houghton Mifflin
Nominated by: Laurie Thompson

The Frog Scientist follows UC Berkeley researcher Tyrone Hayes through his field and lab experiments in pesticide exposure. With eye-catching photography–and without falling into preachiness–the book explores the scientific process, explains the implications of Hayes’ work, and shows an African-American scientist and his family at work.

I Can’t Keep My Own Secrets: Six-Word Memoirs by Teens Famous & Obscure
by Larry Smith and Rachel Fershleiser
Nominated by: Erin McIntosh

Inspired by Ernest Hemingway’s famous six-word short story (“For Sale: Baby shoes, never worn.”), the editors of Smith Magazine challenged readers to create their own six-word memoirs. I Can’t Keep My Own Secrets is a compilation of nearly 800 very short pieces written by teenagers. Creative, chilling, humorous, inspiring–and ultimately honest–these glimpses into others’ lives will stick with the reader far beyond the brief moment it takes to read the words on the page.

Marching For Freedom: Walk Together Children and Don’t You Grow Weary
by Elizabeth Partridge
Nominated by: Jen Lehmann

This visually stunning book examines the role that children played during the voting rights struggle, particularly the 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery.  The gripping story line, supplemented with large black-and-white photographs, follows several children and teens as they march and protest, and are arrested and subjected to horrific violence.  Despite the odds against them, these children organized and acted to change their lives and their future–and they won.

Written in Bone: Buried Lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland (Exceptional Social Studies Titles for Intermediate Grades)
by Sally M. Walker
Carolrhoda Books
Nominated by: Loree Griffin Burns

Written In Bone
takes readers along the journey as scientists uncover skeletons and other artifacts from colonial-era Virginia and Maryland.  We learn not only about the skeletons themselves, but also about the way of life during this often brutal and even deadly time period.  Photos, maps, diagrams, and historical documents add to the engaging text, which may inspire kids to explore careers in forensic anthropology.