2021 Finalists: High School Nonfiction


Everything You Wanted to Know About Indians But Were Afraid to Ask: Young Readers Edition
by Treuer, Anton
Levine Querido
Nominated by: Deb Nance at Readerbuzz

Everything You Wanted to Know About Indians but Were Afraid to Ask: This candid, conversational, illuminating text invites readers to ask questions and question assumptions about Native American culture, history, and lived experience. In an engaging Q-and-A format, Ojibwe author and professor Anton Treuer encourages teen readers to venture into a frank and informative dialogue about an expansive array of questions like “What is the real story about Columbus,” “What are kachinas,” and “What’s it like for Natives who aren’t part of a recognized tribe?” Treuer’s lively narrative voice unpacks sensitive topics with grace, and he provides a range of resources for further exploration.

Melissa Wiley, Here in the Bonny Glen

In the Shadow of the Moon: America, Russia, and the Hidden History of the Space Race
by Cherrix, Amy
Balzer + Bray
Nominated by: Terry Doherty

Great nonfiction books both answer questions and pose them. Amy Cherrix’s In The Shadow of the Moon provides a fascinating account of the American and Soviet space programs in the context of their political rivalries. She focuses on two engineers, Wernher von Braun and Sergei Korolev, one a former SS officer and one a former prisoner of a Russian gulag, challenging readers to evaluate the decisions made by each government about what information to share and what to hide. Propaganda and technicalities are clearly explained as she follows the exciting developments and achievements of both programs so the readers can make their own judgements about what sacrifices are worthwhile.

Beth Mitcham, Library Chicken

Punching Bag
by Ogle, Rex
Norton Young Readers
Nominated by: Jenna

Rex Ogle’s mother and stepfather physically and emotionally abused him when he was a child. In his second memoir, Punching Bag, he describes unimaginable incidents that are a terrible reality for far too many children. An alcoholic stepfather who continues the cycle of abuse that he experienced as a child himself. An unstable mother who is both victim and abuser. A younger brother who must be protected at all costs. A younger sister, Marisa, whom his mother lost in a late-term miscarriage after a particularly brutal beating. Yet Ogle’s message is ultimately one of hope. Thoughts of Marisa, who never got a chance at life, guide him through his most difficult days. As he writes in his author’s note, “I lived this, I survived. You survived your past too, or you wouldn’t be here reading this. We are both alive. We may have a few more scars than we’d like—inside or out—but we made it through. No matter how dark the past, or even the present, the sun will always come up tomorrow. There is hope.” He accordingly refers readers to appropriate resources and hotlines at the end of the book. Teens in similar situations are sure to relate to Ogle’s life story—and find reasons to carry on.

Jennifer Giberga, Introverted Reader

The Power of Style
by Allaire, Christian
Annick Press
Nominated by: ChristaS

THE POWER OF STYLE: Vibrant. Colorful. Empowering. Inclusive. These are just a few of the words we used to describe this unique book. The Power of Style seamlessly pieces together history, culture, and fashion with themes of acceptance, body positivity, and social justice. The beautiful photographs are an invitation to explore and make the book approachable … even for those who aren’t fashionistas!

Terry Doherty, The Reading Tub

The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks: Adapted for Young People
by Jeanne Theoharis, adapted by Brandy Colbert and Jeanne Theoharis
Beacon Press
Publisher/ Author Submission

If you think that Rosa Parks was an old lady with tired feet, read this book.
In The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks: Young Readers’ Edition, the authors, Jeanne Theoharis and Brandy Colbert, illuminate this activist’s lifelong resistance to injustice.
Eleven years before Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of the bus, she worked on bringing attention to the rape of Recy Taylor, a young Black mother in Abbeville, Alabama. Ten years after the Montgomery bus boycott, she began her career in Michigan’s Congressman John Conyers’s office. Between 1965 and her death in 2005, she rebelled against injustice including organizing against Detroit police violence, advocated for reparations to Black people for the injustices of slavery and segregation and called for US businesses to divest from the South African apartheid government.
Mrs. Rosa Parks never tired of standing up for what was right. She trusted young people to do the same.

Julie Neitz Wielga , Partners in Literacy