The 2021 National Book Awards Longlist: Young People’s Literature

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This week, The New Yorker will be announcing the longlists for the 2021 National Book Awards. Check back this afternoon for the list for Translated Literature.

Several titles on the longlist for this year’s National Book Award for Young People’s Literature supply young readers with lessons from the past. Three contenders are works of nonfiction that contextualize seminal moments in American history: “Unspeakable,” by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by Floyd Cooper, is a narration of the Tulsa Race Massacre; Kekla Magoon’s “Revolution in Our Time” documents the community-driven activism of the Black Panther Party and the U.S. government’s attempts to suppress it; and “From a Whisper to a Rallying Cry,” by Paula Yoo, situates the murder of Vincent Chin in the broader story of the Asian American civil-rights movement.

Other books on the longlist pay homage to old storytelling forms. Anna-Marie McLemore’s “The Mirror Season” reimagines Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen” for the present day; “A Snake Falls to Earth,” by Darcie Little Badger, is a coming-of-age story that draws upon Lipan Apache oral traditions; and Shing Yi Khor’s “The Legend of Auntie Po,” which repurposes the legend of Paul Bunyan, brings folktales to the graphic-novel format.

The ten titles on the longlist were chosen from three hundred and forty-four submissions from publishers. Two honorees, Kekla Magoon and Anna-Marie McLemore, have been previously recognized by the National Book Awards. The full list is below.

Safia Elhillo, “Home Is Not a Country
Make Me a World / Penguin Random House

Shing Yin Khor, “The Legend of Auntie Po
Kokila / Penguin Random House

Darcie Little Badger, “A Snake Falls to Earth
Levine Querido

Malinda Lo, “Last Night at the Telegraph Club
Dutton Books for Young Readers / Penguin Random House

Kyle Lukoff, “Too Bright to See
Dial Books / Penguin Random House

Kekla Magoon, “Revolution in Our Time: The Black Panther Party’s Promise to the People
Candlewick Press

Amber McBride, “Me (Moth)
Feiwel and Friends / Macmillan Publishers

Anna-Marie McLemore, “The Mirror Season
Feiwel and Friends / Macmillan Publishers

Carole Boston Weatherford; illustrations by Floyd Cooper, “Unspeakable: The Tulsa Race Massacre
Carolrhoda Books / Lerner Publishing Group

Paula Yoo, “From a Whisper to a Rallying Cry: The Killing of Vincent Chin and the Trial that Galvanized the Asian American Movement
Norton Young Readers / W. W. Norton & Company

The judges for the category this year are Cathryn Mercier, who directs the Center for the Study of Children’s Literature at Simmons University; Pablo Cartaya, the author of “The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora”; Traci Chee, the author of “The Reader”; Leslie Connor, the author of “The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle”; and Ibi Zoboi, the author of “American Street.”



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