2019 Nonfiction Award Nominations

In addition to the finalists and award winner, YALSA publishes a list of vetted nominations for the Nonfiction Award. Seals for nonfiction nominees are available in the ALA Store and may be purchased in bulk. Click YALSA's Award Seals webpage for more information.

** denotes winner

* denotes finalists

2019 YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction

Official Nomination List

1968: Today’s Authors Explore a Year of Rebellion, Revolution, and Change, edited by Marc Aronson
With contributions from such well-known authors as Paul Fleischman, Elizabeth Partridge, Marc Aronson, and Jim Murphy, this compilation discusses the revolutionary "air" of 1968, not only in the United States, but also in Paris, Mexico, and China.

Americanized: Rebel Without a Green Card, by Sara Saedi.
As an undocumented teen, Sara tries to find the humor in life, while also balancing her desire for a normal life in the face of potential deportation.

ATTUCKS! Oscar Robertson and the Team that Awakened a City, by Philip Hoose
In the 1950s, when Indianapolis was as segregated as the deep south and basketball was king, an all-black high school team works to not only become state champions, but also change local attitudes.

Back from the Brink, by Nancy Castaldo
Books on animal extinction tend to be a bit grim, yet Castaldo’s title provides a glimpse into how human intervention can work, as she examines the journey of a number of species that have almost vanished from the planet! Yet, the author is firm in her admonition that “at the brink” is not the journey these animals should be experiencing!

Becoming Kareem: Growing Up On and Off the Court, by Kareem Abdul-Jabarr
Who is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Much more than a basketball icon! At once a student of Bruce Lee, friend of Muhammad Ali, the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, a Basketball Hall of Fame inductee, coach, civil rights activist, Sherlock Holmes fan, and actor and author, he is now also a US global cultural ambassador and a recipient of
the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

*The Beloved World of Sonia Sotomayor, by Sonia Sotomayor
A portrait of determination and strength, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor describes her rise from a trying childhood in the South Bronx. Offering full credit to those who helped along the way, this beloved Justice offers gentle advice for young readers.

Blacklisted, by Larry Dean Brimner
In 1947, 10 Hollywood personalities, summoned to appear before the House Un-American Activities Committee for “suspected” Communist connections, refuse to testify. As a result, they are convicted of Contempt of Congress and blacklisted from the movie business!

Bonnie and Clyde: The Making of a Legend, by Karen Blumenthal
The lifestyle of a gangster is hell, not glamour, as Blumenthal denotes in this narrative detailing two very violent, very sad, very disturbed individuals attempting to survive childhood poverty, societal norms, and the Great Depression: Parker and Clyde Barrow.

*Boots on the Ground: America's War in Vietnam, by Elizabeth Partridge. A chronological account of the Vietnam War as experienced at home and in the field, from a wide variety of perspectives. Stories of eight young soldiers are highlighted by means of personal interviews and thoughtfully chosen photographs.

Coco Chanel, by Susan Rubin
Both the poorhouses of France, as well as the high-fashion districts of Paris, are introduced in this chronicle of the life of iconic fashion designer, Coco Chanel. Chanel is portrayed by Rubin as a mysterious and sometimes “cold” personality, yet hard-working and ingenious in her approach to fashion design.

Crash: The Great Depression and the Rise and Fall of America, by Marc Favraeu
Spanning the 1930s, Favraeu chronicles the downfall of the U.S. stock market—which pivoted the country into the Great Depression—and accounts the historic events and figures that contributed to the crash.

D-Day: The World War II Invasion That Changed History, by Deborah Hopkinson
Books on D-Day abound, yet only a few lay out the facts in such a way that teens will be riveted. Hopkinson’s book is such a one, as well-chosen photos and fascinating stories put the reader in the thick of the action. Readers virtually “watch” this pivotal strategy of WWII play out, crippling the Nazis.

Deep Dark Blue: A Memoir of Survival, by Polo Tate.
Air Force Cadet Tate is none too pleased about losing her identity as a human being (social times, short hair, constant put-downs), but enters a state of emotional dysfunction when sexually abused by violent superiors.

Eleanor Roosevelt: Fighter for Justice, by Ilene Cooper
Cooper’s recent biography focuses on Roosevelt’s years as a crusader for civil rights and civil liberties, recounting her efforts as tireless champion of the underdog.

Facing Frederick: The Life of Frederick Douglas, A Monumental American Man, by Tonya Bolden
Peppered with quotes from Frederick Douglass and his contemporaries, and illustrated with photographs, daguerreotypes, and drawings, Bolden has crafted a must-read biography of one of the best known African-American abolitionists, authors, newspaper owners, and speakers.

*The Faithful Spy, by John Hendrix
A true and gripping spy story, this graphic biography describes pivotal moments in the career of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, whose religious faith led him to devote his life to the German Resistance to Hitler. Visual metaphors in the powerful illustrations convey the looming danger.

Feathered Serpent, Dark Heart of Sky, by David Bowles
Bowles conveys the history of Mexico via cultural myths.

Google It! A History of Google, by Anna Crowley Redding.
Redding’s glimpse into a technology giant introduces the people and events associated with Google’s creation, growth, and world-changing approach to business and development.

*Hey, Kiddo: How I Lost My Mother, Found My Father, and Dealt with Family Addiction, by Jarrett Krosoczka.
A raw graphic memoir, author-illustrator Jarrett J. Krosoczka depicts his complex upbringing - including a search for his father, difficult interactions with his heroin-addicted mother, and day-to-day life with his grandparents. Illustrations–ample in gray, burnt orange, and earth tones–conjure the feeling of vague memories.

Life Inside My Mind: 31 Authors Share Their Personal Struggles, by Jessica Burkhart
This collection of short stories brings mental health issues to the forefront by means of 31 deeply personal, moving, and insightful recollections.

Life on Surtsey: Iceland’s Upstart Island, by Loree Griffin Burns.
This “Scientist in the Field” selection follows five days of field research on Surtsey, a new island formed off the coast of Iceland during a volcanic eruption in 1963. A nearly pristine world allows scientists and an entomologist the opportunity to discover the origin and development of life on Planet Earth.

March Forward, Girl: From Young Warrior to Little Rock Nine, by Melba Patillo Beals
As high school students all over the country embrace activism, this autobiographical memoir by one of the Little Rock Nine, Melba Pattillo Beals, divulges what it takes to stand up and speak out.

Mary Shelley: The Strange True Tale of Frankenstein’s Creator, by Catherine Reef
Frankenstein is celebrating a 200-year birthday. While his history is important, his creator’s life is even more so. Read Reef’s title to hear Mary Shelley’s story told in exquisite prose, making this work of non-fiction a pleasure to read. Teens will be intrigued with Mary’s time with the famous poet, Percey Shelley, an experience which led her to create the most famous monster of all time.

More Deadly than War: The Hidden History of the Spanish Flu and the First World War, by Kenneth Davis
The Spanish Flu actually had nothing to do with Spain other than it did finally spread to that country. It started in America, and it came out of nowhere. This book reveals the spread of the disease, how the circumstances surrounding WWI worsened its impact, how it ebbed and flowed for quite a time, and how few were spared. This history will be one teens cannot put down.

My Family Divided: One Girl’s Journey of Home, Loss, and Hope, by Diane Guerrero
A successful actress describes how her happy childhood ended at 14 when her undocumented parents were deported to Columbia and she was left on her own.

Nevertheless, We Persisted, edited by Amy Klobuchar
Persistence takes many forms, and these essays offer perspectives of facing and overcoming life’s varying challenges.

Notorious RBG: Life and Time of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, by Irim Carmon
Detailing the unique story of RBG (Ruth Bader Ginsburg), Carmon’s story is told in a powerful, humorous voice and delivered via a most creative layout.

Photographic: The Life of Graciela Iturbide, by Isabel Quintero.
This graphic novel portrays the life of prolific photographer Graciela Iturbide, also incorporating many of her iconic photographs.

Spooked!, by Gail Jarrow
Spooked details a radio broadcast from 1938 gone awry. H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds (depicting a Martian invasion) was coming true - or so many thought!

The Disappearing Spoon and other True Tales of Rivalry, Adventure, and the History of the World, by Sam Kean
Who knew the construction of the periodic table was defined by economics, nationalism, society, gossip, bigotry, betrayal!? Not to mention, science. Kean’s young readers’ edition will enlighten those who have never imagined the “drama” entrenched within scientific discovery.

The Girl Who Drew Butterflies, by Joyce Sidman.
At a time when women could not and did not enter into intellectual pursuits (17th Century Germany), Maria Merian defied tradition, studying and illustrating insects (particularly butterflies and moths) in a manner and style which even modern-day entomologists model.

The Grand Escape: The Greatest Prison Breakout of the 20th Century, by Neal Bascomb
Prisoners of War plot to escape one of the harshest German prisons of the World War I era, digging a miles-long tunnel under the very ground on which stood the feet of their oppressive guards.

The Hyena Scientists, by Sy Montgomery.
Montgomery and Bishop visit a field camp in Masai Mara, Kenya, where Michigan State University zoologist Kay Holecamp and her assistants reverse the much-maligned stereotype associated with spotted hyenas, discovering and sharing with the world the many positive qualities of this species.

The Wilhelm Gustloff Story, by Michael Capek
A closer look at the German passenger ship which hoped to carry thousands of Jewish refugees to safety prior to a catastrophic attack near the end of World War II.

Things We Haven’t Said, edited by Erin Moulton
This anthology is a valuable resource of hope, grit and honest conversation that will help teens tackle the topic of sexual violence, upend stigma and maintain hope for a better future.

Unpunished Murder: Massacre at Colfax and the Quest for Justice, by Laurence Goldstone
A noted adult historian chronicles federal efforts to deny equal justice under the law to African-Americans in the aftermath of the 1873 massacre of over a hundred freedmen in Colfax, Louisiana.

**The Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian Refugees, by Don Brown.
Unwanted by their own country, unwanted by other countries, Syria’s refugees are between a rock and a hard place. Staying in Syria is far too dangerous – violence is constant and pervasive. Leaving Syria is fraught with peril - crossing the desert, falling victim to con artist smugglers, and fatal journeys by boat.

Votes for Women! American Suffragists and the Battle for the Ballot, by Winifred Conkling
Starting with the childhood of Elizabeth Stanton, and ending with the vote which allowed women the right to vote in the United States, Conkling's narrative non-fiction provides the human stories behind the suffragist movement: parades, picketing, prohibition, and Alice Paul!

Walking is a Way of Knowing, by Madhuri Ramesh
Authors Ramesh and Chandi journey to the Anamalai Hills of South India and "walk" in the wisdom of the Kadars, a forest-dwelling, hunter-gatherer tribe whose knowledge may prove crucial to the survival of our planet.