Excellence in Nonfiction

Excellence in Nonfiction

The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) Award for Excellence in Nonfiction honors the best nonfiction book published for young adults (ages 12-18).

Award Web Site: YALSA's Award for Excellence in Nonfiction

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Author: Rex Ogle
2020 Excellence in Nonfiction - Winner

A distinctive new voice: Rex Ogle's story of starting middle school on the free lunch program is timely, heartbreaking, and true. Free Lunch is the story of Rex Ogle's first semester in sixth grade. Rex and his baby brother often went hungry, wore secondhand clothes, and were short of school supplies, and Rex was on his school's free lunch program. Grounded in the immediacy of physical hunger and the humiliation of having to announce it every day in the school lunch line, Rex's is a compelling story of a more profound hunger -- that of a child for his parents' love and care. Compulsively readable, beautifully crafted, and authentically told with the voice and point of view of a 6th-grade kid, Free Lunch is a remarkable debut by a gifted storyteller.

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Author: Albert Marrin
2020 Excellence in Nonfiction - Honor

From National Book Award Finalist Albert Marrin comes the moving story of Janusz Korczak, the heroic Polish Jewish doctor who devoted his life to children, perishing with them in the Holocaust.

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Author: Elizabeth Wein
2020 Excellence in Nonfiction - Honor

Documents the contributions of Soviet airwomen during World War II, examining the formation, obstacles, missions, and legacy of Russia's female combat pilot regiments.

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Author: Lynn Curlee
2020 Excellence in Nonfiction - Honor

With striking portraits and bold prose, Curlee details the life of the prodigal dancer Vaslav Nijinsky, who, unencumbered by sexuality and gender norms, rapidly ascended to stardom before tragically succumbing to mental illness. Curlee pushes the boundaries of the traditional young-adult biography with extravagant design and uncompromising frankness.

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Author: Deborah Heiligman
2020 Excellence in Nonfiction - Honor

A true account of the attack and sinking of the passenger ship SS City of Benares, which was evacuating children from England during WWII.
 

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Author: Don Brown
2019 Excellence in Nonfiction - Winner

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.

Author: Elizabeth Partridge
2019 Excellence in Nonfiction - Honor

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.

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Author: Jarrett J. Krosoczka
2019 Excellence in Nonfiction - Honor

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.

Author: Sonia Sotomayor
2019 Excellence in Nonfiction - Honor

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.

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Author: John Hendrix
2019 Excellence in Nonfiction - Honor

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.

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Author: Deborah Heiligman
2018 Excellence in Nonfiction - Winner

The bond between brothers was never stronger. Drawing on their lifelong correspondence, Heiligman plumbs their journey from an ascetic upbringing in a Protestant parsonage to the auction houses of Europe as Theo develops business acumen, all the while supporting volatile Vincent’s groundbreaking artistic endeavors both materially and emotionally. Their devotion to each other was so profound that there could have been no Vincent van Gogh without Theo. 

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Author: Marc Aronson
2018 Excellence in Nonfiction - Honor

Meet Robert Capo and Gerda Taro, young refugees and fearless pioneers of photojournalism, who documented the savagery of the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s. In capturing a struggle against fascism that presaged World War II, their body of work reflects the evolution of photography as a journalistic medium. Aronson and Budhos use the two as a springboard to an expansive look at a forgotten conflict whose political and philosophical ramifications captured the attention of the world. 

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2018 Excellence in Nonfiction - Honor

Edited by Mary Beth Leatherdale and Lisa Charleyboy and published by Annick Press

The editors present a stereotype-busting, zine-like collection of personal essays, illustrations, and photos from and about the marginalized experiences of indigenous young women. This energetic showcase of contemporary lives demonstrates the strength and vitality of living heritages through a rich, visually stunning riot of art and memoir.

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Author: Dashka Slater
2018 Excellence in Nonfiction - Honor

In the news: an agender teen falls asleep on an Oakland city bus. A black teen sets their skirt on fire. Two young lives, forever entwined because of proximity in a moment, eventually spark an entire community’s shift towards restorative justice.

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Author: Martin Sandler
2018 Excellence in Nonfiction - Honor

Cinematic portrayals of the high seas can’t touch the rollicking realities of life aboard the Eighteenth century ship, The Whydah. This transporting look at the peculiar society of the piratical brotherhood, peppered with first-hand accounts, has much to tell us about successful maritime strategies for maintaining a reign of terror, the Whydah’s wreck and the house-to-house search it inspired, and the truths that artifacts recovered from its discovery off Cape Cod revealed about the golden age of piracy in the American colonies.