Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice wins the NBA and goes viral

This year's short list for the National Book Award for Young People's Literature had not one, but two non-fiction titles. Very, very exciting. Both fantastic books: Charles and Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith by Deborah Heiligman, and Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose.

[Late breaking correction!! Since I originally posted this, several people have pointed out that the short list actually has three non-fiction titles. I was so captivated by the graphic novel aspect of Stitches by David Small, I completely overlooked that it's a memoir. I wonder if the judges looked at their short list and, we've come down three non-fiction titles. Is this okay? Will people say this list is unbalanced?]

Unlike many other awards, the committees for the NBA are made up of authors. Two years ago I chaired the Young People's Literature committee, and I'll tell you: deciding which are the "best" books of the year is incredibly difficult. It's relatively easy to start winnowing, but it gets harder and harder as the list gets shorter. In order to prevent leaks, the NBA committees meet for lunch on the very day of the awards to choose their winner. In my year, a rumor flashed around the banquet hall as we gathered for the award ceremony that the adult non-fiction committee was still out in the hall, duking it out.

 This year's Young People's Literature award went to Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice. I can't even begin to tell you how fantastic this book is. Well researched. Beautifully written. Compelling. And the best part: it has, suddenly and without warning, shifted our view of history, and put Claudette Colvin into her rightful place in the civil rights struggle. Her story has gone viral, on the Newshour, and in the New York Times.