In my personal quest to read at least two National Book Award winners for each of the past ten years, I am closing in on that goal with only two books to go. Below are two winners in the Young People's Literature category.
Colvin was only fifteen years old when she refused to give up her seat on the bus for a white person. She said in an interview for Newsweek magazine that she felt like "Sojourner Truth was pushing down on one shoulder and Harriet Tubman was pushing on the other." So she stayed glued to her seat. The NAACP briefly thought about using her case to bring a lawsuit about the bus segregation, but decided against it because she was so young and she was pregnant.
Little has been written about this hero and her contributions to civil rights, so it delighted me to learn about her from this well-written and highly readable book by Hoose. In addition to this book, Rita Dove, a US Poet Laureate, wrote a poem titled "Claudette Colvin Goes to Work" about this young girl's contributions to civil rights. Her former attorney said that, "Claudette gave us all moral courage. If she had not done what she did, I am not sure that we would have been able to mount support for Mrs. Parks."
I love learning new information about contributions made to important historical events. I recommend this book for that reason.
Summer and her Japanese-American family have been experiencing a year of rotten luck. To start with Summer nearly died from malaria after receiving a bite from an airport mosquito in Florida. Next her parents had to return to Japan to care for elderly relatives, leaving Summer and her brother, Jaz, in the care of their grandparents, Obaachan and Jichan. Jaz loses his only friend and becomes invisible to everyone except his family. And Obaachan and Jichan are forced out of retirement to work the harvest season: Jichan to drive a huge combine, and Obaachan to be the camp cook with help from Summer. Age and infirmity has affected both of them leaving Summer to help out more than she ever has had to before.
The book is a sweet coming-of-age story about a slice of Americana I've no prior knowledge about---groups of farm helpers who travel around the country to harvest the wheat at just the right time before moving on to the next farm. It is grueling work and one that attracts workers from all over the world. Summer uses a journal to make observations about her summer, and possible young love. She also finds a way to shift the family from bad luck to good luck!
As I was reading reviews by other readers on Goodreads so many of the comments were about how boring this book was and how slow the plot with no huge points of excitement or drama. I, on the other hand, delighted in the story and I suspect it is because of the audiobook. Joy Osmanski did a great job reading the parts. The voices she used for Obaachan and Jichan were spot perfect and I found them to be quite humorous. At times as I listened I would laugh out loud. I was very touched by Summer's narration and found the plot interesting and a bit enlightening. I can recommend this book wholeheartedly in this format.