November doesn’t just bring beautiful fall colors, crisp air and the celebration of Thanksgiving, it also brings the National Book Awards. Each year, the anticipation grows as the long list of contenders is announced – and it certainly is a long list. There are several categories: fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and young people’s literature which includes both children’s and young adult titles.
Cynthia Kadohata won the 2013 National Book Award in the Young People's Literature category. Kadohata, who is also a Newbery Medal winner, was recognized with this prestigious accolade for her middle-grade novel, “The Thing About Luck.”
Julia Kuo created the illustrations. Atheneum Books for Young Readers published the book in June. The story features a Japanese-American girl named Summer, whose family seems to have one problem after another. If they didn’t have bad luck, they would have no luck at all. Summer and her brother are sent to stay with their elderly grandparents when their mother and father must return to Japan to take care of other aging relatives. Summer’s grandparents must come out of retirement in order to provide for the children. As the family’s stretch of bad luck continues Summer realizes that she is the only one who can change their circumstances and bring them kouun (good luck). With her plans in place, Summer sets out to save her family once and for all.
The four finalists in this category included “The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp” by Kathi Appelt, “Far Far Away” by Tom McNeal, “Picture Me Gone” by Meg Rosoff, and “Boxers & Saints” by Gene Luen Yang. In addition, five other titles were recognized: “Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures” by Kate DiCamillo, “A Tangle of Knots” by Lisa Graff, “The Summer Prince” by Alaya Dawn Johnson, “Two Boys Kissing” by David Levithan, and “The Real Boy” by Anne Ursu.
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