Are you looking for a great book to share with a kid in your life? (Psst—you will love them, too!) Dig into the four finalists for this year’s New-York Historical Society Children’s History Book Prize, a celebration of the best in American history literature for middle-grade readers, ages 9–12. Throughout the next few weeks, visit us here on the blog to meet each of the authors and hear more about their writing process. Most importantly, vote in our online reader poll (live in April) to help us choose this year’s winning book!
What are the 2019 finalists?
This year our four finalists include fiction and nonfiction books spanning three centuries and featuring protagonists male and female, old and young, and from diverse backgrounds.
In alphabetical order:
Fighting for the Forest by P. O’Connell Pearson
One of President Franklin Roosevelt’s first New Deal projects was the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), which put hundreds of thousands of Americans back to work during the Great Depression. The CCC constructed or improved hundreds of state and national parks, restored nearly 120 million acres of land, and planted some 3 billion trees. The narrative is focused on the experiences of those who served with helpful background information provided in boxed featurettes. An informative, inspiring look at desperate times and how government can achieve great things through good leadership. – Kirkus Review, June 23, 2019
Last of the Name by Rosanne Parry
Twelve-year-old Danny O’Carolan and his older sister, Kathleen, escape hunger and oppression in Ireland for the promise of a new life in America. But life in 1863 New York City is scarcely better for two orphans trying to find their way in the world. The only work available is that of a lady’s maid and a laundress. Danny gamely dons a dress in hopes of passing as a girl, but he lives for the mornings when he can escape into the city and be himself and earns pennies for his dancing and singing. Familiar historical events are given new life through Danny’s wide-eyed optimism and Kathleen’s determination. And while the principals are Irish, their neighborhood boasts as diverse a population as modern Manhattan. – Kirkus Review, Jan. 15, 2019
Never Caught: The Story of Ona Judge by Erica Armstrong Dunbar & Kathleen Van Cleve
A young enslaved woman escapes bondage in the household of George and Martha Washington. Ona Judge was the daughter of a white indentured servant, Andrew Judge, and an enslaved woman, Betty, on the Mount Vernon plantation, becoming Martha’s personal maid. In 1796, Martha Washington decided to give Ona as a wedding present to her granddaughter—but Ona made her escape by ship to Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Despite hardship, Ona Judge remained free, thwarting the most powerful man in America. Dunbar, whose adult version of this story was a National Book Award finalist, and co-author Van Cleve have crafted a compelling read for young people. – Kirkus Review, Nov. 26, 2018
This Promise of Change by Jo Ann Allen Boyce & Debbie Levy
An autobiographical account in verse of a teen pioneering school desegregation in the South. Jo Ann Allen lives up on a hill with the other black residents of Clinton, Tennessee. They travel to Knoxville to attend the black schools, but in 1956, two years after the Brown v. Board of Education decision, a judge in Knoxville tells Clinton officials that they must integrate immediately. Jo Ann is one of 12 black students who enroll in the all-white Clinton High School. With co-author Levy, she tells her story of that year in poems grouped by her relationship to her town. – Kirkus Review, Sept. 30, 2018
Out of Left Field by Ellen Klages – Winner 2018
Fred Korematsu Speaks Up by Laura Atkins and Stan Yogi (Authors), Yutaka Houlette (Illustrator) – Winner 2017
Unbound: A Novel in Verse by Ann E. Burg – Winner 2016
By Alice Stevenson