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The William C. Morris YA Debut Award, first awarded in 2009, honors a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens and celebrating impressive new voices in young adult literature.
The award's namesake is William C. Morris, an influential innovator in the publishing world and an advocate for marketing books for children and young adults. Bill Morris left an impressive mark on the field of children’s and young adult literature. He was beloved in the publishing field and the library profession for his generosity and marvelous enthusiasm for promoting literature for children and teens.
The William C. Morris YA Debut Award celebrates the achievement of a previously unpublished author, or authors, who have made a strong literary debut in writing for young adult readers. The work cited will illuminate the teen experience and enrich the lives of its readers through its excellence, demonstrated by:
Compelling, high quality writing and/or illustration
The integrity of the work as a whole
Its proven or potential appeal to a wide range of teen readers
2021 William C. Morris Award Winner and Honor Books
Living in a house that magically conceals the damage inflicted by her volatile father’s rampages, Leighton Barnes finds nothing strange in the thousands of crows descending on her town. As tensions mount in town and at home, she struggles with simultaneously wanting to escape and to protect her mother and younger sisters. Through haunting, lyrical prose McCauley builds a devastatingly authentic tale of intergenerational trauma and violence and society’s “blind eye” that perpetuates it.
In this beautifully written, unflinching tale, Brown relays her wizarding journey of hope and self-awareness as a young Black woman growing up on Cleveland’s East Side. Using magical realism, Brown explores the intersection of racism, poverty, sexual assault, and intergenerational trauma, as well as the strength and power that women wield as they navigate these challenges.
Set against the LA riots in 1992, this historical yet timely novel follows Ashley through her senior year at her predominantly white, privileged school and wealthy neighborhood. Pulling away from her white friends, she gravitates towards the group of black students and identifies how racial bias, microaggressions, and her own complicity shape her relationships at home and school. Hammonds Reed’s honest, vivid descriptions of a city in chaos mirror Ashley’s own journey as her detached tone begins to crumble on her path toward growth and awakening.
Devastating acne during her adolescence left Natalie with low self-esteem. Now, as if the news of her parents’ divorce isn’t enough, Natalie feels like a third wheel with her best friends, is anxious about an unknown future after high school, and is confused by romantic feelings for her best friend's brother. A surprising romance begins, challenging Natalie to examine the kind of person her acne has formed her into versus who she really is. Told with snarky humor and vulnerability, Kenwood examines the often confusing yet empowering transition into adulthood.
After the Indigenous Llacsans rebel and overthrow Illustrian rule, Ximena’s people are forced into exile. When the Llacsan king demands Illustrian Condesa’s hand in marriage, Ximena takes her place, intending to spy for the Illustrians and relay information to them through beautifully woven tapestries made from moonlight. This lush and descriptive story celebrates Bolivian culture and history while highlighting the impact of colonization.
2020 William C. Morris Award Winner and Honor Books
Norris Kaplan is clever, cynical, and quite possibly too smart for his own good. A Black French Canadian, he knows from watching American sitcoms that those three things don’t bode well when you are moving to Austin, Texas.
Fatima lives in the city of Noor, a thriving stop along the Silk Road. There the music of myriad languages fills the air, and people of all faiths weave their lives together. However, the city bears scars of its recent past, when the chaotic tribe of Shayateen djinn slaughtered its entire population -- except for Fatima and two other humans. Now ruled by a new maharajah, Noor is protected from the Shayateen by the Ifrit, djinn of order and reason, and by their commander, Zulfikar.
High school senior Frank Li is caught between his parents' traditional expectations and his own Southern California upbringing. His parents have one rule when it comes to romance: 'Date Korean. But Frank falls for Brit Means, who is smart, beautiful-- and white. Joy Song is in a similar predicament, and they make a pact: they'll pretend to date each other in order to gain their freedom. It seems like the perfect plan, until their fake-dating maneuver leaves Frank wondering if he ever really understood love- or himself- at all. -- adapted from jacket
There are ninety-six things Genesis hates about herself. She knows the exact number because she keeps a list. Like #95: Because her skin is so dark, people call her charcoal and eggplant--even her own family. And #61: Because her family is always being put out of their house, belongings laid out on the sidewalk for the world to see. When your dad is a gambling addict and loses the rent money every month, eviction is a regular occurrence. What's not so regular is that this time they all don't have a place to crash, so Genesis and her mom have to stay with her grandma. It's not that Genesis doesn't like her grandma, but she and Mom always fight--Grandma haranguing Mom to leave Dad, that she should have gone back to school, that if she'd married a lighter skinned man none of this would be happening, and on and on and on. But things aren't all bad. Genesis actually likes her new school; she's made a couple friends, her choir teacher says she has real talent, and she even encourages Genesis to join the talent show. But how can Genesis believe anything her teacher says when her dad tells her the exact opposite? How can she stand up in front of all those people with her dark, dark skin knowing even her own family thinks lesser of her because of it? Why, why, why won't the lemon or yogurt or fancy creams lighten her skin like they're supposed to? And when Genesis reaches #100 on the list of things she hates about herself, will she continue on, or can she find the strength to begin again?
The Age of Darkness approaches. Who will stop it... or unleash it? For generations, the Seven Prophets guided humanity. Using their visions of the future, they ended wars and united nations-- until they disappeared a hundred years ago. All they left behind was one final prophecy, foretelling an Age of Darkness and the birth of a new Prophet who could be the world's salvation-- or the cause of its destruction. Will it be a prince exiled from his kingdom? A ruthless killer known as the Pale Hand? A once-faithful leader torn between his duty and his heart? A reckless gambler with the power to find anything or anyone? Or a dying girl on the verge of giving up? -- adapted from jacket
2019 William C. Morris Award Winner and Honor Books
Darius Kellner speaks better Klingon than Farsi, and he knows more about Hobbit social cues than Persian ones. He’s a Fractional Persian—half, his mom’s side—and his first-ever trip to Iran is about to change his life. Darius has never really fit in at home, and he’s sure things are going to be the same in Iran. His clinical depression doesn’t exactly help matters, and trying to explain his medication to his grandparents only makes things harder. Then Darius meets Sohrab, the boy next door, and everything changes. Soon, they’re spending their days together, playing soccer, eating faludeh, and talking for hours on a secret rooftop overlooking the city’s skyline. Sohrab calls him Darioush—the original Persian version of his name—and Darius has never felt more like himself than he does now that he’s Darioush to Sohrab.
Her mother died when she was twelve, and suddenly Artemisia Gentileschi had a stark choice: a life as a nun in a convent or a life grinding pigment for her father's paint. She chose paint. By the time she was seventeen, Artemisia did more than grind pigment. She was one of Rome's most talented painters, even if no one knew her name. But Rome in 1610 was a city where men took what they wanted from women, and in the aftermath of rape Artemisia faced another terrible choice: a life of silence or a life of truth, no matter the cost. He will not consume my every thought. I am a painter. I will paint.
Eric Bittle may be a former junior figure skating champion, vlogger extraordinaire, and very talented amateur pâtissier, but being a freshman on the Samwell University hockey team is a whole new challenge. It is nothing like co-ed club hockey back in Georgia! First of all? There's checking (anything that hinders the player with possession of the puck, ranging from a stick check all the way to a physical sweep). And then, there is Jack--his very attractive but moody captain.
They killed my mother. They took our magic. They tried to bury us. Now we rise. Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie's Reaper mother summoned forth souls. But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope. Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good. Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy.
After losing her family and everything she knew in the Nazi concentration camps, Gerta is finally liberated, only to find herself completely alone. Without her Papa, her music, or even her true identity, she must move past the task of surviving and onto living her life. In the displaced persons camp where she is staying, Gerta meets Lev, a fellow teen survivor who she just might be falling for, despite her feelings for someone else. With a newfound Jewish identity she never knew she had, and a return to the life of music she thought she lost forever, Gerta must choose how to build a new future.
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