ALA has released the titles for the inaugural William C. Morris Award, which honors a book written for young adults by a first-time, previously unpublished author. Bill Morris was a terrific person and advocate for teens and their books. He was also the first publisher I met when I joined ALAN and the first to let me crash a cocktail party. Here’s to Bill and his legacy!

A Curse Dark As Gold
by Elizabeth C. Bunce
published by Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic (9780439895767)

This supernatural novel retells the story of Rumpelstiltskin, setting it at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution and centering it around the life of Charlotte Miller. When the bank wants to repossess her mortgaged mill, Charlotte strikes a bargain with the mysterious Jack Spinner, (a creature who knows the art of turning straw into gold), but then discovers she must free her loved ones from a generations-old curse.

by Kristin Cashore
published by Harcourt/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (9780152063962)

In the Seven Kingdoms, those born with eyes of two different colors are Gracelings who develop intense and powerful skills. Katsa’s Grace is killing, and she serves as King Randa’s enforcer until she and Prince Po join forces to solve the riddle of his grandfather’s kidnapping. The closer they get to the answer and to each other, the more dangerous their quest becomes.

Absolute Brightness
by James Lecesne
published by HarperTeen/ Laura Geringer Books (9780061256288)

When Phoebe’s flamboyant, effeminate cousin, Leonard, moves to her New Jersey town, he brings a confusing mix of beauty and irritation as he inserts himself into the day-to-day running of her mother’s beauty parlor business and Phoebe’s life at school. When Leonard disappears, seemingly without a trace, Phoebe embarks on a mission to uncover the truth, and confronts first-hand the price Leonard paid for being different.

by Christina Meldrum
published by Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books (9780375851766).

Fifteen-year-old Aslaug was raised in isolation by a mother who was both strange and ill. Her mother’s death brings an onslaught of new experiences as Aslaug must learn to cope with the unwanted attention of the police, relatives she never knew she had, and multiple charges of murder.

Me, the Missing, and the Dead
by Jenny Valentine
published by HarperTeen (9780060850685)

Sixteen-year-old Londoner Lucas Swain, on a whim, decides to take a cab home and happens upon an urn with the ashes of Violet Park in the taxi office. He feels the spirit of Violet leading him through a maze of layered clues, as he bit by bit solves the puzzle of his father’s disappearance more than five years ago.

Congrats to the finalists! The winner will be announced Jan. 26, 2009 at ALA Midwinter.

Written by : thunderchikin

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