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Here’s the National Book Awards’ 2019 longlist for young people’s literature

Akwaeke Emezi
Akwaeke Emezi’s novel “Pet,” centering on a transgender teen, made the 2019 longlist for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature.
(Elizabeth Wirija)

Murder, World War II and genderqueer zombies all play roles in the stories selected for the 2019 longlist for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature.

On Monday, the National Book Foundation unveiled 10 titles in contention for this year’s prize. Despite their youthful target demographic, many of the works tackle complex themes with topics spanning global politics, loss, race and gender identity.

Six of the authors up for the award — Cynthia Kadohata, Jason Reynolds, Kwame Alexander, Laura Ruby, Laurie Halse Anderson and Akwaeke Emezi — have garnered previous recognition from the foundation, as well as accolades including the Coretta Scott King Book Awards, the Newbery Medal, the Caldecott Honor, the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, the Eisner Award, the Walter Dean Myers Award, the NAACP Image Award, the Michael L. Printz Award, the Pulitzer Prize and Emmy Awards.

Emezi’s debut novel for young readers, “Pet,” follows a transgender teen living in a dystopia plagued by monsters. Alexander’s poem “The Undefeated” functions as a real-world tribute to black trailblazers in sports, arts and civil rights. More contenders feature narratives tackling issues ranging from Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs to Pearl Harbor and its aftermath.

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The foundation will announce finalists Oct. 8 and winners at the private National Book Awards ceremony and benefit dinner Nov. 20 in New York City. See the full list below.

Kwame Alexander; illustrations by Kadir Nelson,The Undefeated”
Versify / Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Laurie Halse Anderson, “SHOUT”
Viking Books for Young Readers / Penguin Random House

Akwaeke Emezi, “Pet”
Make Me a World / Penguin Random House

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Cynthia Kadohata; illustrations by Julia Kuo, “A Place to Belong”
Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books / Simon & Schuster

Jason Reynolds, “Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks”
Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books / Simon & Schuster

Randy Ribay, “Patron Saints of Nothing”
Kokila / Penguin Random House

Laura Ruby,Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All”
Balzer + Bray / HarperCollins Publishers

Martin W. Sandler, “1919: The Year That Changed America”
Bloomsbury Children’s Books / Bloomsbury Publishing

Hal Schrieve, “Out of Salem”
Triangle Square / Seven Stories Press

Colleen AF Venable and Ellen T. Crenshaw, “Kiss Number 8"
First Second Books / Macmillan Publishers


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