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The YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction honors the best nonfiction book published for young adults (ages 12-18) during a November 1 – October 31 publishing year.

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The notorious Benedict Arnold : a true story of adventure, heroism, & treachery Juvenile Book The notorious Benedict Arnold : a true story of adventure, heroism, & treachery

Sheinkin, Steve.
J BIO ARNOLD SHEINKI

Treating history as mystery, Sheinkin takes readers through means, motive, and opportunity as he outlines Arnold’s path towards treason. This well researched (with liberal use of primary sources) cradle to grave biography emphasizes the political, social, and military issues within the Colonial army and how Arnold ambitiously maneuvered his own career through grit and determination.

2012 Winner



Music was it : young Leonard Bernstein Juvenile Book Music was it : young Leonard Bernstein

Rubin, Susan Goldman.
J BIO BERNSTE RUBIN

Rubin entices readers with her lively account of the challenging and passionate life of young Leonard Bernstein, beginning with his childhood in Boston and concluding with his brilliant conducting debut, at the age of twenty-five, at Carnegie Hall with the New York Philharmonic. A short epilogue relates the remainder of Bernstein's memorable life. A timeline, brief biographies of friends and colleagues, a discography, a bibliography, sources of quotations, photo credits and permissions, and an index add to the informative value of this fascinating glimpse into the formative years of a musical genius.

2012 Finalist



Wheels of change : how women rode the bicycle to freedom (with a few flat tires along the way) Juvenile Book Wheels of change : how women rode the bicycle to freedom (with a few flat tires along the way)

Macy, Sue.
J 796.6082 MACY

With the invention of the bicycle, women began by riding sidesaddle but quickly switched to riding astride sleek two-wheelers as they left their restraining corsets and petticoats in the dust with bloomers their preferred bicycling outfit. Adventurer or activist, young or old, African American or white, many women quickly adopted this new mode of transportation. As the period photographs, colorful advertisements, sidebars, and primary source material proclaim, bicycles empowered women to seek the freedom they’d long been denied.

2012 Finalist



Sugar changed the world : a story of magic, spice, slavery, freedom, and science Teen Book Sugar changed the world : a story of magic, spice, slavery, freedom, and science

Aronson, Marc.
TEEN 664.109 ARONSON

Blending facts with a fascinating personal narrative, this true tale of the sugar trail provides readers with an intimate and troubling portrait of the white grains that sweeten everything from their coffee to their bubblegum. The authors use both their own family histories and as many individual accounts as possible to demonstrate that sugar changed the course of commerce, government, slavery, invention and immigration. This complex and challenging history is supported by sharp black and white photos (with links to color images) and detailed source notes.

2012 Finalist



Bootleg : murder, moonshine, and the lawless years of prohibition Teen Book Bootleg : murder, moonshine, and the lawless years of prohibition

Blumenthal, Karen.
TEEN 363.4109 BLUMENT

This impeccably researched account of the history of the Temperance movement provides an interesting look at the societal issues and historical figures behind the passage of the 18th Amendment. Blumenthal also describes the unintended consequences of gangsters (including the famous Al Capone) committing alcohol-related crimes, as well as adults and children ignoring the law to bootleg and smuggle during the 13 years it was in effect. Black and white photos, archival materials, and a glossary enhance this engaging and readable work.

2012 Finalist



Janis Joplin : rise up singing Teen Book Janis Joplin : rise up singing

Angel, Ann, 1952-
TEEN BIO JOPLIN ANGEL

From her humble beginnings in a small town in Texas to her marquee life as a superstar of '60s rock, Janis Joplin remains an icon of music. Despite her short life, she left an indelible impression on the music of an era.

Winner 2011



The dark game : true spy stories Juvenile Book The dark game : true spy stories

Janeczko, Paul B.
J 327.73 JANECZK

This compilation of different spies carries readers from the Revolutionary War through the infamous Cold War era. Delve into stories about the Choctaw Code Talkers of WWI, Soviet moles, Mata Hari and more as you uncover just how they changed the course of history.

2011 Finalist



Spies of Mississippi : the true story of the spy network that tried to destroy the civil rights movement Teen Book Spies of Mississippi : the true story of the spy network that tried to destroy the civil rights movement

Bowers, Rick, 1952-
TEEN 323.1196 BOWERS

In 1958, the state of Mississippi began an undercover operation, The Sovereignty Commission, to spy on and potentially squelch the Civil Rights movement. Bowers' expose of this unknown organization reveals the extent to which some were willing to go to see segregation remain the law of the state.

2011 Finalist



They called themselves the K.K.K. : the birth of an American terrorist group Teen Book They called themselves the K.K.K. : the birth of an American terrorist group

Bartoletti, Susan Campbell.
TEEN 322.4209 BARTOLE

Bartoletti provides readers with an in-depth look at the formation of the KKK and its subsequent evolution into a violent organization. With primary source material, she details the horrific history of the Ku Klux Klan and the people who fell victim to its reign of terror.

Finalist 2011



Charles and Emma : the Darwins' leap of faith Teen Book Charles and Emma : the Darwins' leap of faith

Heiligman, Deborah.
TEEN BIO DARWIN HEILIGM

After creating a list of the pros and cons of marriage, science-minded Charles Darwin chooses to marry his strictly religious first cousin. Little does he know that he is about to embark upon the most loving, creative, and intellectually important relationship of his life.

2010 Winner



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