The Norton Award and Middle Grade Books

December 13, 2012 | Reading, Writing

Andre Norton Award SealThis post is part of the Norton Award Blog Tour.

The “Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy,” given annually by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), is actually an award for both young adult and middle grade fiction, despite the official title. If you look at the list of Norton Award finalists and winners since the award’s creation, you’ll see a number of wonderful middle grade books:

  • Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor (Finalist 2012)
  • The Boy at the End of the World by Greg van Eekhout (Finalist 2012)
  • Flora Segunda (Finalist 2008) and Flora’s Dare (Winner 2009) by Ysabeau S. Wilce
  • The Freedom Maze by Delia Sherman (Winner 2012)

  • The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente (Winner 2010)
  • Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword by Barry Deutsch (Finalist 2011)
  • Savvy by Ingrid Law (Finalist 2009)
  • The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex (Finalist 2008)
  • When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead (Finalist 2010)

And here are a few more books that straddle the line between middle grade and young adult:

  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows by J.K. Rowling (Winner 2008)
  • The King of Attolia (Finalist 2007) and A Conspiracy of Kings (Finalist 2011) by Megan Whelan Turner
  • Leviathan (Finalist 2010) and Behemoth (Finalist 2011) by Scott Westerfeld

It’s clear that middle grade fiction plays an important and robust role in the science fiction and fantasy fields. For many readers, these books will be a gateway to young adult sf, and sometimes directly into adult science fiction and fantasy.

On a personal note, these were the books that saved me when I was a kid. I found them at a time in my life when I was in desperate need of hope and heroes. I needed to read about Meg in A Wrinkle in Time, about the wonderful balloon creations in The Twenty-One Balloons, about Milo and Tock in The Phantom Tollbooth. I read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and started looking for portals to other worlds.

Except… I’d already found them. Books were my portals, as they are for so many kids growing up in difficult situations. They let me dream of other worlds where even the least powerful kid could make a difference.

So please, don’t forget about middle grade science fiction and fantasy. For many kids, these books are the first step on their road to a better, science-fiction-and-fantasy-filled life.

Nominating Books for the Norton Award

Active, Lifetime Active, and Associate SFWA members in good standing are eligible to cast a 2012 Nebula Awards Nomination Ballot. The nominating period is open from November 15, 2012 to February 15, 2013 11:59pm PST.

My first middle-grade book, Above World, is eligible.

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