Monday, May 14, 2007

Gonna Go Back in Time: The Edgar Awards

I need to work on my children's mystery and detective stories knowledge, so I was thrilled to discover that the Edgar Awards recognize juvenile and young adult novels. Since 1946, the Mystery Writers of America have recognized outstanding mystery and detective novels, short stories, biographies, television shows, movies, and other categories. The first Best Juvenile award was given in 1961, and the first Best Young Adult award was given in 1989.

Richard Peck's Dreamland Lake was nominated for Best Juvenile in 1974. Two young boys discover a homeless person's dead body in the woods. This sets off a chain of events that lead to the boys meeting a classmate obsessed by the Nazis. This is a quick read with a very unsettling ending. Peck's humor runs rampant through the book, though, and would be a good choice for a reluctant reader (bear in mind that cursing is sprinkled throughout the book).

Virginia Hamilton won the 1969 Best Juvenile award for The House of Dies Drear. An old house, the Underground Railroad, and a mysterious (and occasionally frightful) elderly man obsessed with the house make a family's move into the house very strange and scary. This is one of the weirdest books I have read, but I could not put it down. I don't know of many children's mysteries involving African Americans, so this is a welcome find (Hamilton is also known for her work in African American folklore).

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