Charles and Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith by Deborah Heiligman Henry Holt Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose Melanie Kroupa Books Judged by Jim Murphy
I noticed that last year several Judges opened with confessions of one sort or another. I thought I would follow suit. Confession No. 1: when I first read about Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice and Charles and Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith way back in 2008 my first pained reaction was: what fabulous ideas…why didn’t I think of them!?!? Sadly (for me) but happily (for readers) I had a similar reaction to a number of 2009 nonfiction book ideas. So if you sense envy in my discussion, you’ll know why and forgive me.
Now a fabulous concept does not necessarily make for a fabulous book, but I can honestly report that both Claudette Colvin and Charles and Emma are fabulous, fabulous books. Which leads to Confession No. 2: when I finished reading them I wanted to declare the contest a tie and be done with it. This would help me avoid having to single out one title over the other and disappointing one author. Then I remembered that we’re being paid the big bucks to make these hard decisions (we are being paid big bucks, right?), so I went back for a second and third read….
I’ll begin at the beginning, when I took the books out of their respective envelops. The first was Claudette Colvin and I have to …