Children’s, Juvenile, & Young Adult Literature Finalist Reading

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The Colorado Book Awards annually celebrates Colorado’s outstanding literary achievement by commending the accomplishments of its authors, editors, illustrators, and photographers. In this free public reading, finalists will read from their work and attendees can pose questions. Select finalist books will be available for purchase at the readings and through Poor Richard’s Books & Gifts at poorrichardsdowntown.com.

Children’s Literature Finalists
If Tigers Disappeared
Lily Williams
What would happen if tigers disappeared? Find out in this fifth book in the award-winning If Animals Disappeared series that imagines the consequences of a world without tigers. There are nine subspecies of tigers, but three are now extinct. They play a very important role in keeping nature in balance, but due to expanding human populations, poaching, and more, they’re in danger. Join Lily Williams as she tracks the devastating reality of what our world might look like without tigers. Lily Williams is the author and illustrator of If Sharks Disappeared, If Polar Bears Disappeared, If Elephants Disappeared, and If Bees Disappeared. She grew up in Northern California where she received her BFA from California College of the Arts. Lily seeks to inspire change, engage audiences, and educate people of all ages with her artwork. She lives west of Denver.

Swim, Jim!
Kaz Windness
Jim the crocodile is scared of swimming—or rather, of sinking. His family’s swamp is just too deep, too dark, and too big. But maybe he could swim, if only there were a smaller swamp where he could try it on his own terms. Jim wiggle-waggles far and wide until he finds the perfect place. With the help of some floaties and his sisters, Jim just might find the courage to face his fear and show everyone—including himself—that Jim can swim! Kaz Windness is an author-illustrator who loves to make her readers laugh. When she’s not writing or illustrating books, Kaz teaches illustration at the Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design. She’s the author of 15 picture books, including Bitsy Bat, School Star, and Worm and Caterpillar Are Friends. Kaz lives in Thornton.

Jean Reidy and Lucy Ruth Cummins
One small spider takes a big risk to bring together the people she watches over in her apartment building in this charming picture book from the celebrated author and illustrator of Truman. Jean Reidy’s bestselling and award-winning picture books have earned their spots as favorites among readers and listeners of all ages and from all over the world. Her books include Truman and Sylvie, both illustrated by Lucy Ruth Cummins. She is a three-time winner of the Colorado Book Award, a Parents’ Choice Gold Award winner, a Charlotte Zolotow Honor winner, and recognized on “Best of” lists by School Library Journal, The New York Times, NPR, and Amazon. Jean lives in Greenwood Village.

Juvenile Literature Finalists
Dad’s Girlfriend and Other Anxieties
Kellye Crocker
Dad hasn’t even been dating his new girlfriend that long, so Ava is sure that nothing has to change in her life. That is, until the day after sixth grade ends, when Dad whisks her away on vacation to meet The Girlfriend and her daughter in terrifying Colorado, where even the squirrels can kill you! Managing her anxiety, avoiding altitude sickness, and surviving the mountains might take all of Ava’s strength, but at least this trip will only last two weeks. Right? Kellye Crocker is a journalist who has written for Better Homes and Gardens, Parents, and Glamour. She holds an MFA in writing for children and young adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts and a BA in news-editorial from the Missouri School of Journalism. She lives in Denver.

Middle School: Safety Goggles Advised
Jessica Speer and Lesley Imgart
Yes, there are cool things about middle school, like more independence, new friends, and new activities. But there’s baffling stuff too, like harsh judgment, the whole “popularity” thing, and, of course, drama. Jessica Speer is the award-winning author of BFF or NRF (Not Really Friends)? A Girls Guide to Happy Friendships. Blending humor, a dash of science, stories, and insights, her writing unpacks the social stuff that peaks during adolescence. She has a master’s degree in social sciences and explores topics in ways that connect with kids. Jessica is regularly featured in and contributes to media outlets on topics related to kids, teens parenting, and friendship. Lesley Imgart is an illustrator/artist/writer based in Edinburgh. In her autobiographical work, Lesley documents sincere observations, funny conversations, and anything else that feels important.

Sisterhood of Sleuths
Jennifer Chambliss Bertman
Maizy always assumed she knew everything about her grandmother, Jacuzzi. So, when a box full of vintage Nancy Drew books gets left at her mom’s thrift store, Maizy is surprised to find an old photo of her grandmother and two other women tucked beneath the collection. Determined to learn the truth — and inspired by the legacy of Nancy Drew — Maizy launches her own investigation with the help of new friends, Nell and Cam. This intergenerational mystery filled with literary history, friendship, and family secrets delivers a captivating tribute to the world’s most famous girl detective. Jennifer Chambliss Bertman is the New York Times bestselling author of the Book Scavenger series and the picture book A Good Deed Can Grow, illustrated by Holly Hatam. Jennifer holds an MFA in Creative Writing and lives in Erie.

Totality! An Eclipse Guide in Rhyme and Science
Jeffrey Bennett
This book features a unique combination of rhyme and science that makes it suitable for a wide range of ages. The book includes a glossary, suggested activities, and an eclipse science summary — features that will add particular value for parents and teachers learning along with their students or kids. Astrophysicist/educator Jeffrey Bennett is the author of numerous books, including college textbooks in astronomy, astrobiology, mathematics, and statistics, books for the general public, and six previous books for children. All six children’s books have won numerous awards, including the American Institute of Physics Science Communication award and have been read by astronauts aboard the International Space Station for the Story Time From Space program. Dr. Bennett lives in Boulder.

Young Adult Literature Finalists
Azar on Fire
Olivia Abtahi
Fourteen-year-old Azar Rossi’s first year of high school has mostly been silent, and intentionally so. After a bad case of colic as a baby, Azar’s vocal folds are shredded—full of nodules that give her a rasp the envy of a chain-smoking bullfrog. When she hears about a local Battle of the Bands contest, it’s something she can’t resist. Azar loves music, loves songwriting, but with her vocal folds the way they are, there’s no way she can sing her songs on stage. Growing up in the DC area, Olivia devoured books and hid in empty classrooms during school to finish them. Her debut novel, Perfectly Parvin, was published in 2021 by Penguin Random House Putnam Books for Young Readers, receiving the SCBWI Golden Kite Honor, and YALSA Odyssey Honor, and numerous starred reviews. She lives in Denver.

Bright Ruined Things
Samantha Cohoe
The only life Mae has ever known is on the island, living on the charity of the wealthy Prosper family who control the island’s magic and its spirits. Mae longs for magic of her own and to have a place among the Prosper family, where her best friend, Coco, will see her as an equal, and her crush, Miles, will finally see her. As Mae and her friends unravel the mysteries of the island, and the Prospers’ magic, Mae starts to question the truth of what her world was built on. Samantha Cohoe writes historically-inspired young adult fantasy. She was raised in San Luis Obispo, California and divides her time among teaching Latin, mothering, writing, reading, and deleting adverbs. A Golden Fury is her debut novel, and she lives in Denver.

Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves
Meg Long
A lone girl determined to survive. The feral wolf she must learn to trust. Only one chance to escape their icy planet: a race across the deadly tundra. As the girl and the wolf forge a tenuous bond and fight to escape ice goblins, giant bears, and the ruthless gang leader intent on trapping them both, one question drives them relentlessly forward: Where do you turn when there is nowhere to hide? Meg Long was born and raised in Louisiana and taught middle and high school for eight years before jumping to the tech industry as a content writer. Cold the Night, Fast the Wolves is her debut novel, and she lives in Lakewood.

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