New England Book Awards

Janet Clapp

Autumn in New England means colorful foliage and the announcement of the New England Independent Booksellers Association (NEIBA) New England Book Award winners. NEIBA considers books written by New England authors or that take place in New England. Here are some recent winners.

Before the Fall
by Noah Hawley
“Everyone has their path. The choices they’ve made. How any two people end up in the same place at the same time is a mystery. You get on an elevator with a dozen strangers. You ride a bus, wait in line for the bathroom. It happens every day. To try to predict the places we’ll go and the people we’ll meet would be pointless.” When a private plane crashes into the ocean after taking off from Martha’s Vineyard, artist Scott Burroughs and a four-year-old boy are the only two to survive. “He surfaces, shouting. It is night. The salt water burns his eyes…In his brain are images and sounds. A sudden downward pitch. The panicked stench of burning metal. Screams.” In this novel, Hawley reveals the lives of the characters before the crash as well as the aftermath. (2016 fiction winner)

Blue Horses
by Mary Oliver
“I get confused. / The washer asks me, do you want regular or delicate? / Honestly, I just want clean.” Poet Oliver held the Catharine Osgood Foster Chair for Distinguished Teaching at Bennington College and lived for many years in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Her simple poems speak of life and nature. “The oak tree / loves patience, / the mountain is / still looking,”. (2015 fiction winner)

The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration
by Isabel Wilkerson
“A railing divided the stairs onto the train, one side of the railing for white passengers, the other for colored, so the soles of their shoes would not touch the same stair. He boarded on the colored side of the railing, a final reminder from the place of his birth of the absurdity of the world he was leaving.” Boston University journalism professor Wilkerson uses the stories of individuals to describe the history of the Great Migration. “Over the course of six decades, some six million black southerners left the land of their forefathers and fanned out across the country for an uncertain existence in nearly every other corner of America. The Great Migration would become a turning point in history. It would transform urban America and recast the social and political order of every city it touched.” (2011 nonfiction winner)

Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?
by Roz Chast
“One way to tell that you’re still in Child Mode with your parents is when you want to impress them, even when you’re thirty or forty or fifty years old. Maybe you just want them to be happy for you, or maybe you’re looking to settle an old score. It could be both!” In this funny yet poignant memoir, written and drawn in comic format, Connecticut resident Chast reflects on the difficult relationship she had with her parents, particularly the challenges she faced as they aged. “Any Florence Nightingale-type visions I ever had of myself — an unselfish, patient, sweet, caring child who happily tended to her parents in their old age — were destroyed within an hour or so.” (2014 nonfiction winner)

The Penderwicks at Point Mouette
by Jeanne Birdsall
“Although everyone wanted to stop and explore each new sight, especially the rambling wooden Moose Market with a colossal stone bull moose out front, his dignity not at all impaired by the FRESH PIES sign hanging off his antlers, they wanted even more to rush on, eager to see where they’d be living for the next two weeks.” Massachusetts author Birdsall’s chapter book for children tells the fun story of three sisters, a boy and a dog spending a delightful summer vacation in Point Mouette, Maine. (2011 children’s winner)

City Dog, Country Frog
words by Mo Willems, pictures by Jon J. Muth
“City Dog was new to the country, so Country Frog taught him Country Frog games.” Massachusetts resident Willems wrote this touching picture book in which a dog and a frog play together. The beautiful watercolor illustrations portray friendship throughout the seasons. (2010 children’s winner)

The Rutland Free Library has all of these books and many other award-winning titles to enjoy. For a full list of past New England Book Award winners, visit the NEIBA website

Happy reading!

Janet Clapp

Janet Clapp is an adult services librarian at Rutland Free Library.

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