In January 1933, in the depths of the Great Depression, Virginia Kirkus began the Virginia Kirkus Bookshop Service. For a subscription, booksellers and librarians received her reviews of galleys submitted to Kirkus by 20 publishers. Today, Kirkus Reviews, published twice a month, reviews more than 7,000 traditionally published books and 3,000 self-published books annually.
On the evening of October 23, 2014, at a ceremony in Austin, Texas, the first winners of The Kirkus Prize were announced. The award was “created to celebrate the 81 years of discerning, thoughtful criticism Kirkus Reviews has contributed to both the publishing industry and readers at large.” (www.kirkusreviews.com)
The thousand books that received a starred review from Kirkus Reviews during the previous twelve months were eligible for the first Kirkus Prize. Six finalists in each of three categories, Fiction, Nonfiction, and Young Readers’ Literature, were named. Each winner will receive $50,000, making the Kirkus Prize the richest literary prize in the world.
Each of the categories has three "highly regarded judges: a writer, a bookseller or librarian, and a Kirkus critic.” The 2014 Young Readers’ Literature judges were Dr. Claudette S. McLinn, Executive Director at the Center for the Study of Multicultural Children’s Literature and life member of the American Library Association. Linda Sue Park is a Newbery Award-winning author. John Edward Peters is a former career librarian and a Kirkus reviewer.
2014 WINNER: YOUNG READERS' Literature
Aviary Wonders Inc. Spring Catalog and Instruction Manual: Renewing the World’s Bird Supply Since 2031 written and illustrated by Kate Samworth. Clarion, 2014.
Fantasy, 32 pages, Picture Book
Entrepreneur Alfred Wallis capitalizes on the extinction of birds with a catalog of do-it-yourself bird parts and accessories to create one’s own artful automaton.
2014 FINALISTS: YOUNG READERS
El Deafo written and illustrated by Cece Bell. Amulet Books, 2014.
Graphic memoir, 248 pages, Middle-Grade
The author was four when she became deaf after recovering from meningitis. Told with humor,
relates her adventures with a hearing
aid at a school without deaf classes. Bell
The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus by Jennifer Bryant, illustrated by Melissa Sweet. Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2014.
Biography, 40 pages, Picture Book
Peter Mark Roget had a passion for words from childhood. His many lists eventually grew into the thesaurus we still use today in an updated version.
The Key That Swallowed Joey Pigza by Jack Gantos. Farrar, Straus Giroux, 2014.
Realistic Fiction, 154 ages, Middle-Grade
The fifth and final book in the Joey Pigza series has him in charge of his baby brother, his hospitalized mother, and the search for his missing father.
The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of
by K. K. Johnston. Carolrhoda Lab, 2014. Trondheim
Science Fiction and Fantasy, 305 pages, Teen
Sixteen year old Owen Thorskard comes from a long line of dragon slayers.Read Kirkus review
is threatened by dragons that compete with humans for fossil fuels. His grades
are slipping, he’s too small for football, and the town looks to him to save
The Freedom Summer Murders by Don Mitchell. Scholastic Press, 2014.
Nonfiction, 250 pages, Teen
Fifty years ago, in June 1964, three civil rights workers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner, were murdered by the Ku Klux Klan, masterminded by Edgar Ray Killen.