Alex Awards


‘The Alex Awards are given to ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18. The winning titles are selected from the previous year’s publishing. The Alex Awards were first given annually beginning in 1998 and became an official ALA award in 2002.” From the YALSA Website


night circus

Morgenstern, Erin. The Night Circus.  Doubleday,  2011. 400 pages. $28.95 ISBN-13: 978-0385534635

A mysterious circus travels the world at the end of the 1800’s and is the venue of a magical competition between Marco and Celia.

Fantasy Fiction

Age Range: 15 and up

Rating: 4 out of 5 for quality, 4 out of 5 for popularity

Locus Award for Best First Novel, 2012

ALA Alex Award, 2012

Mythopoeic Fantasy Award Nominee for Adult Literature, 2012

Celia is sent to her father the magician at age 6 and almost immediately is signed up for a competition of magic and illusion as her father’s player. When or how the competition will begin is unknown, as is the identity of her competitor.  The story follows her competitor, Marco and soon the competition begins, the venue a travelling circus that opens only at night and follows no set schedule. Celia works there as an illusionist, but Marco must set up his feats of magic and illusion from afar. The descriptions are beautiful  and rich, the plot slow and meandering. This book is lovely and a perfect autumnal read. It won an Alex award because while the characters are adults, the appeal to a teen audience is obvious with its dark, mysterious setting and the forbidden love of the two competitors. The Cover art is appealing, but I have wanted to read this circus book since it came out, and was so excited to have it be a book I could read for a class on award winning books. It also won an award by an organization devoted to promoting literature and the study of the works of the Inklings, which makes it even more appealing to me.


Jonathan strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clark

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Book Discussion Questions

  1. How does the author create such a magical environment, how does the circus make it more mysterious?
  2. It seems like the death of the characters was inevitable, did they escape it? What do you think happens to them?


There is magic in this book, Illusions and fantastical gardens held together in a circus that is a goth dream. Everything is in black and white, magic and mystery is everywhere.


Author Website

Article about author in the StarTribune



Knisley, Lucy. Relish: my life in the kitchen. Turtleback, 2013. 176 pages.  $30.60. ISBN-13: 978-0606324311

Lucy tells the story of her life through her foodie experience in this series of comics.

Genre: Graphic Memoir

Age Range: 14 and up

Rating: 5 out of 5 for quality, 3 out of 5 for popularity.

Alex Award, 2014

Lucy Knisley was raised by foodies, her mother an excellent chef and caterer, her father a lover of all things fine.  She writes these fun comic chapters to illustrate the importance of food in her life, and to give omage to her mother, especially. Raised first in New York City and then in Upstate New York, Lucy developed tastes for both complex, rich, unusual foods, as well as the McDonald’s French fry. Her stories are sweet and funny, the illustrations perfect for the lighthearted and earnestness of her voice. Each chapter has an illustrated recipe at the end which add to the design and complete feeling of the book: she is trying to pass on her love of food to the reader. Although written for adults, this memoir is perfectly suited to young adults and even children (my 5 year old is enjoying it and requesting it over and over).


Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi

Calling Dr. Laura: A graphic memoir by Nicole J. Georges

They Draw and Cook: 107 Recipes Illustrates by Nate Padavick and Salli Swindell

Book Discussion

  1. How effective is the life story through food stories? How does it help you get to know the character?

Book Talking.

Here is a book for food lovers and comic book fans. Also, learn how to make chai.

Author website

Interview with the Graphic Novel Reporter

Castles and Cooks Interview