See more of the story

Twenty-seven judges — librarians, teachers and other book lovers — deliberated Saturday to come up with this year's Minnesota Book Award finalists.

The list includes familiar names and former award winners — novelist Marlon James, poet-turned-children's-book writer Bao Phi, memoirist and picture book writer Kao Kalia Yang, and children's novelist Anne Ursu.

But the group included plenty of unknowns and first-time authors. Here are the finalists, four each in nine categories.

Children's literature, sponsored by Books for Africa:

"A to Zåäö: Playing With History at the American Swedish Institute," by Nate Christopherson and Tara Sweeney (University of Minnesota Press); "My Footprints," by Bao Phi, illustrated by Basia Tran (Capstone Editions); "Home in the Woods," by Eliza Wheeler (Nancy Paulsen Books); "A Map Into the World," by Kao Kalia Yang, illustrated by Seo Kim (Carolrhoda Books).

Fiction, sponsored by the College of St. Benedict/St. John's University:

"Stray," by Nancy J. Hedin (Nine­Star Press); "This Tender Land," by William Kent Krueger (Atria Books); "Evidence of V: A Novel in Fragments, Facts, and Fictions," by Sheila O'Conner (Rose Metal Press); "Suicide Woods," by Benjamin Percy (Graywolf Press).

General nonfiction:

"Eight Years to the Moon: The History of the Apollo Missions," by Nancy Atkinson (Page Street Publishing Co.); "America for Americans: A History of Xenophobia in the United States," by Erika Lee (Basic Books); "Consider the Platypus: Evolution Through Biology's Most Baffling Beasts," by Maggie Ryan Sandford, illustrations by Rodica Prato (Black Dog & Leventhal); "The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present," by David Treuer (River­head Books).

Genre fiction, sponsored by Mac­alester College:

"Nothing More Dangerous," by Allen Eskens (Mulholland Books); "The Body Keeper," by Anne Frasier (Amazon Publishing/Thomas & Mercer); "Black Leopard, Red Wolf," by Marlon James (Riverhead Books); "Ice Cold Heart," by P.J. Tracy (Crooked Lane Books).

Memoir and creative nonfiction, sponsored by Bradshaw Celebration of Life Centers:

"All the Wild Hungers," by Karen Babine (Milkweed Editions); "Magical Realism for Non-Believers: A Memoir of Finding Family," by Anika Fajardo (University of Minnesota Press); "The Twenty-Ninth Day: Surviving a Grizzly Attack in the Canadian Tundra," by Alex Messenger (Blackstone Publishing); "The Memory House," by Raki Kopernik (Muriel Press).

Middle grade, sponsored by Education Minnesota:

"The Line Tender," by Kate Allen (Dutton); "The Missing Piece of Charlie O'Reilly," by Rebecca Ansari (Walden Pond Press); "A Tear in the Ocean," by H.M. Bouwman, illustrated by Yuko Shimizu (Putnam); "The Lost Girl," by Anne Ursu (Walden Pond).

Minnesota nonfiction:

"Walking the Old Road: A People's History of Chippewa City and the Grand Marais Anishinaabe," by Staci Drouillard (University of Minnesota Press); "Slavery's Reach," by Christopher Lehman (Minnesota Historical Society Press); "Closing Time: Saloons, Taverns, Dives, and Watering Holes of the Twin Cities," by Bill Lindeke and Andy Sturdevant (Minnesota Historical Society Press); "Tulips, Chocolate & Silk," by Marguerite Ragnow and Natasha D'Schommer (James Ford Bell Library).

Poetry, sponsored by Wellington Management Inc.:

"A Bony Framework for the Tangible Universe," by D. Allen (Kin(d) Texts and Projects); "Mitochondrial Night," by Ed Bok Lee (Coffee House Press); "Bodega," by Su Hwang (Milkweed Editions); "Safe Houses I Have Known," by Steve Healey (Coffee House Press).

Young adult literature, sponsored by United Educators Credit Union:

"Cracking the Bell," by Geoff Herbach (Katherine Tegen Books); "Catfishing on CatNet," by Naomi Kritzer (Tor Teen); "The Stars and the Blackness Between Them," by Junauda Petrus-Nasah (Dutton); "Last Things," by Jacqueline West (Greenwillow).

The winners will be announced at 8 p.m. April 28 at the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in St. Paul. The winners of the Hognander Award, the Kay Sexton Award and the Minnesota Book Artist award will be honored as well.

Tickets are $45 and will go on sale at noon on Monday on the Ordway website.

Laurie Hertzel • 612-673-7302 Twitter: @StribBooks