As revealed on January 17th, the winner for 2012 is Jack Gantos' Dead End in Norvelt (FSG, 2011), which — yes — also took home the 2012 Newbery Medal. Read more at School Library Journal.
This morning, I opened up my issue of Shelf Awareness and found a fantastic, very funny interview with Gantos that you can find here (scroll 2/3 down the page). The novel's set during the summer of 1962, in Gantos's home town of Norvelt, Pennsylvania, a federally planned New Deal town named after Eleanor Roosevelt. The Q&A has some great discussion points on the nature of historical fiction, homestead communities, and using real people as characters.
A short quote from Jennifer M. Brown's interview:
JB: When you won the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction last week, we had to pause before realizing--ah yes, the setting is the summer of 1962, and it is historical fiction!Did you realize that if you go by the (somewhat arbitrary) definition that historical novels are set 50+ years in the past, that this now includes the early '60s? When I first started getting interested in the field, I remember talking to some readers my grandmother's age who were taken aback that WWII-era fiction was considered "historical." They lived through that era and remembered it well. Now that date range has moved ahead by a couple of decades.
JG: That's, let's see, exactly 50 years ago. I think you can get antique license plates for a 1962 car. Somebody said, "How does it feel to be given an award for a historical novel where you're the main character?" When you put it that way, I'm feeling a little crusty.
There are advantages to working in a library with a curriculum materials center. After reading about both awards, I searched in our online catalog to see whether we had a copy of Dead End in Norvelt - and we did! And it was available and on display with other award winners. So I grabbed it.