The Bookworm’s Nicole Magistro helped judge this year’s Kirkus Prize literary competition |

The Bookworm’s Nicole Magistro helped judge this year’s Kirkus Prize literary competition

Kirkus Prize finalists


• “The Incarnations,” by Susan Barker (Touchstone/Simon & Schuster)

• “A Manual for Cleaning Women,” by Lucia Berlin (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

• “Fates and Furies,” by Lauren Groff (Riverhead Books)

• “The Story of My Teeth,” by Valeria Luiselli; translated by Christina MacSweeney (Coffee House Press)

• “The Book of Aron,” by Jim Shepard (Alfred A. Knopf)

• “A Little Life,” by Hanya Yanagihara (Doubleday)


• “Between the World and Me: Notes on the First 150 Years in America,” by Ta-Nehisi Coates (Spiegel & Grau)

• “Whirlwind: The American Revolution and the War That Won It,” by John Ferling (Bloomsbury)

• “H is for Hawk,” by Helen Macdonald (Grove Press)

• “The Deluge: The Great War, America and the Remaking of the Global Order, 1916-1931,” by Adam Tooze (Viking)

• “Pacific: Silicon Chips and Surfboards, Coral Reefs and Atom Bombs, Brutal Dictators, Fading Empires and the Coming Collision of the World’s Superpowers,” by Simon Winchester (Harper)

• “The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt’s New World,” by Andrea Wulf (Alfred A. Knopf)

Young readers’ literature

Picture book

• “The New Small Person,” by Lauren Child (Candlewick)

• “Lillian’s Right to Vote: A Celebration of the Voting Rights Act of 1965,” by Jonah Winter; illustrated by Shane W. Evans (Schwartz & Wade/Random House)

Middle grade

• “Echo,” by Pam Munoz Ryan (Scholastic)

• “Funny Bones: Posada and His Day of the Dead Calaveras,” by Duncan Tonatiuh (Abrams)


“The Game of Love and Death,” by Martha Brockenbrough (Levine/Scholastic)

“Shadowshaper,” by Daniel Jose Older (Levine/Scholastic)

Learn more about the Kirkus Reviews Prize at

These days, when people ask The Bookworm of Edwards owner Nicole Magistro what she’s reading, she can point to a huge display in the middle of her store and say, “That!”

All of that?

Yup, every page of 220 books.

Magistro was tabbed as one of the judges in this year’s Kirkus Prize, a literary competition. Reading all of those books was a labor of love, she said — lots and lots of love.

Magistro was a judge in the fiction category.

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Kirkus Reviews is the nation’s leading journal of prepublication book reviews. Winners in the three categories receive $50,000 each, making the Kirkus Prize one of the world’s richest annual literary awards.

Writers become eligible by receiving a rare starred review from Kirkus Reviews and a panel of nationally respected writers, booksellers, librarians and Kirkus critics.

Magistro has judged prize money contests before but never at the national level, she said.

“We’re all very passionate about literature,” Magistro said.

Mentors and friends

She was asked last March to be a judge; a colleague and mentor who owns a bookstore in Wichita, Kansas, recommended her.

They started reading in April.

“I knew it would be a lot of reading,” she said.

They narrowed their selections to six finalists in each category.

“All the books were great. Every one of them,” she said.

They’d all earned a star review from Kirkus, which almost no one earns.

For the first few months, they read as many books as they could and then shared ideas on conference calls.

The calls were cordial and professional, passionate and friendly.

“It’s a respectful group who all love books. For us, it’s essential, as essential as it might be for some to ride their bikes and ski. Books are that essential to me,” she said. “Because there were so many books and we had to select six, we focused on consensus.”

They made an A list and a Maybe list and then set about shortening their A list.

“It is a literary prize, and that’s important to remember. Some prizes are targeted at commercial readership, some at academic readership. … We wanted to tell everyone about these books,” Magistro said.

In her element

Magistro has served on the board of directors for The Literacy Project of Eagle County, Mountains and Plains Independent Booksellers Association and the ABA Task Force for Indie Commerce. She graduated from Northwestern University and earned her bachelor and master’s degrees from the Medill School of Journalism.

Magistro is in some impressive company on the judges panel.

Megan Labrise writes “Field Notes” and features for Kirkus Reviews. Her work has appeared in Edible Hudson Valley, Epicurious, Gourmet Live, Guernica Daily and Salon.

Colson Whitehead is the author of five novels and two books of nonfiction, most recently “The Noble Hustle,” an account of the 2011 World Series of Poker. He writes a column on language for The New York Times Magazine.

Meghan Daum is an opinion columnist for The Los Angeles Times and the author of four books, most recently “The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion,” a collection of original essays exploring themes of sentimentality in American life. She is also the editor of the anthology “Selfish, Shallow & Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not To Have Kids.”

Marie du Vaure was born in Southeast Asia and spent her childhood there and in France. After earning a degree in philosophy and French literature in Aix-en-Provence, France, she moved to the United States and began her career in independent bookselling.

Clayton Moore is a freelance writer, journalist and literary critic whose work has appeared in Kirkus Reviews, The Denver Post, Paste Magazine, Rain Taxi and Bookslut, among many other venues.

Jamie C. Naidoo is an associate and Foster-EBSCO endowed professor at the School of Library & Information Studies at the University of Alabama.

Jon Scieszka is the author of numerous best-selling books for kids and in 2008 was named the nation’s first National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature by the Librarian of Congress. Scieszka is also the founder of Guys Read, a web-based literacy program for boys.

Stephanie Seales holds a Master of Arts degree in Children’s Literature from Simmons College.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and

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