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So, it’s been a week since the ALA Youth Media Awards were announced (you know – Newbery, Caldecott, Printz, etc.) and it’s been a week of discussing and reading opinions on blogs and listserves and the like.   I haven’t actually done any reading of the award winners (cough), but my holds have started rolling in and I’m looking forward to getting started, once I clear one or two things off my shelf (things that absolutely cannot be renewed one more time).

All of the blog reading and discussing has got me thinking about the books that I never get around to reading – the ones that win the not-as-famous awards, the books that are getting some attention but not as much, the awards that get overlooked.  Liz has a post about the Schneider medal, which I noticed (and ordered) this year, but would I have noticed as much if I hadn’t already been familiar with the teen winner, Marcelo in the Real World? And if I hadn’t heard buzz about the middle-school winner, Anything But Typical? I dunno.

Then, oh boy, there are the recent cover controversies – the ongoing issue of characters being depicted as white when they are in fact not.  It’s bad enough when you don’t feel like the cover illustration/photo suits the book or matches the character’s personality, but whitewashing?  Ugh.  Again, Liz has a good overview of the cover issue, and Colleen has passionate summary with plenty of links and some great discussion in the comments.

After toying around with the idea for a while (am I really organized enough?) I thought I’d join the POC Reading Challenge.  While I’d like to think I read books with characters from a variety of racial backgrounds already, this will be a way to make sure.  Plus, as a librarian – as someone who’s ordering books and putting them into the hands of children – I feel some responsibility to make sure there’s access to quality and variety in my collection.  I need to know what’s out there, be able to talk it up, and do my little part to show publishers that variety is needed.

A slightly unrelated goal is to read all of the award winners from this year (I took off the life-time acheivement awards and the Arbuthnot lecture – I’ve read books by all of the winners, so I figure that counts – Walter Dean Myers, Jim Murphy, and Lois Lowry).  Yikes.  Did I just say that?  Let’s see what that list would look like (taking off the ones I’ve already read):

  • “The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg” by Rodman Philbrick
  • “Going Bovine,” written by Libba Bray
  • “The Monstrumologist” by Rick Yancey
  • “Punkzilla” by Adam Rapp
  • “Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal,” written by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson
  • “My People,” illustrated by Charles R. Smith Jr.
  • “The Negro Speaks of Rivers,” illustrated by E. B. Lewis, written by Langston Hughes
  • “The Rock and the River,” written by kekla magoon
  • “Book Fiesta!: Celebrate Children’s Day/Book Day; Celebremos El día de los niños/El día de los libros,” illustrated by Rafael López
  • “Diego: Bigger Than Life,” illustrated by David Diaz, written by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand
  • “My Abuelita,” illustrated by Yuyi Morales, written by Tony Johnston
  • “Gracias Thanks,” illustrated by John Parra, written by Pat Mora
  • “Return to Sender,” written by Julia Alvarez
  • “Federico García Lorca,” written by Georgina Lázaro, illustrated by Enrique S. Moreiro (is this in Spanish?  I might have to cross it off my list – we’ll see when our copy arrives)
  • “Django” written and illustrated by Bonnie Christensen
  • “Anything but Typical” written by Nora Raleigh Baskin
  • “Louise, the Adventures of a Chicken”  written by Kate DiCamillo and narrated by Barbara Rosenblat (audio)
  • “In the Belly of the Bloodhound: Being an Account of a Particularly Peculiar Adventure in the Life of Jacky Faber,” written by L. A. Meyer and narrated by Katherine Kellgren (audio)
  • “Peace, Locomotion,” written by Jacqueline Woodson and narrated by Dion Graham (audio)
  • “We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball,” written by Kadir Nelson and narrated by Dion Graham (audio – I’ve already read the print version)
  • “I Spy Fly Guy!” written and illustrated by Tedd Arnold
  • “Little Mouse Gets Ready,” written and illustrated by Jeff Smith
  • “Mouse and Mole: Fine Feathered Friends,” written and illustrated by Wong Herbert Yee
  • “Pearl and Wagner: One Funny Day,” written by Kate McMullan, illustrated by R. W. Alley
  • “The Day-Glo Brothers: The True Story of Bob and Joe Switzer’s Bright Ideas and Brand-New Colors,” written by Chris Barton, illustrated by Tony Persiani
  • “Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11,” written and illustrated by Brian Floca
  • “A Faraway Island”  written by Annika Thor, translated by Linda Schenck
  • “Eidi,” written by Bodil Bredsdorff, translated by Kathryn Mahaffy
  • “Moribito II: Guardian of the Darkness,” written by Nahoko Uehashi, illustrated by Yuko Shimizu, translated by Cathy Hirano

A mere 29 books!  And several of them are early readers or picture books.  Totally possible.  The question is how long it will take to cross them all off my list.  Also, several will fit into the POC Reading Challenge.

I’m not sure if I’ll attempt the Alex Awards, but that would be a good list to familiarize myself with – and it never hurts to have some adult titles to recommend to adults, too.  So much harder than recommending to kids!  You can tell where I belong.  Here’s the Alex list, in case I’m feeling even crazier:

Alex Awards for the 10 best adult books that appeal to teen audiences

“The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope” by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer, published by William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
“The Bride’s Farewell” by Meg Rosoff, published by Viking Penguin, a member of Penguin Group
“Everything Matters!” by Ron Currie, Jr., published by Viking Penguin, a member of Penguin Group
“The Good Soldiers” by David Finkel, published by Sarah Crichton Books, an imprint of Farrar, Straus and Giroux
“The Kids Are All Right: A Memoir” by Diana Welch and Liz Welch with Amanda Welch and Dan Welch, published by Harmony Books, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House
“The Magicians,” by Lev Grossman, published by Viking Penguin, a member of Penguin Group
“My Abandonment” by Peter Rock, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
“Soulless: An Alexia Tarabotti Novel,” by Gail Carriger, published by Orbit, an imprint of Hachette Book Group
“Stitches: A Memoir” by David Small, published by W.W. Norton & Company
“Tunneling to the Center of the Earth” by Kevin Wilson, published by Harper Perennial, an imprint of HarperCollins

Yes yes, the real deal was announced this morning, but that doesn’t make Mock Printz results any less interesting, does it?  Here is what we read:

I ended up reading All the Broken Pieces the day before the workshop, and most of The Eternal Smile the morning of – and I just couldn’t bring myself to finish the latter.

Going in, there were some titles that I knew I wouldn’t vote for – The Eternal Smile, The Miles Between, Crazy Beautiful, and If I Stay.  Some of those I definitely enjoyed reading and would recommend, but they just didn’t strike me examples of excellence.  But among the rest of the titles, I felt like I could be swayed by discussion.  This is where the mock award workshops get interesting, because so much depends on your small group discussion – who’s in the group and what you end up focusing on in the ten minutes allotted to each title.

My group had three other youth librarians, a library page, and two teens.  There was some real support from the teen boy for Marcelo and Heroes of the Valley, and the Heroes discussion in particular got me thinking.  A few people had minor issues with the ending, but the discussion brought out a lot of the strengths of the book that I’d just jumbled into “liking the book.”  We were mixed on Tales of the Madman Underground – a bunch of people had given up on it, but those that finished it thought it was a strong contender.  No one had any significant criticisms of Marcelo or Wintergirls – not enough to talk us out of them.  We thought All the Broken Pieces was strong but no one really lobbied for it as the best.  North of Beautiful got some love, but those of us in that camp admitted it was more of a “recommend to lots of people” book than a literary success.  We were mixed on If I Stay – one person loved it, but thought it would’ve been better if she hadn’t stayed.  The other three we pretty much dismissed.

Did I mention we were a rowdy group?  We broke almost all the discussion rules (discuss positive first, no personal anecdotes, no comparing to books outside the discussion list) but still had what felt to me like a useful discussion.  In short, a lot of fun was had.  I forgot to write down the point spread, but I think my small group voted Marcelo as the winner with Wintergirls and Heroes as our honors.

Then, the five small groups reconvened, revealed our winners, and large group discussion commenced.  I’m not sure why, but at the Mock Newbery, all of the discussions were fairly sedate.  Maybe it’s the teens that get us more riled up at the Mock Printz, or maybe YA librarians are more argumentative than the rest?  Either way, there was some heated debate, particularly about Tales of the Madman Underground.

Finally, we voted again as a large group.  I switched around my personal votes a lot, mostly because I felt like there were five or so equally deserving books – Marcelo, Wintergirls, North of Beautiful, Heroes of the Valley, and Tales of the Madman UndergroundMarcelo was the only one I voted for both times.  What can I say, I was feeling fickle.  The final results were:

Winner – Marcelo in the Real World (87 points)

Honors – Wintergirls (71) and Tales of the Madman Underground (51)

Interestingly, Marcelo and Wintergirls had a variety of votes – first, second, third – to add up to their higher numbers, while Madman got almost exclusively first place votes.  And, Madman is the only title from our discussion list to be recognized by the real Printz committee (same thing happened last year – The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks got both real and fake honors).  This year’s Printz titles can be found here.

Yes, it’s 6 am and I’m posting, because I actually managed to wake myself up by 4:45 to watch the Youth Media Awards webcast AND get an order in before the library catalog went down!  I feel so accomplished…and tired.  It looks like all the results are up on the individual award pages already – nice and quick.

It seems like ALA finally managed to get a large enough webcast – or whatever you call it when you can let enough people watch it at once.  I got kicked out during the Batchelder announcements and was worried that I wouldn’t be able to get back in, but no problems.  Two years ago, the last time I tried to watch it live, there was no room at the inn.  My only moment of panic was when I went to the bookmarked page and was told that I needed Windows Media Player to watch it – which I didn’t have installed.  A little advance warning would be nice for that sort of thing, especially since the placeholder website had been up for quite a while.  Fortunately I only missed a couple minutes waiting for the download, and got on just in time for the Schneider.

Nothing shocking this year for the Newbery or Caldecott – the only thing I had to order for my library was a second copy of When You Reach Me. We even already had a second copy of The Lion and the Mouse – it was an accidental duplicate, since one librarian ordered it for picture books and another for the folk tale collection, and I remember saying, “hey, maybe it’ll win the Caldecott and we’ll already have our second copy!”  But I’m happy for more than budgetary reasons – it’s a stunner.  And I certainly can’t argue with WYRM, although The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate getting an honor seemed more iffy and was therefore more exciting.

And non-fiction seemed nicely represented across the board.  Claudette Colvin kind of cleaned up, with a Sibert honor and Newbery honor on top of that National Book Award.  The Coretta Scott King author award went to Bad News for Outlaws, the Edwards went to Jim Murphy (I had a little fan girl moment there), Charles and Emma got a Printz honor, We Are the Ship got an Odyssey honor, there were a few bios on the Belpre list…

And YA!  I’ve always said that the Printz is unpredictable – or at least it always surprises me.  Last year – well, 2009 was a golden year for the Printz.  I knew and loved every title on that list.  This year, the only two I’ve read are Charles and Emma and Tales of the Madman Underground, and I’m pleased to see both of them on the list.  I suppose now I’ll have to grit my teeth and read The Monstrumologist (it sounds good, but not my thing – look at that cover!)  And Punkzilla hadn’t been on my radar at all (side note – two YA books mentioning Portland and meth in the awards this year – Flash Burnout is the other.  We’re going to get a great image this way).  Going Bovine – interesting choice!  I’ve heard lots of love for it, but also some meh.

I was pleasantly surprised that my library owns all but 9 of the juvenile titles that got awards or honors (there was a lot of the YA that we didn’t own, but that’s not my department, and I didn’t order the audio books because we do that separately).  I can’t take credit for many of them, since I came in halfway through the year, but I was quite pleased when I recognized all of the Batchelder titles.  Big Wolf and Little Wolf was one of my favorite quirky picture books of the year, and I can take credit for ordering the three fiction titles on the list – Eidi, Moribito II, and A Faraway Island (the winner).  Now I just need to actually read them.

Now, breakfast and coffee or a nap?

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