Tuesday, February 3, 2015

ALA Youth Media Awards

If you are a fan of literature for young people (and I must assume you are; otherwise, I'm not sure what you're doing here), yesterday was a big day for you. It was for me. I, like many fans of young people's lit, tuned into the live webstream of the announcement of this year's Youth Media Awards, the most prestigious awards for children's literature in our country. For the last few years, I've shared my thoughts on the outcome of the awards and I'd like to again this year. Once again, I may not cover every award; for a complete list of the awards and winners, please go here.

Alex Awards: 0/10 read - another year with nothing read, which once again surprises me. I feel like I read a significant amount of adult books last year, but I guess not the ones with teen appeal. I do have a copy of Everything I Never Told You languishing in my TBR pile, so hopefully I can get to that one soon.

Schneider Family Book Awards: 0/3 read - I'll just say it now: I did not have a good showing on the awards this year, which will become clear as I go on in this recap. I had never even heard of the picture book winner, but have been wanting to read Rain Reign, particularly after a coworker raved about it. I was vaguely aware of Girls Like Us; I'll try to find time for that as well.

Stonewall Book Awards: 1/4 read (I'll Give You the Sun) - I was surprised that I'd only read one of the books here, but thrilled at which one it was. I'm incredibly impressed that a picture book won overall; I'll definitely have to keep my eyes peeled for that one.

Coretta Scott King John Steptoe Award for New Talent: 0/1 read - I've heard nothing but good things about Jason Reynolds; I'll look forward to discovering his work now.

Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award: 1/3 read - I read the winner, Firebird, though I haven't reviewed it yet. I did enjoy it well enough. I've seen Josephine around but haven't picked it up and Little Melba and Her Big Trombone is a book we've discussed several times at my library (deciding whether or not it's right for our collection).

Coretta Scott King Book Award: 0/4 read - another poor showing for me with this category, though I knew going into it that I'd fail on several accounts for not picking up Brown Girl Dreaming ahead of time. All the Honor titles are on my to-read list as well.

William C. Morris Award: 0/5 read - I love that they announce the shortlist for this award ahead of time, but my attempts to not check out library books inhibited my reading of these titles (also, my library only owns one of them). I've been on a waiting list for the winner since the beginning of January, so I'll be happy once I finally get to check it out.

Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults Award: 1/5 read (The Port Chicago 50- having only read one of the shortlisted titles, I didn't have a prediction here, though I probably would have been hard-pressed to bet against Sheinkin. I'm very surprised by the winner (Popular), but it sounds like fun. I put my name on the wait list for it.

Michael L. Printz Award: 2/5 read (I'll Give You the Sun, Grasshopper Jungle) - though I could have done better reading-wise, I am so thrilled with my absolute two favorite reads from last year winning that I don't actually care all that much. I'm impressed with myself for actually predicting the winner and am ridiculously happy that Grasshopper Jungle - a book I've raved about to no end - received an Honor. I have one of the other Honors sitting next to me bed, waiting for me to stop being distracted by other books. I'm eager to start it now.

Pura Belpre Award for Illustration: 1/4 read (Little Roja Riding Hood) - the one title from this list I've read arrived at our library earlier this month and I read through it. I actually didn't care for it at all, so I was incredibly surprised by its inclusion here. I was surprised I hadn't heard of Green is a Chile Pepper; I recently read Round is a Tortilla and loved it, so I'm excited about a book of colors from the same team. And Separate is Never Equal was named a Bluebonnet book for the coming year, so I'll be trying to squeeze that one in when I can.

Pura Belpre Award for Text: 0/2 read - I'm just happy that I ordered the winner for our library and impressed that it has circulated well, considering its weight (both content and physical).

Odyssey Award: 0/4 read - I did read the print version of one of the Honor titles, though of course that doesn't count for this award. I'm not surprised that Five, Six, Seven, Nate! received an Honor. I was excited to see The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place - this book sounds made for me, and I love a good audio, so I'll be hunting that down.

Mildred L. Batchelder Award: 0/3 read - once again, the winner was a title I saw reviewed a few times and considered ordering for the library but never did. We do have Hidden on the shelves, and it's caught my eye every time I've passed it, so I'm sure I'll be picking it up soon.

Robert F. Sibert Medal: 2/6 read (The Right Word, Neighborhood Sharks) - so happy for The Right Word, which I loved. I haven't reviewed the titles I've read, but I really liked them both. I'm not surprised by any of the other Honor titles either.

Theodor Seuss Geisel Award: 1/3 read (You Are Not Small) - is there a year when Mo Willems puts out an Elephant & Piggie book and doesn't at least receive an Honor? Trust me, I'm not complaining. Surprisingly, though, his book is not the one I've read - You Are Not Small is, though I haven't reviewed it. I was surprised to see it here, as I generally consider this award to be for readers and I would consider that book a picture book, but I'm not extremely familiar with this awards policies, so what do I know?

Randolph Caldecott Medal: 3/7 read (The Adventures of Beekle, The Right Word, The Noisy Paint Box) - holy cats you guys, Dan Santat just won a Caldecott!!!!! He has been one of my favorite illustrators for many years now and this book is absolutely charming. I hadn't expected his name to show up but I was beyond thrilled when it did. I had predicted we'd see several non-fiction picture books among the winners, including The Right Word, so good on me. Though I haven't read it, I, like most, was surprised by This One Summer's inclusion among the Honors, so I'm eager to read it for myself and see what the fuss is about!

John Newbery Medal: 1/3 read (El Deafo) - this announcement was one surprise after another, starting with only two Honor books. It's hard to believe that more weren't honored, simply because I want to promote as many awesome books as possible. But, don't be put off by the short review I gave El Deafo - I wanted to cry when it was announced. I'm so happy for this book and so pleased the committee recognized this brilliant graphic novel. Another surprised was, of course, Brown Girl Dreaming winning the Honor and not the gold, but I've heard many good things about The Crossover and haven't read either, so I can't really make a judgment there. I didn't make much of a prediction for Newbery this year.

General thoughts: what an amazing slew of books to be honored! I am so impressed and proud of all the committee members and the work they did. While I can't speak to any committee's intentions, it certainly seems like the We Need Diverse Books campaign was heard, loud and clear, and is reflected among the winners. I am so, so delighted by this and hope that the good will of this year's committees will carry forth into the future. I'm looking forward to picking up the titles I missed from this year's winners and, as always, looking ahead to next year!

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