All posts in: book awards

10 Sep 2017

printz authors in 2017

True confession: I almost missed the ALA awards announcements last year.

I was fresh from maternity leave, in the thick of juggling new daily routines, childcare, childcare related upper respiratory illnesses, returning to a job that I hadn’t done in 6+ months, and nursing a sweet baby boy at all hours of the night.

This is to say, I did not feel at all knowledgeable or prepared for the big announcements. I hadn’t read very many of the honored books (aka March: Book Three). I feel like I sort of skimmed over a year of children’s and teen lit.

Fast forward to September of 2017. I have a healthy, huge, active fifteen-month-old. While I have read Steve Light’s Planes Go about 45 times since Tuesday, I am still feeling less than connected with children’s books actually written this year (except maybe this one?)

So in an effort to at least quantify what I’ve missed out on in a year, I’ve decided to resurrect an old idea: gathering up the alums.

Does an award sticker beget more award stickers? I’m sure some intrepid blogger has gathered this data. But even if the stats are not on my side, I feel like the works of former winners and honorees – of, in this case, the Printz award – are a great place to start thinking about excellence in teen lit.

So without further ado, here is a hopefully somewhat definitive list of 2017 works by Printz award or honor winning authors. A reading list for the childless and otherwise ambitious unfettered; a reference point/pipe dream for the rest of us suckers.

 

Marcus Sedgwick – Saint Death and Mister Memory

Jessie Ann Foley – Neighborhood Girls

Nick Lake – Satellite

Benjamin Alire Saenz – The Explicable Logic of My Life

Elizabeth Wein – The Pearl Thief

Maggie Stiefvater – All the Crooked Saints

Deborah Heiligman – Vincent and Theo

M.T. Anderson – Yvain: The Knight of the Lion and Landscape with Invisible Hand

E. Lockhart – Genuine Fraud

John Green – Turtles All the Way Down

Mal Peet & Meg Rosoff – Beck

Helen Frost – When My Sister Started Kissing

Ellen Wittlinger – Saturdays with Hitchcock

 

12 Nov 2015

2015 National Book Awards

Well, it seems I have somehow missed the window for blogging about the National Book Awards longlist… and judging by how long it takes me to churn out a fully-formed post these days, I’m criss-crossing my fingers that by the time you darling readers see this post, I won’t have missed the window for talking about the freaking shortlist. Gah!!

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The ten finalists in the category of Young People’s Literature struck me as quite the… surprising bunch. Individually, I wasn’t surprised to see any particular title on the list, but together they just seemed a bit of motley crew. Two middle grade titles, one fiction and one memoir. Two nonfiction titles for older readers. A spread of YA – one realistic, one historical, and three on the spectrum of fantasy. Oh, and a non-realistic graphic novel to round out the bunch. That’s quite the spread.

Since some of these books fell under my 2014-2015 Read All the Books jurisdiction, I have read an impressive five titles this year! Most recently – Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda and Nimona. Both of these I found kind of… left field-ish? I don’t know. While you see YA realism on the NBA lists occasionally, light romantic/comedic YA realism? Not so much. As I mentioned last month, I thought Simon was enjoyable, but perhaps a bit thin; not surprised to see it fall off the long-list. I read Nimona earlier this week as part of a Graphic Novel Extravaganza – loved the medieval/superhero mash-up setting, loved Lord Ballister Blackheart as a character and loved Goldenloin as the best character name ever. Very fun and very comic-y, which again, you don’t see very often on awards lists… and maybe I’m used to considering meatier GNs, then, because I left Nimona feeling like she was a bit light on theme, maybe? Also, am I just the oldest person around or were that the world’s TINIEST dialogue text? Alright. Curmudgeon out.

Two I read in early 2015: Bone Gap and X: A Novel. Bone Gap: a genre-bending YA story that reads like a fairytale with a really endearingly misunderstood protagonist and a creepy-as-hell rural setting. X: a novelization of Malcolm X’s late teen years in Boston and NYC that focuses on how his experiences (and morally questionable teen-aged behaviors) led him on a path to self-discovery and activism. Both satisfying reads, but for my tastes, kind of middle of the road? Since X has already dropped off, we’ll see if Bone Gap can go the distance.

Of the titles I haven’t yet read, two are already out of the running: Gary Paulsen’s This Side of Wild and Rae Carson’s Walk on Earth a Stranger. I almost ordered This Side of Wild for the library as fiction rather than biography a few weeks back, which is… embarrassing. Walk on Earth a Stranger sounds like a fantasy book that I could dig, but I’m heard such conflicting reviews from respectable sources: some dug it hard, some found it completely culturally insensitive/offensive. Argh. Either way, neither are in the running, so the stakes for reading are lower.

And speaking of books that are no longer in the running, can we pause and shed a tear for M. T. Anderson’s Symphony for the City of the Dead? I haven’t yet read it (despite my better intentions), but I’ve heard that it’s good-good-good-good and I just really can’t imagine that this awards committee came to that decision easily. I HOPE YOU ARE ALL LOSING SLEEP, COMMITTEE.

Juuuust kidding. That was pretty hoe-stile. And I haven’t even read two of the final contenders, so even if I had read Symphony, I would still have a useless opinion. First, we have Steve Sheinkin’s Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War; Mr. Sheinkin’s name is never a surprise to an awards list. He’s simply doing some of the coolest stuff with narrative nonfic right now. Also, I’ve heard him speak before and he seems like… the absolute nicest, nerdiest dude you will ever meet. Next, our MG offering, Ali Benjamin’s The Thing About Jellyfish. And it’s a debut! How exciting! I had heard zero about this book before seeing it on this list (we even missed it for ordering at the old librario), but it does look like the kind of tween-y MG that I would like.

And last, but not least………

Neal Shusterman’s Challenger Deep.

Guys. This book. It certainly has a sentimental corner of my heart, but my own sappy personal BS aside… THIS BOOK. I read it in May. I was reading a book a day at that point – it was the 110th full-length book I’d read in 2015 alone. And just a few chapters in, I was perplexed, I was riveted, my jaw just dropped to the dang floor.

So yeah, this one is my favorite.

(And I’m hitting publish in five, four, three, two, ONE WEEK BEFORE THE WINNER IS ACTUALLY ANNOUNCED somebody please give me a delayed blogger gold star)

26 Sep 2015

horn book at simmons 2015

HBAS_2015_HeaderFriends, family, and other concerned parties: I am still alive and reading.

Well, assuming you consider picking up a different book every day and reading 10 pages before putting it down to watch an episode of Gilmore Girls to be reading.

At any rate, I am alive, and full intending on returning to this blog space in the near future.

But first, a quick signal boost to an Exciting! Event! on the near horizon, one that may be of interest to those of you Friends of the Children’s Book out there – next weekend is the fabulous, annual, simply not-to-be-missed Horn Book at Simmons one day colloquium! The Simmons College Center for the Study of Children’s Literature and the fine fellows at The Horn Book Magazine are teaming up yet again to provide a premier one-day children’s-book-lovers-palooza. Or something like that.

I’ve attended before, so it goes a little like this. On Friday night, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards are awarded, and acceptance speeches are given. A fancy reception follows, where you may drink some wine, get books signed, and maybe Jack Gantos will walk up to you and start a conversation. Then you go to sleep and wake up early, trek to Simmons, take a seat in the perpetually freezing Paretsky Center, drink some sweet, sweet conference coffee, and watch while esteemed authors, illustrators, editors, and other children’s literature people proceed to blow your mind with brilliance. Then you go home and bask in that happy feeling that there is a whole community of people who value children’s books as much as you do, and probably spend an hour or so talking your partner’s ear off about all of the brilliant ideas you never had until this day (while he makes polite nods and hmms while trying not to check his iPhone unscrupulously).

Yours truly will be participating in the events of the day, so it is possible that your Day of Brilliance may be briefly interrupted by a whimpering, sweaty woman trying desperately to keep her wits about her while speaking to an author of more-than-average celebrity. Ignore her. Keep your eyes on the more brilliant members of the lineup. Susan Cooper! Marla Frazee! Neal Shusterman! Wow! Can you believe it? How lucky are you. It’s not too late to join, if you are a local person. If you’re not a local person, I’m sure there will be lots of fun content on the Horn Book’s various blogs, and you can watch the #hbas15 hashtag on the Twitters.

And speaking of interruptions (brief or not so brief)… I’ve really got to go so I can resume panicking preparing for the big show!

01 Jun 2015

Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards 2015

Hey! It’s time for another book award post!

Remember when I used to post these?

(Remember when I used to post anything?)

Well, the 2015 Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards were announced this past week, and I want to show you who won…

 

because I was a judge!

 

Oh, that was an awkward lead in. But my, oh, my I don’t even know anymore because my life for the past months has been an exhilarating/overwhelming/ridiculous GIANTPILEOFBOOKS. All I do is read-read-read no matter what. Then there were a few weeks in May where I spent 75% of my latent brain power revisiting and recalling what I’d read, while also trying to madly squeeze in JUSTAFEWMORE books. And then, a Saturday sitting in the Palace Road Building of Simmons College (it circles back, everything circles back) with two brilliant opinionated women whose contributions to the field of children’s and young adult literature I can only hope to someday come close to.

 

It’s been a wild ride. I feel like I say that a lot. Maybe my life is just a series of wild rides? Maybe yours is too? But this was a really one-of-a-kind ride. Trying hard not to be a romantic sap about it all, but the experience of altering the terrain of my everyday life to accommodate such an enormously daunting task was just profound. Difficult and exhausting and intimidating, too… but also such a pleasure, to be given permission to let everything else fall away but books. Like an intense semester at grad school – a six-credit class with no papers and a huge, looming final you know you can’t be 100% prepared for, but your only homework is reading.

 

There were books and books and books and books. And then there were nine.

 

And I love them all. I do, I do.

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Picturebook Award

The Farmer and the Clown by Marla Frazee


Picturebook Honors

It’s Only Stanley by Jon Agee

Once Upon an Alphabet by Oliver Jeffers

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Fiction Award

Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms by Katherine Rundell


Fiction Honors

Egg & Spoon by Gregory Maguire

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

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Nonfiction Award

The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming

Nonfiction Honors

The Boys Who Challenged Hitler by Phillip Hoose

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

 

02 Feb 2015

reading rockstar

This morning I woke up to a foot-ish of snow and the cold, hard reality that my employer was expecting me to show up at work. Also, a post-Super Bowl Too Much Food&Drink Not Enough Sleep situation. Read: grumpy as hell.

I did, however, make it into the office in time to watch the webcast of  the ALA Youth Media Awards. And wow, what a crazy set of awards. There were upsets! Some well-deserving sleepers! Some books I really disliked taking home gold medals! An arguably YA graphic novel on the Caldecott list, a graphic novel on the Newbery list, and six (SIX!!) Caldecott honors that still somehow managed to skip some of my 2014 favorites. Definitely a wild ride.

Now, because I am having such a crummy day, I am going to divert your attention from the authors and illustrators who put forth such an amazing crop of children’s and young adult literature this past year and brag SHAMELESSLY about how many of these freaking award books I have read. Seriously. Reader, I killed it.

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  • I read the Newbery Medal winner – The Crossover by Kwame Alexander – and both honor books.
  • I read the Coretta Scott King Author Award winner – Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson – and one honor.
  • I read the Coretta Scott King Illustrator winner – Firebird by Christopher Myers and Misty Copeland – and one honor.
  • I read the Schneider Family Book Award for middle school readers – Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin.
  • I read the Pura Belpre Illustrator Award – Viva Frida by Yuyi Morales.
  • I did not read the Stonewall Book Award winner – This Day in June by Gayle E. Pittman – but I did read two of the three honor books.
  • I did not read the Geisel Winner – You Are (Not) Small by Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant – but I did read one of the two honor books.
  • I read the William C. Morris award winner – Gabi, A Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero – and one other honor book.

 

The only categories I completely whiffed on were the Pura Belpre Author Award and my beloved Alex List. Brag, braggity brag brag BRAG… but this is likely the only year this will happen, so thank you for indulging my self-indulgence and CHEERS to another great year of books!

 

18 Sep 2014

2014 National Book Awards

This summer was a bit of a warped time situation for me. I went on two vacations and slept in five different states. The Boy was home… a lot. I wore the same five dresses every single week. This summer went on forever. But last week it got cold and I had to wear pants and it’s dark out after work and there are freaking pumpkin spice lattes and how is summer actually over??!?

Maybe this is a side effect of going social media dark in August. I missed out on everyone saying goodbye to the summer, so I forgot to say goodbye to the summer. Instead, I’m just gobsmacked by mother nature and having to wear pants. Ugh.

What I’m trying to say is, BOOK AWARDS SEASON IS UPON US and I forgot to get pre-excited about it, so now I am just extra regular-excited. The longlist for the National Book Awards Young People’s Literature category has arrived, and I really like it a lot.

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I’m going to brag about having read a grand old TWO of these titles before Monday’s announcement. This is big, guys. How many did I read in 2013? 2012? 2011? Zero, Zero, and Zero. I have turned over a new leaf. I am now the queen of books.

Laurie Halse Anderson puts out a new contemporary YA book, oh, every half a millennium, so OF COURSE I read The Impossible Knife of Memory. I liked it. As I revealed in my Printz Prediction mega-post, I didn’t think it was the Best Thing Ever, but I liked it just fine. I was much more impressed by Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming… sorry, LHA, but if I’m betting on you or Jackie Woodson in an authorial cage match? My money’s on Woodson.

I was not surprised to see Steve Sheinkin’s new YA, The Port Chicago 50 on the list – the NBA YPL committee always seems to have a soft spot for nonfiction. A tiny soft spot. One book per year. I was also not surprised to see Eliot Schrefer’s Threatened on the list, since he earned a nod not too long ago for Endangered. Also, critical darling (and winner of the NBC’s 5 under 35), John Corey Whaley? You are also no big freaking surprise here. Also, while I didn’t read it yet, I would like credit for renewing Noggin over and over again for five entire months. It basically lived at my house. That should count for something.

Deborah Wiles’s Revolution and Kate Milford’s Greenglass House are both getting great reviews, so no surprises here. There’s a lot of YA/MG crossover on this list (the Woodson, Sheinkin, Schrefer, and Hiaasen sit in that 12-14 neck of the woods), but to me, Revolution and Greenglass House are the reps from Team Middle Grade. And I think you could argue that Team Middle Grade has taken the NBA gold for the last five years, so neither of these are to be ignored.

So. The last three. Skink: No Surrender. I do love me some Carl Hiaasen, but nothing about his adult work screams “GIVE ME A MAJOR LITERARY AWARD.” (edit: except for the part where he got a Newbery honor for Hoot… oops) But good to see some comedy/mystery on the list either way, lest we forget how powerful and difficult and important comedy writing. Super happy to see Girls Like Us on the list – woohoo for quiet(er) girly YA realism, and woohoo for Candlewick! And last but not least – Andrew Smith. Mr. Smith, you are having quite the year! I checked out 100 Sideways Miles immediately after finishing Grasshopper Jungle a few weekends ago, which meant I read the NBA longlist knowing that a nominee was sitting on my desk WAITING FOR ME TO READ IT and that’s when you feel a little bit like a literary rockstar.

Yes, I’m just very, overly excited to have read two books out of ten from a fundamentally arbitrary list. Small, nerdy pleasures.

 

 

16 Sep 2014

(not so) Premature Printz

When I started dreaming up this post, I was going to title it Premature Printz Predictions. Because I started crafting this post in June, only halfway through 2014.

Sometime between June and now, postulating upon potential Printz pics became… um… timely. So there you have it. I’m a procrastinator. A Printz Predicting Procrastinator. Okay, I’m done. Really.

Flashback to late 2013. I won’t go as far as to say I *called* Marcus Sedgwick winning last year’s award for Midwinterblood. I didn’t read the book, and I didn’t tell anyone my prediction or write it down or even call it a prediction in my own mind. What I do remember, quite clearly, is a moment where I gazed upon what I believed to be the primary contenders for the year’s award and wonder why nobody was talking about it. Sedgwick won a Printz honor for Revolver. Midwinterblood had a Horn Book star. Neither of these are guaranteed, or even likely markers of a potential winner, but both at once gave me definite pause.

But we were all still busy talking about Eleanor and Park, The Summer Prince, Fangirl, and Winger. Buzz books.

Blinded by the buzz? Or just having more fun talking about the fun books?

So this year, I’m wondering less about which books are sure-winners and more about which books we should be talking about and reading. Props, as usual, to Someday My Printz Will Come for their comprehensive longlist, which I consulted more than once while crafting this post. I’ve narrowed down the potential Printz playing field (SORRY) to the following categories:

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The Alumni

Honored once, honored again? The Printz has only been around since 2000 – the pool of past winners is modest, and the pool of past winning authors even smaller. Does one Printz – either award or honor -beget another? These 2014 books are all written by previous awardees. There’s no reason that these books should win over other 2014 titles, but I feel like they should be on the table. A good place to start – a way to take the collective temperature of what is going on this year in YA.

I’ve only read two of these – The Impossible Knife of Memory and We Were Liars. I’m not sure Impossible Knife will stand up to the competition – Laurie Halse Anderson does maintain her well-earned reputation with her latest YA realism venture, but I feel like this one screams “Problem Novel!” a little too loudly to be a real contender (edit: says she three days before the NBA longlisted this one…)We Were Liars has a better chance – so well-constructed, with effortless literary allusions and such STYLE (sorry, E. Lockhart fangirl in the house) – but I think the reliance on such a sensational plotline (not to mention the relentless marketing push… FOR THIS ENTIRELY DESERVING BOOK *cough*) may be a distraction.

Now I’m moving on to Purely Printz Postulation (…) but I don’t think the Lynch or the Myers are likely contenders. Like Ms. Anderson, it’s been a long time since either of these authors saw any Printz love and I don’t think there’s anything exemplary going on in either of their 2014 novels that would make them stand out. The Yang I’m a little iffy on as well because Yang didn’t do the artwork for The Shadow Hero.

Of the rest, I can’t really comment, except that I have a tingly Spidey-Sense feeling around The True Tale of the Monster Billy Dean.

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The Morris Alums

I’m not really into statistics-related math, at least in my blogging-free-time, so please forgive me for making unsupported statements… however, I would hazard a guess that the Morris to Printz corrollation is not as strong as the Printz to Second Printz correlation. This could be because the Morris is a slightly newer award and, by nature, honors first-time writers; perhaps we will see more Morris to Printz winners as these new authors keep at it. However, I think that reading the latest work by Morris winners is another good way to get a feel for what is going on in YA in a given year – these particular books might not be Printz-worthy, but it’s likely that whatever wins will be at LEAST as good as this little stack.

I have sadly read zero of these books, so I have no firsthand insights on any of these particular books, but I could see Jenny Hubbard and Stephanie Kuehn making a Printz appearance this year.

 

 

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The Otherwise Awarded

These authors are not Printz winners or honors, but they’ve still medaled in other divisions. Schrefer, Johnson, Sheinkin and Griffin are all National Book Award nominees. Sheinkin tore up all sorts of other awards with Bomb a few years ago, and both Sheinkin and Smith earned Boston Globe-Horn Book nods this year.

And what’s more, Schrefer, Sheinkin, and Smith just landed on this year’s National Book Awards long list! Holy cats!

Maybe too much buzz will work against these books in Printz discussions – that’s probably not a kosher thing to say about a supposedly impartial book award committee, but it’s still a possibility – but the Printz isn’t the only game in town. These authors have proven themselves elsewhere; they should surely be part of the Printz discussion.

 

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Buzz Queens

These authors and books may not have any YA specific award pedigree (well, except for 100 Sideways Miles, now!), but they are the ones you’ve heard of this year, by authors who’ve built solid reputations. Wolitzer and Maguire earn accolades for their adult fic, so a foray into YA is worth noting – Egg & Spoon feels a little young-ish for YA, but I feel like that’s probably one of the more common ways we dismiss a book’s Printz-worthiness and then sometimes we get Navigating-Early-ed. Same goes for Brown Girl Dreaming. I’ll Give You the Sun and Afterworlds have a lot of industry buzz behind them, but will that translate to literary acclaim? A reader-friend I trust totally panned I’ll Give You the Sun, so we’ll see how that one does.

I’ve read Belzhar and Brown Girl Dreaming. While I enjoyed Belzhar a great deal, it feels like an awards longshot. Brown Girl Dreaming, however, feels like it could be a big winner in any category you want to put it in.

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Wild Cards

The wild cards. The debut authors. The modest buzz. The starred reviews. The sleepers. I think these four books could have a shot at making the Printz list even though they don’t have the frenetic buzz that so often surrounds a YA novel. I’ve read The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender and it might have the right combination of fanciful literary language and magical realism that beguiles an awards committee. Gospel of Winter seems like the kind of quiet problem novel that might slip under the radar but could stand up to some of the more buzzed-about books. Everyone was talking Pointe when it pubbed in April for Colbert’s engaging story, multifaceted characterization, and socioeconomically and ethnically diverse cast of teen characters. This One Summer has been very warmly regarded – SIX STARS! – but I haven’t sensed that awards-push that surrounded, say, last year’s Boxers and Saints. Graphic novels have a tough go during awards season, but this one is definitely deserving. And six stars! Seriously!

So there you have it, guys – not any predictions, really, but a rough playing field for January’s awards. I think all that’s left to say is… um… get reading.

 

28 Sep 2013

Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards 2013

Hey! The Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards were just announced!

…umm… back in May. When I was completely strung out on wedding shit.

However, that doesn’t mean they are not worth celebrating. Especially when two of my favorite YA books of the year appeared on the fiction list! I will be attending the awards ceremony again this year, which is always great fun. Hobnobbing around the old alma mater, children’s lit celeb spotting, wine sipping and cheese noshing. And the acceptance speeches, oh, they are the stuff that sparks up the soul. People with considerable talents, choosing to pursue excellence in children’s literature through writing, through art, through teaching, reading, and reviewing. It’s a celebration of what we all are trying to achieve with our work. It is fun.

I am even more excited to get to attend the one-day colloquium on Saturday. I haven’t been for a few years, but I still remember some of the interesting bits of discussion.

Oh, and you might notice that my new favorite author will be in attendance. Yes. Yes. Yes. I will need to recruit a close friend to keep me from fangirling out; the fancy outfits, the spirit of celebration, the wine (the wine), oh, it can be a dangerous atmosphere for keeping one’s cool. I’ll try to stick to the signed books and admiration from a distance. I’ll try real hard.

Picturebook Award

Building Our House by Jonathan Bean


Picturebook Honors

Open This Little Book by Jesse Klausmeiser, illus. by Suzy Lee

Black Dog by Levi Pinfold

 

Fiction Award

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (yay, rah!)


Fiction Honors

A Corner of White by Jaclyn Moriarty

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman (yay yay, rah rah!)

 


Nonfiction Award

Electric Ben: The Amazing Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin by Robert Byrd

Nonfiction Honors

Dreaming Up: A Celebration of Building  by Christy Hale

Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Brian Pinkney

 

17 Sep 2013

2013 National Book Awards

Happy National Book Award week!

I am always excited for the NBA’s as they mark the official start of AWARDS SEASON! National Book. End of Year Book Lists. Alex & William C. Morris, then the rest of the ALA Youth Media Awards. Cybils. Throw the Oscars in there too. It’s a happy time of year for this nerd.

This year, the National Book Awards are embarking on an Excitement EXCITEMENT campaign, perhaps to lure in the interest of the less nerdy. Longer long lists, staggered announcements, and I’m sure something goofy with the award announcements on November 20th, too. Come on, normal people, get hyped about books.

 

It is no surprise whatsoever that I have read zero of these titles. Unless Clash of Kings is going to get some kind of retroactive nomination (in the young people’s lit category??) then the odds were really against me anyway. I am, however, really pleased with the line-up. The Atlantic posted some laughable excuse for journalism yesterday in which they took a repeated claim – that the National Book Awards favors obscure authors and titles – and applied it to this set of books, thus revealing that nobody on the god damn Atlantic staff has read a book for kids since Hop on Pop. This list is a star-studded kidlit smorgasborg.

First, we have Kathi Appelt with The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp. Poor little unknown Appelt…. who earned an NBA nod not five years ago with her completely smashing middle grade novel The Underneath. I was just thinking about The Underneath, actually, and how much I loved it. It’s about a dog and a mess of cats living under a porch in the swamps of Louisiana, for goodness sake, and if the interwoven mythology and natural mysticism doesn’t get you, the language will knock you flat out. I have high hopes for Appelt’s bayou follow-up.

Kate DiCamillo is another middle grade hard-hitter I’m happy to see honored. I’ve had an ARC of Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures in my desk for months. I also may or may not use a Flora & Ulysses tote bag to carry around my groceries. You’ll have to haunt my neighborhood Shaw’s to confirm. Also, Candlewick! Yay, rah! Long live the independent press and Boston-based kid lit!

Did any of you get around to reading Anne Ursu’s Breadcrumbs? I loved it, but it didn’t win any dang awards whatsoever. Awful. I was glad to see her latest fairytale remix – The Real Boy – getting some attention. Also, glad she teamed up with Erin McGuire again this year for illustrations – love both of her covers.

I feel like the Young People’s Literature category typically swings more towards young adult than middle grade (or picturebook, for that matter), so it was nice to see so many younger reads getting honored on this year’s shortlist. I haven’t heard much about Lisa Graff’s A Tangle of Knots or Cindy Kadohata’s The Thing About Luck, but they both look like middle grade I would like.

And then the YA contingent. Picture Me Gone – the latest from Printz-winner Meg Rosoff. Two Boys Kissing – the latest from bestselling David Levithan. Boxers & Saints – the long-awaited latest from Printz-winner (and bad-ass amazing dork) Gene Luen Yang. Man, look at all these obscure authors! Even Tom McNeal’s Far Far Away has earned a few starred reviews. I feel like the darkest horse in the bunch is Alaya Dawn Johnson’s The Summer Prince, and, strangely, the one title I want to read the most. Especially because Favorite Roommate alerted me to one of those scathing, gif-ridden Goodreads reviews. When an award-winning book gets bad consumer-reviews my interest is piqued.

Also see: Jessica’s Descent into Fantasy Madness.

Also see: I’m not going to have time to read any of these because Cybils.

16 Sep 2013

2013 Cybils Awards

Oh, 2013, where did you go? Wasn’t it just a few months ago that I was maxing out my library holds, throwing out my shoulders carrying home huge piles of weekend reading, waking up in the still hours of the freezing-cold-ass morning to plow through a quick book about the entire Civil War?

Nevertheless, it is time for the 2013 Cybils Awards. I am happy to be serving on the NEWLY CREATED (differentiated, migrated, mutated) Young Adult Nonfiction committee as a first round judge. Bring on the library holds! The spreadsheets! The ibuprofen!

Here are last year’s short-listed titles – some of my favorite reading in 2013, actually. And wow, did I learn so much about a bunch of random crap this year. Nonfiction committee work keeps you SMART, guys. I’m this much closer to being a certified genius.

Nominations for all Cybils categories will open October 1st – visit and nominate your favorite reads. If you have any early leads on a YA nonfiction title… uh… let me know. I have read all of zero YA nonfiction books this year! Which should make the next few months really REALLY fun! Right? But yeah, I’m going to need a 2 week head start, so send me any recommendations.