There were lots of surprises at the ALA Youth Media Awards this past Monday morning (you can read about all of the winners here) and they have already been much celebrated, dissected, and critiqued. I have my own thoughts (don’t we all) which I offer as a list, because I fear if I started writing something long form I’d be here until April. And I have some snow to shovel.
So, in no particular order, here’s what I think:
1) Diversity won the day. Everywhere. The Newbery medal and both honor books. The Wilder (ALSC lifetime contribution) and Edwards (YALSA lifetime contribution) awards. The Caldecott medal and three of the six honor books. The Arbuthnot lecturer. Three of the five Sibert honor books. The Geisel award author. Not to mention the slates from the Belpré, the Coretta Scott King, the Schneider Family, and the Stonewall, all of which are diverse by nature. Everywhere!
2) Back in December, in a comment on the Calling Caldecott blog, I suggested that it was entirely possible for This One Summer be recognized by both the Caldecott and Printz committees. Nobody was buying it. This is me, gloating.
3) Some of my favorites were overlooked. Harlem Hellfighters, The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher, The Turtle of Oman. But I still get to love and champion those books, and now I get to (re)acquaint myself with other books that other folks find to be extraordinary. It’s hard to think of that as a problem, really.
4) Some things I really don’t like were recognized, too. And that’s a terrific opportunity to remember that people see books differently from how I do, and people see the awards differently from how I do. And, ultimately, that the greater the variety of taste and appreciation we have among our ranks, the better able we are to meet the many different literary needs of the young people we serve. Win win, as it were.
5) What did you think?
Thom, I am thrilled to tell you that Jandy Nelson is an alumna of La Jolla Country Day School, my school. She is one of the most eloquent speakers you could invite to speak and her books are extraordinary!
I feel like we are channeling each other (well I wasn’t able to predict This One Summer for two awards). But I’m with you. My extra thought: I wasn’t swoony-excited about graphic novels being honored in either the Caldecott and Newbery categories because great writing and great art transcends any genre/format. Of course graphic novels would ease into and not even have to crack a “big medal ceiling”…but that’s maybe just me. I lived through some amazing choices over the years and tend to “Trust the Process” more than most!
Thom, so glad you used the word surprise. The same thought entered my mind after the awards were announced, I even said it out loud! However as a newbie there was trepidation that someone would turn to me ask what the heck I was talking about. For a first trip to the awards, it was very exciting and rewarding, You taught me much and I think I got some of it! Hurray for One Summer and one of the highlights of the conference was telling Anita Eerdman congratulations! I will stay curious to hear what you didn’t like. Thanks for helping so many of us develop the skills to find great books that cross cultural lines and meet the needs of many children.
Of course, the Printz winner, the Morris winner, EVERYWHERE!