Lucky Charms and Spiderwick Chronicles
Thursday Afternoon Visits: January 17, 2008

My (Late) Response to the ALA Youth Media Awards

Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!,I've neglected to write about the ALA Youth Media Awards (Newbery, Caldecott, Printz, etc.), which were announced on Monday. Basically, by the time I had a few minutes to post, it appeared that everyone else in the entire world had already written about the awards, so I did not. Also, I'm sad to admit that I haven't read very many of the nominated titles (though a few are on my list). This is quite a comedown from last year, when I had positively reviewed all three of the Newbery Honor titles.

But I am pleased to see that the Newbery winner, Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! by Laura Amy Schlitz is a Cybils finalist in the Poetry category. (For other Cybils-ALA overlap, see this post, by Kelly Fineman.) I've also been enjoying the press and blog coverage about Laura, who is a school librarian, and clearly much admired. Actually, I recently referenced an article that she wrote about raising readers, in my Helping Kids Learn to Enjoy Reading article, after Monica suggested it. So I'm extra happy about Laura's success, and offer my congratulations to the other winners. I thought that the Caldecott committee took a bold stance by choosing Hugo Cabaret, and I applaud them for it.

I was actually more excited about the ALA and YALSA notables lists, like the 2008 Best Books for Young Adults (Top 10 List), the Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers (Top 10 List), and the 2008 Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults. They are such amazingly strong lists - with something for everyone. And, because of course it's all about me, I'll add that I enjoyed looking at those because I have more people I know (at least in the having emailed sense of know) who are on one or more of those lists, like Readergirlz Janet Lee Carey and Mitali Perkins, as well as Sarah Miller, Robin Brande, Jay Asher, Heather Brewer, S. A. Harazin, Jordan Sonnenblick, Gabrielle Zevin, and Laurie Halse Anderson (though they haven't all written about the awards yet). Plus there are lots of other authors on the list who I admire, through their books and/or their blogs. Congratulations to all! Kelly F. has also noted the Cybils titles on the ALA and YALSA Notables lists.

One other ALA Awards issue that I specifically wanted to mention was the controversy that's been brewing over the Margaret A. Edwards Award. This award specifically honors an author for his or her young adult work, and was granted this year to Orson Scott Card, author of the now classic YA novel Ender's Game. The selection of Card is controversial, however, because, in opinion pieces separate from his YA books, Card has expressed strong criticisms of homosexuality. School Library Journal has an article by Debra Lau Whelan with positive and negative reactions. The article includes a GREAT quote by Roger Sutton:

"“The award is not for being an idiot in real life; it's for writing books that have made a positive difference in the reading lives of young people,” says Sutton, adding that librarians have no business evaluating a writer’s moral, political, or ethical beliefs."

Way to go, Roger! My two cents: I don't agree with Orson Scott Card's personal views at all, but I love the Ender books and the Homecoming series. Some of his other books I tried and cast aside because they didn't appeal, and part of why they didn't appeal was too much a religious overtone. But that's about what's in the books, and my personal choice to read them or not. For me, the book should be judged independently of the author's views (though I understand that other people don't feel this way). Really, I hope that this issue goes away. But I still enjoyed Roger's quote.

And that is my belated take on this year's awards.