Reading Is Good For You

Book Reviews, Literary News, and Thoughts on Life

Thoughts on the ALA Youth Media Awards

So, today was the day the American Library Association announced their youth media awards winners and honor recipients, which is kind of A Big Deal in the library and literary world.

Being a big fan of young adult literature, I was most interested in the Printz award, which was given to John Corey Whaley’s Where Things Come Back, which was also the recipient of the Morris award, which is given to ‘a debut book written by a first-time author writing for teens’.  Has that ever happened before in the history of these awards? Having just read the book recently, I can say that it is a worthy award winner, though it might be a bit of a tough sell to teens, especially with that cover (thank goodness the paperback cover shows more promise, but it won’t be out until May).  This is a book with a lot of heart and an intricate, layered storyline, and I think it could go over well with fans of the kind of stories told by the likes of Markus Zusak and John Green.

ETA: Click on through for the Figment Blog’s interview with John Corey Whaley on being a Morris Award finalist.

I have my doubts that the recipients of these literary awards are generally the kind of books that their target audience (i.e. teens) are drawn to, so I was delighted to see that Maggie Stiefvater’s The Scorpio Races and Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler were given the nod for the Printz Honor award. I adored The Scorpio Races and I know that Maggie’s other books have high appeal with teens, and while I haven’t actually read Why We Broke Up, I’ve heard teens asking our teen librarian to order it for our collection.

ETA: Daniel Handler Gives Relationship Advice on the HuffPo twitter feed. Let me just say, what a sassy man.

@huffpostbooks What if we love someone but that person is actually a cat? #DHHelpsU

Please, please tell me that by “cat” you mean “jazz musician.” I’m depressed enough already, @flavorpill. #DHHelpsU

I read another of the Honor books, Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey, purely on a whim — the cover is a gorgeous, mood setting piece of  photography — and while I quite liked it and can see why the award committee selected it for the honor, I think the story could have used a little tightening (I’ve never played cricket and I know nothing about it, so a lengthy section where a cricket game is described went totally over my head). The core of the book, however, is a heartbreaking look at race relations in Australia during the Vietnam war period.

The Returning by Christine Hinwood is the book I’m up in the air about as far as the Honor books go. On the one hand, my two favorite authors, Megan Whalen Turner and Melina Marchetta, blurbed this book, so that gives it points in its favor. On the other hand, some of the reviews I’ve read have been really disheartening. Obviously, places like Goodreads are not gospel when it comes to opinions on books, but when more one star reviews are given than five star, it gives a reader pause before she considers picking it up. Ultimately, I’m going to have to ILL that bad boy and decide for myself.

I was really hoping that Franny Billingsley’s Chime would at least be a Printz Honor book, especially after the Chime/Shine fiasco with the National Book Award, but, alas, it was not to be. *sniff* It’ll always be a winner in my heart. I was also disappointed that the fabulous A Monster Calls by the equally fabulous Patrick Ness was snubbed for the Newberry. It was one of my favorite books from last year and I’ve seen it on numerous best-of-2011 posts around the blogosphere, but that never seems like a good indication of the winners of these types of awards. Oh, well, the cover will look better without that award sticker to mess it up anyways.

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