ALA announces Youth Media Award winners

In a live webcast, the American Library Association announced the winners of the Youth Media Awards.  Winners and honorees in the teen and young adult categories are listed below.

Michael L. Printz Award:

The Michael L. Printz Award is an award for a book that exemplifies literary excellence in young adult literature. It is named for a Topeka, Kansas school librarian who was a long-time active member of the Young Adult Library Services Association.  The award is sponsored by Booklist, a publication of the American Library Association.

Where Things Come Back written by John Corey Whaley, published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing.

Honorees:

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler; The Returning by Christine Hinwood; Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey; and The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater.

Morris Award:

The William C. Morris YA Debut Award, first awarded in 2009, honors a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens and celebrating impressive new voices in young adult literature.

Where Things Come Back written by John Corey Whaley, published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing.

YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction:

The YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction honors the best nonfiction book published for young adults (ages 12-18) during a November 1 – October 31 publishing year. 

The Notorious Benedict Arnold: A True Story of Adventure, Heroism & Treachery written by Steve Sheinkin and published by Flash Point/Roaring Brook Press, an imprint of Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group.

Margaret A. Edwards Award:

The Margaret A. Edwards Award, established in 1988, honors an author, as well as a specific body of his or her work, for significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature. The annual award is administered by YALSA and sponsored by School Library Journal magazine. It recognizes an author’s work in helping adolescents become aware of themselves and addressing questions about their role and importance in relationships, society, and in the world.

Susan Cooper for The Dark Is Rising Sequence.

Schneider Family Book Award

For books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience.

Two books were selected for the middle school award (ages 9 – 13): “close to famous,” written byJoan Bauer and published by Viking, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group; and “Wonderstruck: A Novel in Words and Pictures,” written by Brian Selznick and published by Scholastic Press, an imprint of Scholastic.

The teen (ages 14-18) award winner is “The Running Dream,” written by Wendelin Van Draanen and published by Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc.

Stonewall Book Award -Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children’s & Young Adult Literature Award:

Given annually to English-language children’s and young adult books of exceptional merit relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender experience.

Putting Makeup on the Fat Boy written by Bil Wright and published by Simon & Schuster BFYR, an imprint of Simon& Schuster Children’s Publishing Division.

Honorees:

a + e 4ever drawn and written by Ilike Merey and published by Lethe Press, Inc.; Money Boy written by Paul Yee and published by Groundwood Books, an imprint of House of Anansi Press; Pink written by Lili Wilkinson and published by HarperTeen, an imprint of HarperCollins; and with or without you written by Brian Farrey and published by Simon Pulse, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing Division.

 

Odyssey Awards:

This annual award will be given to the producer of the best audiobook produced for children and/or young adults, available in English in the United States.

Rotters written by Daniel Kraus, narrated by Kirby Heyborne and produced by Listening Library, an imprint of Random House Audio Publishing Group, Random House, Inc.

Honorees:

Ghetto Cowboy, written by G. Neri, narrated by JD Jackson and produced by Brilliance Audio.

Okay for Now, written by Gary D. Schmidt, narrated by Lincoln Hoppe and produced by Listening Library, an imprint of Random House Audio Publishing Group, Random House, Inc.

The Scorpio Races, written by Maggie Stiefvater, narrated by Steve West and Fiona Hardingham and produced by Scholastic Inc., Scholastic Audiobooks.

Young Fredle, written by Cynthia Voigt, narrated by Wendy Carter and produced by Listening Library, an imprint of Random House Audio Publishing Group, Random House, Inc.

Alex Awards:

The Alex Awards are given to ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18.

    • Big Girl Small by Rachel DeWoskin, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
    • In Zanesville by Jo Ann Beard, published by Little, Brown & Company, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.
    • The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
    • The New Kids: Big Dreams and Brave Journeys at a High School for Immigrant Teens by Brooke Hauser, published by Free Press, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
    • The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, published by Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc.
    • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline, published by Crown Publishers, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc.
    •  Robopocalypse: A Novel by Daniel H. Wilson, published by Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc.
    • Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward, published by Bloomsbury USA
    • The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt: A Novel in Pictures by Caroline Preston, published by Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
    • The Talk-Funny Girl by Roland Merullo, published by Crown Publishers, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc.

More information about YALSA and all of the awards can be found here: http://www.ala.org/yalsa/booklistsawards/bookawards.

Congratulations to all winners and honorees!

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Make time to listen to If I Stay

If I Stay by Gayle Forman, narrated by Kirsten Potter; produced by Listening Library; distributed by Listening Library/Books on Tape, 2009; 4 CDs, 4:48 hours.

Mia’s life seems to be defined by dichotomies: punk rock or classical music; West Coast (family and friends) or East Coast (Julliard); family love or romantic love?  A family drive on a snowy morning ends with her biggest choice: life or death?  As she observes her current situation in an out-of-body experience, Mia reflects on the past and present while deciding on her future.  What will happen if she decides to go?  Or, what if she chooses to stay?

It’s been a very long time since I’ve listened to an audiobook.  The last young adult title I listened to was The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie.  I didn’t enjoy it.  Others I’ve listened to had too many characters to keep track of or were poorly narrated.  So, why choose an audiobook now?  Well, the weather’s been atrocious here, I was out of books in my queue, so I downloaded an audio title from my local library.  Best choice I’ve made in a long time!

Kirsten Potter becomes the narrator, Mia, immediately.  I often forgot that I was listening to a narrator because I felt like I was sitting with Mia, listening to her tell me how she made her decision.  Potter is perfection: her use of slightly different accents and pitch helped me distinguish who was speaking without detracting from the narrator’s voice.  It was like a conversation with a friend, you know, when you imitate voices for dramatic effect.  In addition, the use of cello interludes helped identify important moments in the story and offered a reminder about Mia’s true passion.

Now, all the perfection of the audiobook would be moot without a wonderfully written story.  Forman’s exploration of life’s dichotomies is never maudlin but always touching.  What makes a family?  Why do we make certain choices in life?  Do we always have a choice?  And yet, all the depth of the theme never feels like a burden on the storytelling.  I also noticed that the author involves all of the reader’s senses–or listener’s, in this case.  Her character descriptions created vivid images, I could feel the agony of Mia’s choices and I found I could even smell the hospital.  Because of the descriptions, and because the story has a very strong audio component, listening to the story rather than reading it was a perfect choice.

I have to confess that I have not physically cried while reading a book in a very, very long time.  I feel emotional, I even think, “Wow, this is sad.”  Or I tell people that the book made me cry even though it only made me think of crying.  But I have not cried.  Until this book.  The crescendo of the story had tears streaming down my face.  With earbuds in, I must have been quite a sight!

If I Stay will be with me for a very long time.

4p     4Q     Grade Level: 9-12

Cover Art: I downloaded the title from my local library, so I only saw the art that appears here.  The image of the last leaf ready to fall captures the story perfectly, but without knowing what it’s about, the cover may seem too abstract.

From Reading List: Amazing Audio Books for Young Adults

It’s “Absolutely True” that this audiobook needs the print companion.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian by Sherman Alexie; Recorded Books Productions, LLC, New York, 2008; Narrated by the author, Sherman Alexie; Unabridged, 5 hours.

Arnold “Junior” Spirit has a lot of strikes against him: weird looks (thanks to hydrocephalus and its complications), poverty, and life on the Spokane Indian Reservation.  He uses his knack for cartooning to escape the alcoholism and rules for fighting on “the rez.”  In a twist of fate, his high school math teacher encourages him to expand his education beyond the boundaries of the reservation by attending Reardon High, a white school more than 20 miles away.  Aside from the school’s mascot, Junior is the only Indian at Reardon High School.  His status as “part-time Indian” is complicated—he is not accepted on the rez anymore (they call him an “apple,” red on the outside, white on the inside) and he doesn’t seem to fit in at the white school either.  Through perseverance, a sense of humor, and a little luck, Junior finds himself making friends with all kinds of kids at Reardon—jocks and geeks, in particular.  The love and support of his family is also an integral part of the story.  Making the varsity basketball team during his freshman year also allows Junior to rekindle his childhood friendship with Rowdy, who had vowed never to speak to the “traitor” again.  It is with a sense of humor that this story overcomes what could be overwhelming sadness and pity.  Teens with shortcomings of all types will cheer for Junior as he overcomes obstacles of all shapes and sizes.

I was put off by the narration.  The author’s reading style is sing-songy and the inflection in the dialogue portions is not emotive.  It seems that it was vanity on the author’s part to narrate the story and that is no reason for creating an audiobook!  I think that teens may be too put off by the style to listen to the whole story.  In addition, a vital piece of the print book is the comics that are “taped” into the diary because Junior uses his cartoons as his flotation device to give him hope in a world that might just drown him.  Those images are obviously missing from the audio version. 

If I were to recommend this audiobook to teens, I would insist that they check out the print book and read along so that the images could enhance the story for them.  For this reason, I marked down the scores for popularity and quality for the audiobook version; however, the print book is a fun coming of age story that will appeal to teen boys in particular.  When the print and audio books are combined, this is a story of hope, perseverance and success over enormous obstacles, with a little crude humor thrown in to increase the teen appeal.

Audiobook: 2P     3Q     Grades 8-11    

Print Book: 4P     4Q     Grades 8-11

Part-Time Indian Audio Book RecordingCover Art:  The use of a toy Indian on a vivid orange background is unusual and sparse enough to create curious interest in the cover. Among the audiobooks on the shelf, the color of this case made the book stand out and the white type on the orange background stood out even more.  I don’t think it will appeal to teens, other than the fact that orange is a “hot” color right now.

From Reading List: YALSA Amazing Audio Books for Young Adults

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