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.


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.


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.


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:

Congratulations to all winners and honorees!


YALSA announces 2011 Youth Media Award winners and honorees

YALSA has posted the list of winners and honorees in the young adult categories for the 2011 Youth Media Awards.  You can find links to all of them here:

Congratulations to all winners and honorees! 🙂


Just a quick post to congratulate Paolo Bacigalupi for winning the Michael Printz Award for Ship Breaker!

Additionally, John Green and David Levithan’s Will Grayson, Will Grayson was honored multiple times.  Congratulations to you as well!

The awards list has not yet been published, but if you can’t wait to hear all of the award winners and honorees, you can read a list of titles at School Library Journal‘s blog.

Congratulations to all the winners and honorees!!!  I’ll post the complete list as soon as it becomes available.

6 Word Review: Going Bovine = Cameron in Wonderland

Going Bovine by Libba Bray; published by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, 2009; 480 pages.

Mad cow disease is deadly, especially in humans.  You get swiss-cheese-for-brains.  Hallucinations.  Uncontrollable muscle twitches.  Death.  Cameron finds out the hard way: through personal experience.  As the book opens, Cameron is a typical, kinda outsider 16 year old.  He’s disconnected from family, has no friends to speak of, smokes some weed to fade away and listens to music only to make fun of it.  (In fact, his happiest day was at age 5, at Disney World, where he almost died.)  Then his life takes a wild turn for the worse, and yet it unfolds like it’s for the best.  He lives a lifetime of adventure in two weeks.  Seemingly random trivia from his life takes on a synergy that drives his destiny, his quest “to live.”  His adventure reads like Alice in Wonderland meets Don Quixote and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.

I saw some of the buzz about this book before reading it.  In fact, some reviews kept me from reading it sooner, and I suspect it might keep teens away too.  Calling this book “the first modern book for young adults” is scary and calls to mind stream-0f-consciousness writing with deep meaning.  Seriously, those kinds of reviews crack me up: who are they meant for?  Obviously, not for the intended audience!  What an injustice to a phenomenal story.  This quirky book is about carpe diem, seizing every opportunity, because you never know when you might go bovine.  Since it’s the 2010 Michael Printz award winner, I had to read it.  Ooh, thank goodness it won the award so I would pick it up and travel with Cameron.  I hate to say too much here, to give too much away, because the journey is wacky and wonderful.  (I don’t think mentioning who he’s traveling with is fair either; kinda gives too much away.)  It’s been a very long time since I read a book that made me laugh out loud, nod my head in agreement, and moved me to tears (sadness, hope, resignation?) by the end.  I should’ve known it would become a favorite after reading the acknowledgments (at the beginning rather than the end of the book).  I laughed, I nodded my head in agreement, but I didn’t cry when I read them; I just told everyone I know that this is the best written acknowledgment in any book ever.  Ever.  In the history of books.  Seriously.

I can see this becoming a cult classic, in spite of winning awards and being labeled “modern literature.”  If I’d been able to read this as a young adult, I think my 20s would have been profoundly different.  But then again, maybe not.  Who knows?

4P     5+Q     Grade Level: 9 and up

Cover art: Black background.  Cow carrying a yard gnome under it’s “arm.”  Wacky title in red and white.  Intriguing.  But it’s reputation and word-0f-mouth will keep this book off the shelves for a long time to come.

From Reading List: Michael L. Printz Award winner, 2010

Swashbuckling tales of the sky in Airborn

Airborn by Kenneth Oppel; published by Eos, an imprint of HarperCollins, New York, 2004; 501 pages.

Matt Cruse was born in the air, lost his father in the air, and is most at home in the air.  As cabin boy, this fifteen year old has responsibilities that take him from the crow’s nest to the dining room; but he couldn’t be happier.  Life on the airship (or blimp, as those of us in the shadow of Goodyear call them) is the only life for Matt.  A chance discovery of a foundering hot air balloon launches him and his shipmates on quite an adventure.  The journal of the hot air balloon pilot intrigues his granddaughter, Kate de Vries.  She emplores her parents to send her on Cruse’s airship on a two-week trip that will take her near the mystical island of mystical creatures her grandfather logged in his journal.  With a few air pirates thrown in, Kate and Matt have found so much more than they expected, including danger, discovery and friendship.  As the story closes, the hero and heroine, who single-handedly saved the airship Aurora from certain death at the hands of the pirates, discover lifelong friendship and a taste for adventure beyond what a rich girl and poor boy could ever hope for.

I imagine this story taking place in an alternate history, around the turn of the 20th century.  The language and clothing are clues to the timeframe, but some of the machines and technology are purely fantasty.  This tale of a poor cabin boy who saves the day and finds a better life is trite but works quite well in the hands of Oppel.  The twist to his storytelling is that the rich girl, who is expected to be no more than a socialite, has aspirations of scientific discovery and makes good on her dream to be a scientist.  Adding swashbuckling pirates, a shipwreck, and discovery of a rich treasure (in the form of cloud cats) in a tale of sky travel was also ingenious.

I admit that the 500 or so pages almost kept me from reading the book.  However, when Oppel “friended” me in Facebook, I figured I probably ought to read one of his books.  Having only recently rediscovered the pleasure of reading young adult literature, I was unaware of Kenneth Oppel.  I now find I can’t wait to finish the series about Kate and Matt and then embark on the Silverwing Trilogy.  Will teens want to read it?  I really think it speaks to an audience of adventure-lovers who aren’t interested in fantasy or vampires, but rather love the tales that could almost be true.  No wonder this book was a Michael L. Printz Award Honor Book in 2005.

As a librarian, I am very interested in information literacy.  That being said, I was impressed by all of the extras included at the end of the storytelling.  First, an interview with the author gives us background about him, how he writes, and about the subject matter.  That is followed by a list of web resources “for more exploration.”  Of course, an excerpt from the sequel is included to whet the appetite for the next book.  I really am glad the publisher included the web resources, in particular, but all of the extras add more teachable moments.

4P     5Q     Grade Level: 6-9

airbornCover Art:  The silhouette of a blimp with lights aglow in the gondola is not very interesting.  Even the red lettering of the title does nothing to indicate the adventure that lies between the pages.  I don’t think the cover will be the reason teens pick up this book.  The bright read text on the dark blue background on the inch-thick spine is easily found on the shelves.

Suggested Reading List: Michael L. Printz Award Honor Book, 2005

A Step from Heaven: take a walk in someone else’s shoes

A Step from Heaven by An Na; published Front Street, Asheville, North Carolina, 2001; 156 pages.

Four year old Young Ju does not want to leave Korea, we discover as the novel opens.  She hopes that the airplane, as it climbs higher and higher, is taking her to Heaven so she can visit her grandfather and Jesus; but she is going to America, dubbed “a step from Heaven.”  Na’s riveting prose starts in choppy, phonetic language, in the voice of a four year old struggling with a new language, and grows in its rhythm and complexity as Young Ju develops into a young woman.  As Young Ju grows up, she has to deal with acclimating to a new culture while being forced to retain her Korean heritage (and language) at home.  She also deals with an abusive father—he physically abuses Young Ju, her mother and her brother.  In the end, her father returns to Korea but Young Ju (now bound for college), her mother and her brother remain in California to make a life for themselves in America. 

Na’s story is at once heartbreaking and hopeful.  The story feels real; there is no obvious punishment for the villain and there is no unbelievable good fortune for the heroine.  There is only the perseverance of the human spirit to find hope in all situations.  The way this book was crafted—each chapter a vignette of Young Ju’s life—as well as the presentation of an immigrant’s experience all add up to a phenomenal read worthy of the Michael L. Printz Award.

In our melting pot, it’s imperative for young adults to get a taste of the American experience from the perspectives of those outside the mainstream—such as the struggle of a homeless drug addict in Fat Kid Rules the World or the struggle to assimilate in American Born Chinese.  A Step from Heaven is another book to add to that list.

3P     5Q     Grade Level: 8-12+

a_step_from_heavenCover Art: The sweet smiling face peeking through the sheer drapes is interesting—why is she smiling?  The mystery of her face and the intriguing title probably aren’t enough to get teens to pick this book up; it will have to be a referral.

From Reading List: Michael L. Printz Award, 2002 Winner

The White Darkness rivals Peak

The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean; published by HarperTempest, an imprint of HarperCollins, New York, 2005; 369 pages (including Postscript).

whitedarknessIn some ways, Symone “Sym” Wates is your typical 14 year old—she has low self esteem and daydreams about a different life.  As the story unravels, we discover she is not a typical teen: she is deaf, has an uncle that manipulates her, and has an imaginary friend for solace (oh, by the way, he’s Captian Oates, a brave, romantic figure who was part of Scott’s Antarctic expedition 90 years ago).  Uncle Victor, more family friend than family, has manipulated Sym since her birth—physically and emotionally; he is Sym’s father-figure.  In a major manipulative move, Uncle Victor plans a trip to Paris for Sym and her mother, but her mother’s passport disappears and Sym is off alone with him for a weekend adventure.  Only it’s not a weekend adventure.  Uncle Victor has arranged a trip to Antarctica to try to find the mythical Symme’s Hole (for which she’s been named) that leads into the inner earth where concentric earths exist and aliens live.  She is paired with a Norwegian boy, Sigurd, who is actually an actor and betrays Sym.  In the end, the weak one is the heroine.  In the end, Sym comes of age by saving herself, Sigurd, and even her tragic hero, Captain “Titus” Oates. 

It was serendipitous that I read this immediately after Peak.  Both adventure stories place 14 year old protagonists against the harshest winter weather to find themselves and unmask the lies and truths about their loved ones.  I enjoyed both books equally but in different ways.  Both novels are extraordinarily written, to the point that I had to remember that the authors were not in fact 14 year olds sharing their stories.  However, I found that the adventure in the books differed.  Peak’s adventure was palpable, physical.  Sym’s trials were physical but the story is a psychological study expressed through her emotional catharsis rather than the immediacy of the choices she made.  While I rooted for Peak, I found myself empathizing with Sym.  I think Peak might appeal more to boys but both genders would enjoy The White Darkness.

One point in favor of Peak over The White Darkness is the length of the books.  In some ways, The White Darkness reminds me of Moby Dick—Uncle Victor’s obsession with Symmes’ Hole, for example, as well as the length of the books.  I can remember having to read Moby Dick over Spring Break during my sophomore year of high school and hating it for its length and for ruining my vacation.  The White Darkness is too beautifully written to be assigned over vacation; it needs to be presented as the award-winning treasure that it is.

3P     5Q     Grade Level 9-12*

* Although the protagonist is only 14, and teens typically prefer to read about characters older than themselves, I think the psychological aspect of this book makes it more appropriate for older teens.

Cover Art: The pale face peeking through windblown hair and a furry hooded coat on a snowy white background is haunting and may make a teen curious enough to pick up the book and read the jacket flap.  The sketchy black font on the white spine might also make this title stand out on the shelves.

From Reading List: Michael L. Printz Award, 2008 Winner

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    Automobile Makes Name the automobile makes: 1. river wading place 2. ringed planet 3. famous emancipator 4. weep convulsively 5. Star Wars action figure 6. earth wanderer 7. spotted cat 8. heavy metal 9. evade 10. diminutive 11. endlessness 12. bawl + disparaging remark Check for the answer.