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!


YA authors share all sides of issue in Dear Bully

Dear Bully edited by Carrie Jones and Megan Kelley Hall; published by Harper Teen, 2011; 384 pages.

In this anthology, 70 authors share their stories of bullying, whether from the perspective of the perpetrator, victim, or silent bystander.  Authors range from R. L. Stine, Jon Scieszka and Mo Willems to Michelle Zink, Lauren Oliver, Ellen Hopkins and Cynthia Leitich Smith.  All tales are brief (about two pages) and heartfelt; some lay painfully naked on the page.  In the end, all angles of the subject have been explored.

So many of the tales made me want to cry.  Even the remorse expressed by authors who did the bullying was moving.  Sometimes an author offers concrete advice (like R. L. Stine’s use of humor) and sometimes the author just lets victims know that it does get better.  Sometimes an author who thought they were never bullied reflected on a pattern of verbal abuse (read about the ramifications of sexting) and now realize they’d been victimized.  Some authors were bullies and regret is desperately, as do many who were silent witnesses to bullying.

The main lesson I took from reading the book is that bullying affects everyone and it’s often overlooked or excused.  With so many schools addressing bullying head on, with zero tolerance policies, this is a must-have book for libraries (public and school).  Guidance counselors would be well advised to keep a copy in their offices.  Teens will surely flip to the accounts of their favorite authors and will hopefully read on.

5P     4Q     Grade Level: 8+

Cover Art: We all know teens are attracted to covers with faces.  This one is compelling because of the face with the overlay of contributors names: intimating that we all have to take responsibility for this pandemic.

From Reading List: Too Good to Be True Nonfiction

Nothing is as it seems in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs; published by Quirk Books, Philadelphia, 2011; 348 pages.

Jacob’s life seems ordinary enough.  His mother has a career that keeps her away from home and his father can’t seem to finish a project.  He has only one friend, and that seems to be based on mutual need.  The only person that means anything to the 16 year old is his grandfather, Abraham Portman.  Their bond grew threw the years as Grandpa Portman shared his collection of bizarre pictures, supposedly images of other children he grew up with at Miss Peregrine’s Home for children in Wales, a sort of safe harbor for children during the horrors of World War II.  With his grandfather’s grisly death in the woods behind his Florida home, Jacob sets off for Wales to inspect the home and try to come to terms with the truth about Abraham’s past.  What Jacob discovers bends reality and obliterates time.  His life has become extraordinary.

I once spent weekends combing through boxes of old, old photos at flea markets with a long-gone boyfriend.  We liked to find the most absurd, scary, silly and strange images and make up stories.  If I knew then….  Ransom Riggs has combined some of those creepy images with a mind-bending tale of good vs. evil.  Without the images, the book would be just another atmospheric tale set somewhere in the Twilight Zone.  With the images, the creep factor is cranked up a notch.  Riggs’ writing is formal, like the memoirs of an old man; and for telling Abraham’s and Jacob’s stories, the style fits perfectly.  Add end pages that mimic old books and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is the complete, creepy package.

Not convinced about the weird creepiness of this book?  Tim Burton is rumored to be interested in directing a movie version and a screenwriter has signed on. lists the project as “in development” and its release is expected in 2013.

4P     4Q     Grade Level: 10+

Cover Art: An image from the body of the book is on the cover, with more displayed on the back.  Creepy.  And the font used in the title is at once old-timey and Stephen King-creepy.  Perfection.

From Reading List: The Way It Could Be (Science Fiction or Fantasy)

2011 Teen Buckeye Book Award winners announced

Ohio teens read then nominate their favorite books.  The books with the most votes win the Teen Buckeye Book Award.  And the winners for 2011 are…

Grades 6-8:

Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper

Grades 9-12:

The Exiled Queen (Seven Realms, Book 2) by Cinda Williams Chima

Congratulations to all winners!  For more information about the Teen Buckeye Book Award, visit their website:  Winners for grades 6-8 are included in the voting for the Buckeye Children’s Book Award (here:

The Disenchantments strike a common chord

The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour; published by Dutton Books, New York, 2012; 320 pages.

NOTE: This review is based on an ARC provided for free by the publisher.  The publication information is subject to change.   Expected publication date is February 16, 2012.  Part of this review originally posted on and follows.  

How do you transition from high school to life-after?  For these four friends, they hit the road with the all-girl band, The Disenchantments, on their way to drop one off at college.  Colby, the only guy on the road trip and our narrator, has borrowed his uncle’s vintage VW Van (named Melinda) and will be the girls’ roadie.  His best friend since, like, forever, is Bev, lead singer of the band.  Sisters Meg and Alexa round out the power trio and it is Meg who will be staying in Portland to attend college.  Alexa will return to San Francisco to finish her senior year of high school.  Colby and Bev will be heading to Europe to backpack for a year, realizing their four-year-old dream of seeing amazing island chains, art, and Colby’s mom.  But, life has a way of mixing things up and the four teenagers discover this in the cramped interior of Melinda and in cheap motel rooms.  Disappointments, secrets and the unexpected threaten all of their plans.  Can their friendship, and even romance, survive?  I was smitten by all of the characters and grew to care about each of them, even the quirky tattoo artist, Jasper.  As realistic fiction goes, this is an easy read full of heart, heartbreak and the chance to follow where the heart leads.  As coming of age fiction, it hits all the points of self-discovery, growth (and outgrowing), and saying goodbye.

I’d like to add that I was very happy to read about Alexa and Meg’s “two dads” in a very matter-of-fact way.  Also, the marriage troubles that plagued other adults were handled in a way that reflected real life.  It was refreshing to read about problems that were subtext to the main plot.  Every teen or young adult will relate to at least one of the characters.  Everyone struggles with family, friends, and future issues just like the protagonists in The Disenchantments.  One line in the book summed up the whole “coming of age” struggle faced by high school (and even college) seniors: “In just a little while we will forget all the things we used to want and adjust to the lives that we’re given.” (page 146 in the ARC edition)

4P     3.5 Q     Grade Level: 10-12+

Cover art: I guess this is supposed to be Bev, wearing Colby’s sunglasses.  I assume it’s meant to attract its target audience with the real person look.  However, after reading so much about Colby’s logo for The Disenchantments, I believe a black cover with the silver logo would be far more interesting than this one.

From Reading List: Keepin’ It Real (Realistic Fiction)


Winter Town by Stephen Emond; published by Little, Brown and Company, New York, 2011; 336 pages.

NOTE: This review is based on an ARC (advance reading copy) provided for free by the publisher.  The publication information is subject to change.  Expected publication date is December 5, 2011.

Evan and Lucy have been best friends since childhood.  The past few years have meant that they only see each other over winter break because Lucy’s parents have divorced.  Now they’re on the brink of graduating high school.  Maybe they’re the proof that opposites attract; everything about them, from family to future plans, diverge.  Evan’s bound for an Ivy League school while Lucy has become “New Lucy” who scowls and cuts school.  Evan misses “Old Lucy” but will he be able to find her under the choppy black hair and nose stud?  Lucy wants Evan to pursue his artistic side rather than follow the path his father has cut for him.  After this final high school Christmas break, they may not see each other again.  In their own ways, they work hard to make the most of the time they have.

Emond has created a dual-diary style story using comic strips, sketches and narration from both main characters.  It works so well because we first feel Evan’s frustration then ache with Lucy’s losses.  This realistic, coming-of-age story will find it’s audience relating to one or both of the characters as they find themselves on the brink of making decisions that will affect their adult lives.

The use of comic strips adds a unique insight into the characters.  When Evan and Lucy alternate drawing panels in their comic strip game, we get glimpses into Lucy’s internal struggles as Evan narrates.  Through the Aelysthia comic strip, we see Evan’s struggles and vision (or lack of one) of the future.  Even the chapter titles, often quoting Beatles lyrics (Evan’s favorite band) let’s us in on what’s to come.  Everything in the books is well thought out and works together to tell the whole story of Evan and Lucy.

By the way, Emond includes a bonus section at the back of the book.  Sketches of the characters as he tried different looks for them is included, as is his thoughts on the creative processes for writing and art.  It was an interesting look at the author, the characters and how the story developed.

4P     4Q     Grade Level: 9-12

Cover Art: The ARC I received has a great, artistic cover featuring a dark blue wintery sky with snow falling; the snow lands in drifts of paper-punch rounds as a white silhouette plows through the storm, head down and a little battle-worn.  I read this book in a variety of locations, including a waiting room and high school student center.  Well, I shouldn’t say “read” because I was interrupted so often I finally put it away to read in private.  Almost every teen that passed (and some young adults) asked me what the book was.  Catchy cover, to be sure.

From Reading List: Keepin’ It Real (Realistic Fiction)

Sara Zarr knows How to Save a Life

How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr; published by Little, Brown and Company, New York, 2011; 341 pages.

NOTE: This review is based on an ARC (advance reading copy) provided for free by the publisher.  The publication information is subject to change.  The book was released in October, 2011.

Jill’s dad died in a tragic car accident.  She’s not over her grief even a year later.  Her mom, Robin, has found a crazy way to get past her grief: adopt a baby.  On a website dedicated to open adoption, matching babies with families without legal intervention, Robin has chosen Mandy’s child to become part of the family.  Mandy comes into the MacSweeney home with a whole lot of baggage; lies, manipulation and a couple of big secrets.  Whose life will be saved by the end of the book is anyone’s guess.

Wow.  I’m impressed.  It didn’t take me long to get to suspension of disbelief (online message board? picking a birth mom and bringing her into your home sight unseen? really?).  Zarr’s ability to tell the story from both Mandy and Jill’s perspectives is remarkable.  Mandy’s paradox of innocence and manipulation actually endears her.  I liked that her narration is printed in a sans-serif, non-traditional font; it suits her.  Jill, too, is a believable character, hiding in silent grief then slowly melting into a concerned friend and loving daughter.  Her narration is told with a more traditional, Times New Roman looking font.

Teen girls will love this book.  Teen pregnancy is not glorified.  The tortures of deciding whether or not to keep a baby are also realistically covered.  Other issues, which I will not divulge, are also handled in a realistic yet sensitive manner.  Character development is believable; no uninspired moments of unexpected growth here.  Zarr has captured and delivered a realistic story with believably likable characters.  She also captures the blurred definitions of family, friends and parenthood, revealing the most altruistic definitions of them all.

I expect big things for this book, which has already received a number of starred reviews.

5P     5Q     Grade Level: 10-12+

Cover Art: The ARC cover and the final cover don’t appear significantly different, but I think they are.  Both are cold, lonely snow scenes, with empty benches and lots of blankness.  Two sets of footprints appear in the snow on both covers.  However, the addition of a seated blond (obviously Mandy) on the final cover detracts from the fact that multiple lives are saved in this story; that Mandy’s is not the only story revealed.  However, I do think the blurred edges of the title are appropriate to the fuzzy lines between what friends, family and parenthood really mean.

From Reading List: Keepin’ It Real (Realistic Fiction)

Advanced Reader Copy cover

How to Save a Life final cover

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