Wednesday, July 8, 2015

ALA Conference Part 2 - YALSA Author Events

Each year, the American Library Association announces the Youth Media Awards during its Midwinter conference in late January. I have never been able to attend this event live, although I do watch the live stream if I can. As a high school librarian, I am always especially keen to learn the awards presented by YALSA, the Young Adult Library Services Association ALA Division, including the Alex, Edwards, Morris, Nonfiction, Odyssey, and Printz Awards. As I am hearing the winners announced, I always wish I could be there to enjoy the group anticipation and excitement as the announcements are made. Really, though, I consider myself very fortunate that I have been able to attend ALA's Annual conference in June, since that's actually when many of the award-winning authors attend, receive their awards, and share about their books. At this year's conference, I had the delightful experience of attending the awards sessions for the Alex, Odyssey, and Printz Awards, as well as a YA Author Coffee Klatch, all sponsored by YALSA. (The Odyssey Awards are also jointly sponsored by ALSC, the ALA's children's library division,)

Printz Awards

The Printz Awards Ceremony and Reception took place on Friday night, the first evening of the conference. This is the second year that program included a panel discussion with the winner and the three honor book winners: Jandy Nelson, winner for I'll Give You the Sun, and honor book authors Jenny Hubbard, Andrew Smith, and the Mariko Tamaki/Jillian Tamaki author/illustrator team. I love that format, since we got to hear from all the authors. I had read all the books, so was excited to hear all of them. One of the interesting topics was how they work and revise. Jandy Nelson shared that it took her two and a half years to write her book, and tons of revisions. She also mentioned that she kept the documents with the two different character's story lines completely separate while she was writing and only merged them at the end. Most of the other authors also talked about a long revision and rewriting process. In contract, Andrew Smith says he writes only one draft! I'm always fascinated to hear about such different techniques.

If you haven't read all of these books yet, put them on your list! Here's a Thinglink image I created for my school with links to book trailers, audio clips, and author commentary I could find:

After the formal part of the session, we got to mingle at a reception for the authors. I was lucky to get to meet three of them. I am always amazed how friendly and open these rock stars are!

The Alex Awards

The Alex Awards recognize 10 adult books with particular cross-over appeal for young adults. Here's a Thinglink image of the 10 that I prepared for my school:

Five of the authors - Anthony Doerr, Kate Racculia, John Scalzi, Zak Ebrahim, and Michael Kortya - were able to attend and speak at the event. I have been working my way through reading these books and was very excited that Doerr, Racculia, and Ebrahim, whose books I loved, were speaking. And, after hearing Scalzi and Kortya, I couldn't wait to read their books also, and made them my first reads after the conference. Each of the books is incredibly different, from Doerr's moving historical fiction based during World War II, Racculia's mystery / ghost story, Scalzi's futuristic science fiction murder mystery, Ebrahim's memoir of living with a terrorist father, to Koryta's contemporary murder mystery set in the Montana mountains. Several of the speeches moved both the authors and their audience to tears, as do the authors' books. These are all also not-to-be missed titles! The last three of the ten are on my "next reads" list.

Odyssey Awards
My third awards event was the Odyssey Awards for the best audiobooks of the year. At this session, the narrators of the winning audiobook and the honor audiobooks speak and read a passage from their books. I had only read one of them, The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry, narrated by Jayne Entwistle. It is such an amazing experience seeing and hearing someone in person who I had previously known only as a narrator on a recording. Entwistle was captivating both in her recording and in person, and she warmed us all sharing her personal love of books.

Cassandra Morris, narrator of A Snicker of Magic couldn't be there, but we were treated to both the authors and narrator for Five, Six, Seven, Nate!, since Tim Federle served as narrator for his own book. I loved hearing him share how he learned to turn weaknesses, into a strength, even narrating his book despite growing up with a lisp.  Last, we heard from the author of the winning book, H.O.R.S.E. A Game of Basketball and Imagination, Christopher Myers, who also narrated  along with Dion Graham. They brought the event to a wonderful conclusion, sharing their belief in the important skill of listening, and that bringing the narrators to a live event also enriches the experience with conversation.

YA Author Coffee Klatch

One other YALSA Author event I attended for the first time was the YA Author Coffee Klatch. At this event, we all sat at round tables, and, every five minutes a new author came to visit the table and tell us about his/her book. Our table got Jandy Nelson as our first guest! I already knew about I'll Give You the Sun, of course, but it was such fun seeing her again. I also got a second chance to hear Printz Honor book This One Summer author and illustrator Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki and to hear about their new books. And, all the other authors' books were new to me. We had visits from:

  • Nova Ren Suma, author of The Walls Around Us, the story about a girls' detention center
  • Allan Stratton, author of The Dogs, an intriguing psychological thriller
  • Bill Konigsberg, author of A Porcupine of Truth about two teens on an epic road of discovery
  • Rae Carson, author of Walk on Earth a Stranger set in the Gold Rush era with a fantasy twist
  • Jack Gantos, author of The Trouble in Me, an autobiographical account of some incidents in his troubled teen years
  • Martha Burkenbrough, author of The Game of Love and Death, a fantasy and historical fiction set in 1937 Seattle
  • Ginny Rorby, author of Hurt Go Happy & forthcoming How to Speak Dolphin, both exploring issues of teens with disabilities. 
So many wonderful new options to read and share with my students! Here's my take home piles of all the books to add to my library collection and ARCs (advanced reader copies) to share with students and teachers:

You can tell how I'll be spending a lot of my summer vacation ....

Many thanks to YALSA and all the wonderful authors and publishers for these great opportunities to learn more about books and authors that will enrich my library and reach my students.

For more about my ALA Conference experience, see my last posting, "The ALA Conference: A Perfect Time and Location." I'll also be writing one more posting focusing on the AASL events I attended.

1 comment:

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