Category Archives: Awards
As Black History Month draws to a close, we’d like to celebrate the life and work of one of our most groundbreaking author/illustrators, John Steptoe.
“I am not an exception to the rule among my race of people, I am the rule. By that I mean there are a great many others like me where I come from.”
Born in Brooklyn in 1950, John’s career was filled with highlights of the highest honors: 2 Caldecott Honors, 2 Coretta Scott King Awards for Illustration, among many, many more– but above all he is remembered for his abiding passion for instilling children, especially African-American children, with pride in their identity and ancestry in a time when multicultural books were few and far between.
His first picture book, STEVIE, about an African-American child who resents and then accepts a younger foster brother, was published in 1969 when John was just 18 years old, and remains in print today.
STEVIE, by John Steptoe, ISBN: 9780064431224
John’s best-known book, MUFARO’S BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTERS, was published to huge critical acclaim in 1988. This modern fable about pride going before the fall has been a classic for more than twenty years, the illustrations are absolutely stunning, and the research involved awakened John’s pride in his African ancestry.
MUFARO’S BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTERS: AN AFRICAN TALE, by John Steptoe, ISBN: 9780688040451
If you follow the annual ALA Youth Media Awards, you’ll recognize John’s name from his namesake award: the John Steptoe New Talent Award, which the Coretta Scott King Task force awards annually to a new African-American writer or illustrator whose works “demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values.” Quite a fitting way to honor a man whose work was a shining light blazing a trail forward.
We hope your Black History Month celebrations were fruitful this month and inspire you all year long!
The news is now far and wide, but we want to officially say– yahoo! This past weekend in Seattle at the Midwinter Meeting of the American Library Association, six of our titles were honored by awards committees and we are beyond bowled over with excitement and pride. Congratulations to all– to the authors, editors, fans, and champions of these books. Every Midwinter we are so grateful to be reminded that the community we book-people live and work within is vibrant, supportive, and very, very much alive and kicking. We are all in it together.
- Newbery Medal Winner: THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN, by Katherine Applegate. (see our previous post about IVAN here, and our discussion guide here)
- Caldecott Honor: EXTRA YARN, by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen.
- Printz Honor: DODGER, by Terry Pratchett (see a special note from Terry about Dodger here)
- Schneider Family Book Award: A DOG CALLED HOMELESS, by Sarah Lean
- Geisel Honor: PETE THE CAT AND HIS FOUR GROOVY BUTTONS, created and illustrated by James Dean, story by Eric Litwin
- Morris Award Finalist: THE MISEDUCATION OF CAMERON POST, by emily m. danforth
All of our award-winning books living together in harmony.
Newbery Committee member Susannah Richards placing IVAN’s shiny sticker!
EXTRA YARN co-editor (VP and co-publisher of Balzer + Bray) Alessandra Balzer doing the honors!
Printz Committee friends giving DODGER their love.
Congratulations to all authors and illustrators honored with 2013 awards, and the biggest and humblest of thank you’s to the awards committees for their hard work, dedication, and the countless hours they spent this past year reading and discussing books. Now we wish we could fast-forward to June and our official ALA celebrations!
Back in January, the lovely and talented Lili Wilkinson won a Stonewall Book Award Honor in the Children’s and Young Adult division for her young adult book (and U.S. debut) PINK, a lively and resonant look at a teen’s attempts to don a new personality and figure out who she really wants to be. What a treat to be able to share her remarks here, read at the Stonewall’s ALA Annual celebration by Lili’s wonderful editor, Anne Hoppe.
Now, on to it!
“Good evening. My apologies for not being here – Australia is a very long way away.
I’d like to start by thanking the Australian publisher of Pink – Allen & Unwin, in particular my editors Jodie Webster and Hilary Reynolds.
And if it’s not too awkward for her to read this out loud, I must also thank the wonderful Anne Hoppe and everyone else at HarperCollins. Pink is the first of my books to reach American shores, and you have given it such a warm welcome and loving home. Thank you for the gorgeous cover. Thank you for putting it into the hands of teenage readers. Thanks especially for your help in translating the book into American while keeping its Australian setting and flavour.
And of course thanks to my fabulous agent Kate Schafer Testerman, for working so tirelessly to find my books homes in the US.
The book is dedicated to publisher and writer extraordinaire David Levithan, and I wanted to take a moment to explain why.
Many years ago David came to the Reading Matters conference in Melbourne, which I used to help organise. David made an impassioned speech about how teachers, publishers, parents, librarians and other “gatekeepers” have a responsibility to help young people kill the vampires.
… This was pre-Twilight, I should add.
David was referring to a song called Die Vampires Die from an off-Broadway musical called Title of Show. A vampire, in this case, is “any person, thought or feeling that stands between you and your creative self expression.” They creep around and whisper in your ears, saying things like “Your teeth need whitening. You went to state school? You sound weird. Shakespeare, Sondheim and Sedaris did it before you, and better than you.” They tell you you’re not good enough, and you can’t help believing them.
One of the ways we could help young people kill these vampires, suggested David, was by making sure that every teenager could see themselves reflected on the shelves of their libraries and bookshops. And, in his opinion, when it came to books about gay teenagers, we were failing to do that.
The speech received a standing ovation, and I’m proud to say that the Australian publishers, teachers and librarians in the room listened, and since then things have started to change.
But I got to thinking. I’d read books about gay teenagers. Not many, certainly. But I had read a few – David’s not least among them. But I couldn’t think of any books I’d read about the teenagers who aren’t sure. And really, who’s sure about anything when they’re sixteen? I wanted to write a book for those teenagers. I wanted to write a book that said – there are some things you never have to definitively decide on. You don’t ever have to put yourself in a closed-off, past-the-point-of-no-return box, and you really don’t have to do it when you’re sixteen. It’s okay if you’re not sure.
So I wrote Pink.
Books about girls often don’t win awards. We focus a lot of our attention on getting boys reading. I visited an all-girls secondary school recently where not one book was studied that featured a female protagonist. And funny books with pink covers are even less likely to catch the attention of academics and awards judges. When you get home, have a look at how much academic analysis there is of authors like Meg Cabot, Maureen Johnson, Cathy Cassidy or Louise Rennison. Is it because their books are shallow and insubstantial? Cabot’s The Princess Diaries is about a teenage environmentalist who brings democracy to a small European principality. Just because a book is funny and romantic, doesn’t mean it has nothing to say.
Someone asked me the other day why all of my books feature strong, female protagonists. Confused, I repeated what Joss Whedon had said when he was asked the same thing: “Because you’re still asking me that question.”
I love writing about strong, funny, flawed girls who are curious about the world. I love writing romance. I love writing books that make the reader think, that encourage them see the world in different ways.
Which brings me back to Pink, and to my thank yous. More than anything, I want to thank the judges that saw fit to recognise Pink. It means so much to me that a funny, romantic pink book from the other side of the world is to be given such a prestigious honour, to sit alongside amazing writers like Brian Farrey, Ilike Merey, Paul Yee and of course Bil Wright.
The importance of organisations like the American Library Association, and awards like the Stonewall, cannot be overestimated, and as an author I am immensely proud to have that sticker on my book. It’s also lovely that it matches the cover.
My final thank you is on behalf of the teenage readers who have written to me and come up to me at schools and festivals to tell me how Pink made a difference to them. It’s a thank you to the gatekeepers: the publishers, teachers, librarians and parents who make sure that all teenagers are reflected on bookshelves. Thank you for fighting the good fight. Thank you for helping to kill those vampires.”
Thank you, Lili! We’re honored to be your publisher, and inspired by your words.
Truly, our cup is overflowing. Everyone here is beyond excited and incredibly proud of our award winning books and authors, announced this Monday at the ALA Midwinter Meeting. An astounding amount of work, love, patience, devotion, and hope goes into each book that’s published, and we’re honored to be part of the process that helps carry an author’s dream from their heart out into the world. Let us share our sincerest congratulations to all of our recognized authors and illustrators.
- INSIDE OUT & BACK AGAIN, by Thanhha Lai: John Newbery Honor
- HEART AND SOUL, written and illustrated by Kadir Nelson: Coretta Scott King (Author) Award and (Illustrator) Honor
- THE GREAT MIGRATION, written by Eloise Greenfield, illustrations by Jan Spivey Gilchrist: Coretta Scott King (Author) Honor
- PINK, by Lili Wilkinson: Stonewall Honor
- THE GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS, by Rae Carson: William C. Morris Award Finalist
We have a ceremony of our own back in our booth after the awards announcements, wherein we do a little drumroll as we place the medal on each book. And behold, it is very good.
And for your browsing pleasure, a few links to past Page Turn posts on our winners:
Things might be a little quiet over here at the blog this week, because the team is packing up and heading to Dallas, Texas to attend the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting. We love this conference– we catch up with old friends, make new ones, promote our terrific upcoming books, and scope the scene for what’s about to pop onto our radar.
If you’ll be at Midwinter too, please stop by our booth (#1528) and say hello! We have LOTS of galleys to give out, including UNDER THE NEVER SKY by Veronica Rossi, Sara Pennypacker’s middle grade SUMMER OF THE GYPSY MOTHS, Adam Rex’s first-in-a-trilogy COLD CEREAL, and PANDEMONIUM, Lauren Oliver’s follow up to DELIRIUM*. Plus you absolutely must meet Penny, Kevin Henkes‘ newest mouse, whose sweet story is sure to win a place in your heart.
See you in Dallas, y’all!
*Limited quantities available.
And what’s that she’s holding? Why it’s an award from the National Council of Teachers of English for “outstanding performance in writing,” awarded to her in 2005 while she was still a wee high school student. And now it’s all come full circle– Veronica will be at NCTE’s Annual Convention this year (the 100th anniversary!), signing DIVERGENT in the HarperCollins Children’s Booth (#513) and speaking on an ALAN Workshop (Assembly on Literature for Adolescents) panel about future worlds. Those NCTE folks sure know what they’re talking about!
A regular on the top banned and challenged books list, ANGUS, THONGS, AND FULL-FRONTAL SNOGGING by the fabulous Louise Rennison has a cult following (um, include me in that cult!). The book has been challenged for a multitude of reasons: age inappropriateness, profanity, and sexual content. It has also made the Top 100 list, which we can’t help but consider a distinction!
Today’s booktalk is by the uber-fabbity-fab Sarah Bean Thompson, librarian and blogger (GreenBeanTeenQueen). She’s also on the 2013 Printz committee! She’s a fan of Louise Rennison’s Georgia Nicolson stories and contributed a booktalk that you can use all year long in your programming:
Join Georgia Nicolson and The Ace Gang for a fabbity fab adventure through the craziness of high school. Georgia is madly in love with the sex god, Robbie. Too bad Robbie has a girlfriend who happens to be the annoying wet Lindsey. Georgia knows that she could get Robbie to fall in love with her if only she had the chance. And if high school and love triangles weren’t bad enough, Georgia has to deal with her fat cat Angus who is always causing problems and her embarrassing three-year-old sister who is not as cute as everyone thinks. Georgia’s adventures are always full of laughs as her entries into her diary recount her attempts to survive school, boys, and big noses. Growing up is never easy, but at least Georgia Nicolson manages to make it fun.
Thanks, Sarah, for joining us! For additional info to support your programming and curriculum, check out the Georgia Nicolson reading guide. I’m also a bit of an evangelist for the Georgia Nicolson website so check that out for a glossary, the complete snogging scale, and quizzes.
Last but not least, I’ll leave you with the trailer for the the ANGUS, THONGS, AND FULL-FRONTAL SNOGGING trailer:
In addition to appearing on the list regularly, Katherine Paterson’s BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA was a Top 10 Banned Book in 2003. It is also ranked in the Top 10 Banned Books of the decade, 1990-2010. It has been challenged and banned for using the lord’s name in vain, secular humanism, occultism, offensive language, and death as a major theme.
So let’s booktalk it! We asked Jen Bigheart – blogger at I Read Banned Books, librarian, and founding member of Literary Lonestars – to contribute a booktalk for BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA; feel free to use it in your own classrooms and libraries to support the Freedom to Read year-round:
Living in a small, rural town in the late 1970s with his parents and four sisters is far from exciting for fifth-grader Jess Aarons. When tomboy Leslie Burke moves into the house down the hill, the two strike up an unlikely friendship that doesn’t go unnoticed by Jess’ family and classmates. The two sneak deep into the woods as King and Queen of Terabithia, conquering hostile savages and getting lost in their imaginative play. When an unexpected tragedy strikes, Jess realizes that Leslie was more than just a friend and play partner. She was his ticket to freedom from his mundane home life and gave him a gift beyond measure: courage.
Thanks so much, Jen!
I hope everyone enjoyed the holiday weekend! It seems that Mother Nature decided this weekend really did herald in the autumn, as it’s drizzly and chilly in NYC today. It turns out it’s the best weather to hunker down and catch up on blog reading. Here are some interesting links we’ve been reading lately:
- The Book Blogger Appreciation Week 2011 shortlist just came out and CONGRATULATIONS to author Veronica Roth (DIVERGENT) for her nomination in the “Published Author Blog” category. Thanks to Lee Wind at I’m Here, I’m Queer, What the Hell Do I Read? for the link (and congrats to his nomination as well)!
- There’s still time to have the teens in your library or classroom vote for YALSA’S Teens’ Top 10 – they have until September 16th.
- Family of robots? Bookshelves of Doom does it again: makes me laugh hysterically first thing in the morning before I’ve even had coffee.
- The time has come: awards buzz is in full effect. Heavy Medal has started their coverage of all things Newbery. There doesn’t appear to be a link yet, but keep an eye out for Horn Book‘s own blog, Calling Caldecott.
- Liz Burns over at A Chair, A Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy had quite the ordeal, courtesy of Hurricane Irene. Read her story and check out her links of other bloggers with Irene stories.
- Snape voted the favorite Harry Potter character? Really??? It’s a total upset. Me, I’m a Hermione fan through and through. And you?
- Sam over at Parenthetical has a fascinating blog post, “To RSS or not to RSS?” Really? Only 6% of North American, Internet-using consumers use an RSS feed once a week or more? That floors me, as I couldn’t live without Google Reader to help me keep it all organized (and I couldn’t live without my Bloglines before that, nor could Liz). What do you think? When everyone and their brother has a blog out there, how do you keep it all organized?
- Once again, Seattle Public Library closes for a week due to budget cuts. I think the quote at the end really gets to the crux of the problem: “You kind of take it for granted – and then suddenly you miss it when it’s gone.”
- Doing last-minute book buying for school? Here’s a list of some back-to-school titles from the New York Times.
Have a great (short!) week, everyone, and enjoy the cooler weather!