Selection Adventures – The William C. Morris Award

This year, I’ve had the privilege of serving on the committee to select the William C. Morris YA Debut Award. This award is given to the best YA debut book of the year, published between November 1, 2022, and October 31, 2023.

I’m happy to say that at least two committee members read (or read the beginning of) every one of the over two hundred eligible books. When I say “read the beginning of” — we were allowed to stop when we were sure the book would not be a finalist, usually at least fifty pages in. We have chosen our five Finalists, and they will be announced soon. The one winner will be chosen from among those and announced at the Youth Media Awards on January 22, 2024.

One note: When we say “debut book,” it has to be the author’s (and illustrator’s, if there is one) very first book published. If it’s their “YA debut” but not their actual debut, it’s not eligible. So that eliminated some books we got sent.

When I was on the 2019 Newbery Committee, I blogged a lot about the process. I haven’t done that as much for the Morris Award. Maybe I’m getting used to award committees?

It was a different experience from the Newbery. That year, I had really set aside much of my life to focus on the Newbery reading. This year, not as much. But although the Newbery books were shorter, about three times as many books were eligible, so that was necessary.

My stats for the Morris year:
Publishers sent me 136 books.
I read 126 books (or parts of books).
That added up to 20,843 pages read plus 150 hours of listening.

Of course, I can never tell how close some books came that ended up not getting chosen as Finalists. After our Finalists get announced, I plan to start posting reviews of many of the other lovely debut books I got to read this year. As always, I want to commend the authors, whether they won an award or not. And start spreading the word about these great books!

And when you find out which ones are our Finalists, get your hands on them and read them — you’re in for a treat!

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