Conference Corner — Morris Awards and YALSA Nonfiction Awards

The final event of ALA Midwinter Meeting that I attended was the Morris Award and YALSA Nonfiction Award ceremony. I like the way those two awards announce a short list, so that the winners can be there for the ceremony. This year, it turned out that Morris Award Winner John Corey Whaley also won the Printz Award. He was a happy man. I spotted him in the exhibits after the award announcements.

Those are the Morris Award stickers for his book.

Of course, I had to get a picture with him, as did many other youth services librarians. We wanted him to know that to us, he’s a rock star.

At the Award ceremony, some of the authors spoke by video, but I took notes for the ones who spoke in person.

First was Guadalupe Garcia McCall, Morris Honor winning author of Under the Mesquite:
She got the news of winning the Honor while teaching, which was so appropriate, because she wrote the book while teaching.
She remembered being hungry for understanding. Books showed the world to her, empowered her.
She wrote, not to be published, but to be read.
She wrote this story for young people who can’t talk about this. They have great strength within them.
The most important destination of all: Young Readers’ Minds
ala means “wings” in Spanish. So appropriate!

Ruta Sepetys, Honor winner for Between Shades of Gray:
History has secrets.
Through stories, these people become human.

John Corey Whaley, Morris Award Winner for Where Things Come Back (He also learned on the same day that he won the Printz Award.):
Thursday was his birthday. He feels sorry for all his other birthdays.
“I get to be a writer. It means so much to say that.”
“My life is a constant state of shock.”
“There’s no other community I’d rather be part of than the People of YA.”
“…the cool kids who run into things because they’re walking while reading books.”
“I had given up hope that I could be a happy adult.”

Then were the YALSA Awards for Excellence in Nonfiction:

Karen Blumenthal, Honor Award for Bootleg:
One of the strengths of nonfiction: Real stories and real consequences.
“Nonfiction provides a context for a complicated world.”
“In real life, the girl doesn’t always end up with the sparkly vampire.”
The world isn’t black and white, but many shades of messy.
Those who passively observe get to live with the results.

Sue Macy, Honor Award for Wheels of Change
As a teen, her favorite books were This Fabulous Century. She imitated these books.
She takes a thematic approach to this era of history.
There was lots of serendipity in her search.

Steve Sheinkin, Award Winner for The Notorious Benedict Arnold
“Benedict Arnold made people nervous.”
This is a straight-ahead action-adventure rise and fall story.

Afterward, we were given free copies of many of the books and got them signed. Here’s Sue Macy signing Wheels of Change:

This award ceremony isn’t nearly as fancy as the Newbery/Caldecott Banquet or as the Printz Reception, but I think with first-time authors winning the Morris Award, and nonfiction authors who don’t always get as much recognition, it’s guaranteed that the Morris and Nonfiction award ceremony will always be deeply heartfelt.

Conference Corner – 2012 Printz Program and Reception

2012 ALA Annual Conference is done, and I have lots of notes to share! Since I’m way behind on writing up my notes from Midwinter and from PLA, I decided to work backwards. When I finally get to notes I’ve already shared I’ll be done. The goal will be to post at least one Conference Corner post each week, but maybe I can do better. I’d like to catch up before KidLitCon in the Fall or maybe the Horn Book at Simmons symposium or maybe VLA Conference. (Now that my son will be in college, there are so many possibilities!)

The final event for me at ALA Annual Conference this year was the Printz Awards Reception. I always love the Printz speeches. I love it that everyone gives a speech, honor winners and the big honcho award winner. They always make sure to say nice things about libraries and librarians, so their words are treasured.

The night began, not surprisingly seeing who got the Honor award, with comedy. Daniel Handler and Maira Kalman gave a speech together thanking us for the Honor for Why We Broke Up.

Then Daniel Handler played the accordion and sang “Without Libraries We’d be Dum,” with special effects by Maira Kalman. This is worth experiencing!

I got a picture with Daniel Handler at the reception. He seemed pleased that he got it to come out looking like someone had pasted him in. (Maybe I did?)

Next Honor winner was Christine Hinwood for The Returning. She told a great story of finding out she’d won an Honor. She had been without internet access and found out on a train. She said she broke all the rules of British train riding and danced down the aisle.

She said, “Teenagers are people, too.” She writes for people.

She also spoke up for the power of fantasy novels. “The fantasy books she read as a child are not childish.” “Fantasy allows exploring issues. . . without baggage.”

The Returning explores issues about war. How do combatants go back to family and a day job once the war is over? So many are affected by war for so long after the war is over.

Craig Silvey was the next speaker, honored for his book Jasper Jones.

I got a picture with him. He has an adorable Australian accent. He said that YALSA has been “absurdly kind to Australians” in their award choices. Many of us firmly believe it’s to get to hear their accents at the Printz Program.

(Oh look! I think that’s Christine Hinwood right behind me.)

Craig Silvey was quite ill when the Printz call came. He “let it ring out” twice, but finally answered this persistent caller. In his brain-addled state, his first thought was, “Oh my goodness. I’ve been honored by Prince.?” Fortunately, the committee gave him more information before he could follow up on this thought.

Like so many Printz Honorees, he talked about growing up in the library. I liked this line about reading fiction: “The truth, I found, was hidden in the lies.”

He talked about accidentally checking out A Clockwork Orange when he was ten years old. “I learned a very valuable lesson: Stories were powerful.”

Next up was Maggie Stiefvater, honored for the book I loved so much, The Scorpio Races.

Maggie Stiefvater also talked about the power of Fantasy. She began with a reading from Diana Wynne-Jones. 10-year-old Maggie thought the food described was wonderful. And yet it didn’t exist. It was imaginary.

For a truly great book, Maggie Stiefvater wants a book with another world inside it.

What makes us believe in a place? Diana Wynne-Jones showed the symptoms of a culture. It was the little things.

“Thisby is a big place made of tiny little sensations.”

Last of all was the acceptance speech from Printz Award Winner John Corey Whaley, still incredibly cute and still incredibly young.

He, also, had some great things to say about books, reading, teens, and libraries.

“You connect teens to worlds beyond their imaginations.”

John Corey Whaley found the story he was supposed to tell. “Listen closely when you open the book and you may hear the faintest sound of banjos.”

His book asks the question: “Is it possible to grow up in an impossible world?”

Talking about writing, he said, “Don’t we all want to make some dent in the side of the world?”

“Teens want the truth about everything, and they know exactly when they aren’t getting it.”

And he closed off with a rallying cry for libraries:

“Close our libraries, and you close our lives.”

“Tweet this: #SaveALibrary”