Monday, January 25, 2010

Who Will Read About Whom?

Responding to the drama about Bloomsbury twice whitewashing a character on a book jacket, Mitali Perkins has a poll going on about how young readers react to covers with non-white characters. Go on over and cast your vote.

One thing and one thing only I want to say about the Bloomsbury covers and the call to boycott the publisher: Doesn't anyone think it's great that Bloomsbury is actually publishing books about kids of color where the color is not exactly the main thing? Okay, two more things: would Liar and Magic Under Glass have been published if their authors were not white, and would the covers have been the same?

How to fix BBYA

Liz Burns and Marc Aronson have been keeping an eye on the Best Books for Young Adults drama. That list is going to become strictly YA fiction; the Alex Awards (adult books of potential interest and value to teens) and) list will get bigger, thus picking up the adult book slack; and the new YALSA nonfiction award will publicize its list of nominations, thus theoretically increasing the visibility of nonfiction.

The reason given for the change is that too many books get nominated for BBYA and committee members feel overburdened by the reading. But if I have this right, only one committee member (or YALSA member) needs to nominate a book to get it onto that big list. When I was on BBYA back in dinosaur times, this nomination process produced some true stinkers, books that were only nominated because someone felt bad about not doing something for a book he or she got free in the mail. (Let's hope the nonfiction award contenders are going to be nominated with a bit more rigor if they are going to be publicized as recommended books.) Why not simply increase the number of nominations needed to, say, three? A book that has only one nomination for a choice made by a committee of fifteen is not going to make the list, so why waste everyone's time?

I also worry that the decision is shortsighted. The money in children's publishing right now is in YA fiction, aided by a now-passing boom in the teen population and an adult crossover readership, which will also pass once adult publishing figures out how to make even more money from these readers. At its best, the BBYA list displays the intersection at which YA librarianship is supposed to live: fiction and nonfiction, adult and juvenile, words and pictures (graphic novels are also banished from the new list and relegated to their own.) I think what the new system gives us is a bunch of bitty lists whose individual and collective power will be considerably diminished. It's similar to what happens when you have give out too many awards--whoops, that's another post.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Pictures from an exhibition

First up Kristin Cashore, sore but happy about her previous day, spent learning the TRAPEZE.

Mitali Perkins is convinced that social networking can sell books. She sure is good at it, too. (photo credit Judith Jango-Cohen)

Lois was really happy when I told her that the third Stieg Larsson book was available from amazon u.k.

M.T. Anderson doesn't eat broccoli because he likes it but because it is good for his writing. Plus--pass it on--he likes chick flicks.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Awards page

Kitty, Lolly and intern Shara have worked indefatigably to bring you the ALA Awards page, which lists all the winners announced on Monday and includes links to our reviews where available.

One more award

I was a member of the ALSC Distinguished Service Award committee this year, along with Cynthia Richey (chair, and a new friend), Joan Atkinson (an old YASD--yes, that old--buddy with whom it was great fun to work again), Peggy Sullivan (who I've known since library school), and Terry Borzumato-Greenberg (from Holiday House; the youngest person in the room but who I also feel I've known forever), and with great pleasure we selected Margaret (Maggie) Bush, professor emerita at the GSLIS of Simmons College, as the winner. I knew Maggie slightly before I came to the Horn Book in 1996, but once I was in Boston I realized she was the Zena of New England, sending generations of children's librarians out into the world to continue her good work. Congrats, Maggie!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Nikki Grimes said it best

Give Jerry Pinkney the damn medal, already!" and I have to say I was never so happy to not be surprised. We are working on the awards webpage, with a listing of all the winners and links to our reviews, right now; in the meantime you can read my interviews with Medalists Jerry Pinkney and Rebecca Stead.

Our "Five Questions for . . ." series at Midwinter on Saturday went really well, good answers and large audiences and (except for a glitch when I interviewed the most tech-savvy of all, Mitali Perkins, so embarrassing) a working sound system. I'll post pictures tomorrow after I figure out how to get 'em out of the camera.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Dancing boys and beautiful women

Just a reminder--if you are at the ALA conference this weekend do stop by the Horn Book booth, #1564. I'll be there on Saturday, pretty much all day, and Sunday afternoon. We are giving away copies of the January-February issue of the Magazine, and on Saturday I'll be conducting the following "Five Questions for . . ." interviews:

11:00 a.m. Kristin Cashore

12:00 p.m. Mitali Perkins

2:00 p.m. Lois Lowry

3:00 p.m. M.T. Anderson

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I heard she moved to California

but I guess she's also gone Hollywood. From a Little, Brown press release heralding Cornelia Funke's Reckless, forthcoming in September:

This sweeping story, which will delight Funke’s legion of fans and garner her new ones, was inspired by Grimm’s Fairy Tales and developed with film-maker Lionel Wigram, executive producer of the Harry Potter films and producer/co-writer of the recent Sherlock Holmes blockbuster.
I'm assuming she will still write the thing, unless of course she has People For That.

January Notes

The new issue of Notes from the Horn Book, featuring an interview (excerpted from the forthcoming March/April issue of the Magazine) with our new Ambassador, Katherine Paterson, is out. Also: stormy fiction, picture book bios, animal tales and the Five Best Books by Katherine Paterson According to Me.

The new look . . .

. . . of the Horn Book Magazine. I've been getting some complimentary emails but am wondering what you all think, especially since we are still tinkering.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Jenny from the Block feels your pain

People all over the Internet are making of fun of Jennifer Lopez for the remarks reproduced below, but to me she sounds like just about every author or illustrator of children's books I know. Especially this week.

I feel like I had that [Oscar worthy role] in El Cantante, but I don’t even think the academy members saw it. I feel like it’s their responsibility to do that, to see everything that’s out there, everything that could be great. Well, it is a little bit frustrating. It was funny; when the Oscars were on, I had just given birth on the 22nd, and the Oscars, I think, were a day or two later. I was sitting there with my twins—I couldn’t have been happier—but I was like, ‘How dope would it have been if I would’ve won the Oscar and been here in my hospital bed accepting the award?’ ‘Thank you so much! I just want to thank the academy!’ But we joked about it. It’s all good. Things will happen when they’re supposed to happen. I have the utmost faith and no doubt that it will one day, when and if it’s supposed to. You can’t get all crazy twisted over it.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Five questions for . . .

Click the link for the interview schedule at ALA Midwinter. And if you have any questions for Kristin Cashore, Mitali Perkins, Lois Lowry or M. T. Anderson, leave 'em in the comments. (But, no, I will not ask Lois if she's sorry to have won the Newbery for The Giver.)

Thursday, January 07, 2010

More than words can say

Prompted by the announcement that The Storm in the Barn had won the Scott O'Dell Award, there's been a question asked over at Twitter about the eligibility of a graphic novel for a prize for historical fiction. I can't speak for the other judges but it never occurred to me to think otherwise. As far as I'm concerned, historical fiction is an invented tale which not only takes place in the past but proposes to shed some kind of light on an actual event or situation of historical import. The Storm in the Barn has all the ingredients of great fiction--astute characterization, evocative atmosphere, a compelling story, a theme rewarding consideration--and gives us a unique vision of the Dirty Thirties. How is it not historical fiction? Yes, it mostly tells its story through pictures, but it's still a book, still a narrative, still fiction. While the criteria for the O'Dell Award do require that a winning book be published and set in the Americas, they say nothing about judging an entrant on the basis of words alone. (This is different from the Newbery Medal, which is specific about being solely for text. Unfortunately.)

Book awards are always comparing apples to oranges, even in a genre-specific award like the O'Dell or the Edgar or the numerous prizes for science fiction and romance. You are always comparing different stories told in different ways to different ends, thank goodness. And why shouldn't we look at the pictures?

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

2010 Scott O'Dell Award

I'm pleased to be able to tell you that the winner of the 2010 Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction is Matt Phelan for The Storm in the Barn, published by Candlewick. The award, administered by Elizabeth Hall and judged by Hazel Rochman (chair), Ann Carlson, and yours truly, is a cash prize of 5000 dollars.

Field Trip!

If you're here for ALA next week and are looking for something to do on the 17th while awaiting the News on Monday morning, I highly recommend this field trip to the Carle Museum in Amherst.

Monday, January 04, 2010

January-February Horn Book Magazine

The new Magazine is out but I haven't seen a copy yet--here's hoping the color looks as good as we wanted! Fanfare, Boston Globe-Horn Book Award speeches, and other selected content can all be linked to from the table of contents posted on the website.

I hope everybody had good holidays. Mine were a blur of movies (I see on child_lit that everyone is offended by Avatar but the one I'm fuming at is It's Complicated), colds, candy and presents, including a highly entertaining dvd set of Wagner's Ring cycle, which has Brunnhilde wandering existentially through the whole thing and a naked guy swimming in an aquarium as the Rheingold itself.

But now it's back to work. I'll be sunning myself in tropical Minnesota next weekend, speaking to the children's lit students at Hamline University (which for some reason is employing similar imagery to my Rheingold dvd) and then you all are coming to Boston for ALA. On that Saturday, I'll again be at the Horn Book booth asking "Five Questions for . . ." of M.T. Anderson, Kristin Cashore, Lois Lowry, and Mitali Perkins. I'll post the schedule this week.