2012 Youth Media Awards Madness

I had the fortune to actually attend the American Library Association’s Youth Media Awards (where they announce such awesome book awards as the Newbery, Caldecott, and Printz) in Dallas, TX, this Monday. This event is like the Super Bowl for writers, publishers, and librarians, and it was so wonderful to be in a huge room full of people totally invested in recognizing the power of stories to influence lives. Every time a book was announced, whether it be a winner or an honor book, people cheered, and clapped, and whistled, and called out stuff like “Yeah!”, and I felt like I was at a sporting event or a concert, but for BOOKS. It may make be a big book nerd, but it was super fun. The full list of awards announced are here at the ALA web site but below I want to highlight the Michael L. Printz award for best teen fiction and the William C. Morris award for best teen debut fiction.

This has never happened before, as far as I know, but the same amazing book won both of these big awards, and it’s one I recently highlighted on my Top Books for 2011. Here’s what I recently wrote about it: Where Things Come Back, by John Corey Whaley, is a strange one, but its strangeness is why I love it so. This literary novel tells intertwining stories of people searching for meaning and redemption in a messed up world. Cullen Witter lives in a tiny Arkansas town that is experiencing a revival after a birdwatcher claims to have seen a woodpecker long thought to be extinct. But while the townspeople are obsessed with searching for this mythical bird, Cullen is desperately searching for his missing younger brother, who disappeared at the same time. Meanwhile, Benton Sage, a missionary traveling in Africa, becomes disillusioned with his calling and sets up a chain reaction of events that dovetails perfectly with Cullen’s story. This excellent debut novel is both funny and meaningful. I urge anyone looking for something different to give it a try.

Four other books were named as Printz honors:

Why We Broke Up, written by Daniel Handler
The Returning, written by Christine Hinwood
Jasper Jones, written by Craig Silvey
The Scorpio Races, written by Maggie Stiefvater

Also, four other books were Morris honors:

The Girl of Fire and Thorns, written by Rae Carson
Paper Covers Rock, written by Jenny Hubbard
Under the Mesquite, written by Guadalupe Garcia McCall
Between Shades of Gray, written by Ruta Sepetys

All of these books are available at our library, so read some award winners today!

Some more excellent places to look for good, new reads:

ALA’s Top Ten Best Fiction for Young Adults
ALA’s Great Graphic Novels for Teens Top Ten List
ALA”s Alex Awards (best adult fiction for teen readers)

Next Program: “Date or Hate” Book Speed Dating

Date or Hate – Book Speed Dating Sunday
February 12, 2-3 p.m., Altenbach Room

When was the last time you fell in love with a book? It can be tough to find your perfect match, but life’s too short to read books you don’t like. Come fall in love with a new book at our book speed dating event, “Date or Hate”, where you’ll spend a few minutes each with several books new and old to see if you can find your perfect match. Take home the ones you want to date; leave the ones you hate. Food and drinks will be provided; you bring the attitude. For teens ages 12-18.

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My Top 2011 Teen Reads

I read close to 160 books in 2011 (I know, right?) and the majority were teens books. Here are my top five favorite teen books from 2011. If you’re looking for great reads to start our the new year, try one of these.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone, by Laini Taylor. Y Taylor.

Karou leads a double life: in one, she is an art student in Prague; in another, she is an errand runner for Brimstone, a chimaerae (demon) who barters teeth for wishes. Her worlds collide when she meets beautiful Akiva, who is on the other side of a centuries old war between angels and demons. This is a dark, romantic, suspenseful grown-up fairy tale, and it’s my favorite book of 2011.

The Isle of Blood (The Monstrumologist, Book Three), by Rick Yancey. Y Yancey.

Young Will Henry and his monster-hunting mentor, Dr. Warthrop, are back in their third adventure, where they travel to the Isle of Blood in search of the monster to end all monsters. If you are looking for something scary, gory, but also highly literate and thoughtful, look no further than Rick Yancey’s Monstrumologist series. A fourth book will happily be coming in the next year or so, so catch up while you still have time.

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, by Cat Valente. Y Valente.

Twelve-year-old September leaves behind her mundane life in Omaha to travel to Fairyland with the Green Wind, where she comes into conflict with the Marquess, whose fickle rule has caused problems for Fairyland’s inhabitants. This is a truly inventive, idiosyncratic story with beautiful illustrations.

A Monster Calls, by Patrick Ness. Y Ness.

Grab some tissues, people! This is a heartbreaking yet life-affirming story of coping with loss, and the haunting, evocative black and white illustrations elevate the story to true art. Ever since Conor’s mother has been diagnosed with cancer, Conor’s been having nightmares of a terrible monster, but when the monster finally shows at midnight, it isn’t the one he expects. This monster, full of ancient wisdom, insists on telling Conor three stories in exchange for one story of Conor’s: the one story – the truth – that he doesn’t want to tell.

Where Things Come Back, by John Corey Whaley. Y Whaley.

This is a strange one, but its strangeness is why I love it so. This literary novel tells intertwining stories of people searching for meaning and redemption in a messed up world. Cullen Witter lives in a tiny Arkansas town that is experiencing a revival after a birdwatcher claims to have seen a woodpecker long thought to be extinct. But while the townspeople are obsessed with searching for this mythical bird, Cullen is desperately searching for his missing younger brother, who disappeared at the same time. Meanwhile, Benton Sage, a missionary traveling in Africa, becomes disillusioned with his calling and sets up a chain reaction of events that dovetails perfectly with Cullen’s story. This excellent debut novel is both funny and meaningful.

Next week I’ll post my “Best of the Rest” list — books I really loved but didn’t make the top five.