Thursday, January 9, 2020

It's Coming: The Youth Media Awards!

It's beginning to look a lot like Youth Media Awards season!!

Yes, in a few short weeks, the American Library Association's Youth Media Awards will be announced at the Midwinter Conference in Philadelphia. I won't be there in person, but I will be excitedly watching the webcast with (I hope) some similarly excited coworkers. I've booked a meeting room for us at the library and hope to be able to offer comp time to anyone who wants to come in early that day to watch with me. I'm debating whether I should pick up some healthy breakfast items or splurge on some donuts... Hmmm.

The Saturday before the announcements, I will be heading 4 hours north to Fort Wayne to participate in Allen County Public Library's Mock Newbery discussion. I have been reading (and in some cases re-reading) to get ready. I'm not quite finished with all the books, but as soon as I schedule this blog post I'm going to get back to it.

What are my favorites this year?

A Good Kind of Trouble by Lisa Moore Ramée (Balzer + Bray, 2019). I love the plotting in this book and the thoughtful structure that's deceptively simple. On its surface, this is a typical middle school story about a girl dealing with friends and boys and racial tension in her town. As you drill further down, you realize that each obstacle Shayla grapples with in her personal life is preparing her for the huge realization that she needs to stand up for what she believe in, even if it means she'll get in trouble. This is the book I would hand to young activists and I think it's supremely relevant to today. Read my full review with booktalk and readalikes here!

New Kid by Jerry Craft (HarperAlley, 2019). Okay, it's hard to know how the committee will come down on the eligibility of graphic novels. Does the text have to stand on its own? Can storyboarding be considered part of the "text"? If the committee is amenable to graphic novels, I think this one is worthy of consideration and distinguished for its interpretation of theme and appropriateness of style for a child audience. I think the way that Jerry Craft examines racial microaggressions is so skillful because it's hilarious at the same time it's being serious. This makes total sense for the protagonist who processes his own emotions by drawing comics. 

Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga (Balzer + Bray, 2019). I love the language in this book and the effective poetic structure that conveys big feelings with very few words, which is so appropriate to the story. As Jude moves to America and struggles with learning English and making friends when it's difficult to express herself, the poems play with language and emphasize the important role that language plays in feeling at home. 

Now, like I said, I haven't finished all the books on our mock Newbery list yet and I certainly haven't read or reread nearly as much as any of the committee members. But these three (all books from HarperCollins! I promise they didn't sponsor this post!) are all books of my heart and books I will be proud to promote to kids whether or not they garner shiny stickers (although I would be thrilled if they do!).

What books are your favorite contenders for the Newbery this year?