The American Library Association announces its Youth Media Awards, hashtagged under #ALAYMA, annually on the Monday morning of its Midwinter meeting. It is a jubilant ceremony, known as the "Oscars of the Children's Literature world," livestreamed to fans who are unable to attend the conference as well as those who can't cram into the actual theatre. I was awarded a prime seat this year, as an appreciative member of one of the selection committees. The winners' books will be added to school and public libraries around the world, in addition to personal shelves. Many are already available in our catalogue in multiple formats, and they represent a wide swath of formats and ages, chosen after much hard work and deliberation on the part of the committees. Some of this year's winners are:
Kate DiCamillo. Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures, winner of the John Newbery Medal. DiCamillo, the newly minted National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, was awarded her second Newbery medal, which is conferred upon "the most distinguished contribution to American Literature" for her engaging, warm fantasy about the unique friendship between a plucky, 10-year-old comic fan and a squirrel named Ulysses.
Brian Floca. Locomotive. Floca's book, with its detailed watercolour, ink, and guache illustrations of a family on a week-long 1861 transcontinental train-trip, is the 2014 winner of the Randolph Caldecott medal for the most distinguished American picture book.
Stephanie Kuehn. Charm & Strange. In this harrowing, involving title, the winner of the William C. Morris Award for the best YA book by a previously unpublished author, a young man must come to terms with the parts of himself that he has spent years trying to bury.
Daniel Kraus. Scowler. Reviews for this horror title, which is about a vulnerable nineteen-year-old named Ry Burke who ends up having to protect his family from a threat that comes with a meteor, noted that it could be 'scary and disturbing.' The audio version, the winner of this year's Odyssey award for the best audiobook for children and/or young adults, throws in enough additional sound effects to guarantee that anyone who listens to this late at night should probably sleep with a light on or something furry with which to cuddle.
Greg Pizzoli. The Watermelon Seed. This year's winner of the Theodore Seuss Geisel award, awarded to the most distinguished book for beginning readers, is absolutely charming. More than anything, crocodile really LOVES watermelon - but he has one fear, swallowing a seed. Readers will have a lovely time when his imagination takes root about all of the horrible things might happen when crocodile's fears are realized. Will vines sprout from his ears?
Neal Bascomb. The Nazi Hunters: How a Team of Spies and Survivors Captured the World's Most Notorious Nazi. This gripping narrative nonfiction title, the winner of this year's Award of Excellence in nonfiction for Young Adults, details the years-long search for the elusive Lieutenant Colonel Adolph Eichmann of the SS, the man behind Hitler's policy "to wipe out the Jews."
More information about the rest of this year's winners and recommended booklists may be found through the Association to Library Services to Children (ALSC) and the Young Adult Library Services Assocation (YALSA.) There will be more lists added over the next several days. Congratulations to all of the winners and honourees!