March is a busy, busy time for the Georgia Peach Book Award Committee for Teen Readers. We met at La Madeleine near Perimeter Mall February 25th for discussion of about 85 books on our consideration list to be the 2010-2011 nominees. Strawberries Romanov ended up having way more Weight Watchers points than I was expecting, and I drank way too much French coffee, but we buzzed about those books for the better part of three hours, trying to come up with a balanced list of books that at least four of us had read and could really endorse as something that would resonate with at least some teens in the state. Here’s what we came up with:
- After by Amy Efaw
- Bonechiller by Graham McNamee
- Brutal by Michael Harmon
- Burn by Suzanne Phillips
- Carter Finally Gets It by Brent Crawford
- The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
- Dream Factory by Brad Barkley and Heather Hepler
- Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith
- The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan
- Hold Still by Nina LaCour (Dutton)
- If I Stay: a Novel by Gayle Forman
- Jerk, California by Jonathan Friesen
- King of the Screwups by K.L. Going
- Muchaco: a Novel by LouAnne Johnson
- North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley
- The Orange Houses by Paul Griffin
- Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater
- Skinned by Robin Wasserman
- Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson
- The Year We Disappeared: a Father-Daughter Memoir by Cylin Busby
Also, voting was supposed to end Friday, 3/12, with ballots coming to me for insertion into the state master tally spreadsheet. I am accepting them still for a last day or two, just to be sure we can give as much representation to GA teens as possible.
As I have been working with the results from mostly school libraries with a handful from public libraries, I am struck more with the dilemma we’re facing in terms of deciding whether to go over to online voting. The great thing about it is that media specialists and librarians wouldn’t have to hound students and patrons about voting so much—they could do it independently online. The potentially bad thing about it is that we lose the verification that votes are coming from actual Georgia teens, rather than any old person who wants to vote online. Another tough aspect is whether kids would vote multiple times for the same book—the electronic equivalent of stuff the ballot boxes, which most library professionals now correct for, should it happen at their location. If we tried to continue paper ballot voting in part and some locations went to online voting, those with online voting would often have significantly greater sway over the way the win and honor books would go.
We didn’t get much discussion to February’s Peach blog that discussed the way students rank books, best to worst—4, 3, 2, 1, or 0; but really this online aspect is even more important, so if you have any thoughts about its ramifications, please share.
We’re also welcoming six new members to our committee, planning our presentation of the 2010 winners at the Kennesaw State Children’s Literature Conference on March 30, 2010. Two of the speaking authors, Jay Asher and Lisa McMann, are actually on the list of Peach Book nominees for which students have just voted. Wouldn’t it be cool if one of them could hear about winning the award in person!
Suzanne Gordon, NBCT
Peach Book Award Chairperson
Peachtree Ridge High School
Lanier High School, 2010-2011
On Tuesday, February 24th, most of the members of the Peach Book Award Committee met for the throw-down, the rumble, the time during each year when we fight, I mean calmly discuss, winnowing down a list of 84 total titles that made it to our reading and consideration database to a measly twenty. Some books are easily agreed upon: several were obvious choices—big yeses for almost everyone. Then came the painful, but strangely fun, process of going through all the remaining titles to find out how many of those present had read each one—we have a goal of about four readers for every title—and whether they are feeling a “yes,” “no,” or “maybe” on that title becoming one of the top twenty that high schools and public libraries around the state can vote on, really rate, during the course of the year to follow. Corporate mergers cannot be more internecine than THE meeting that gets this job done each year. Secret alliances, bartering, and yes, excessive dessert, since the meeting takes place in a restaurant, can all affect the final outcome; but ultimately, most of feel we have served the teen readers, and the librarians who love them as well as possible.
So when you get your list of the next year’s nominees, please realize that like all committee work, there are compromises and a wide range of opinions on even a single book. We have even gotten some complaints and concerns from people telling us that the nominees are too dark, too profane, or too rife with potential controversy to be in their libraries. To these folks, we offer the caveat: Not ALL these books are appropriate for all communities or schools. Finding out which ones will work is the individual school media specialist, media committee, or collection development staff’s job. However, that being said, consider these books carefully. We don’t choose books for adults to connect with, even though we are, in fact, most of the time, adults. We work very hard to put on a different hat when reading for the Peach Award—to turn the I-Pod on full blast, text five people at once, and read those books like the young folks. We aren’t looking for reasons that books aren’t appropriate but for reasons that the books might matter and mean something to teens—or at least that are entertaining or diverting for them. Will lots of young adults want to read this book and like this book? Then let’s peachify it. Yes, I made that word up, and it’s not even a very good one. If you can’t house all the books in your collection, then at least publish the list so that kids can obtain the titles that interest them by other means. Also, please send us suggestions to go on that database—the kind of books that DO fly in your communities, and we’ll give them every consideration.
Suzanne Gordon, Peach Committee Vice Chair
Clear your schedule tonight and stay tuned to hear who wins the National Book Award for Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and of course, Young People’s Literature! The medal ceremony begins at 9:00 PM (EST), and you can follow the updates via http://twitter.com/nationalbook ! Download free posters and bookmarks, read interviews with the nominees, and learn more about each nominated book/work of literature by visiting http://www.nationalbook.org/nba2008.html .
Who do you think will win for Young People’s Literature? Vote now!
Buffy Hamilton, Media Specialist
Creekview High School
While this blog posting is at least a week overdue, I wanted to share what a rejuvenating experience the first YALSA conference was last weekend in Nashville. There was an energy and an eagerness in the air that was palpable – a welcome refresher at a stressful time of year, a time when day-to-day operations can make us forget why we do what we do.
We spent the majority of the weekend talking about teens and what they are reading now. Rollie Welch did a presentation about urban/street lit that was as entertaining and informative as it was heartfelt. Linda Braun was so excited about all the reading going on with new technology that I thought she might actually leap out of her skin. The author of American Born Chinese, the congenial Mr. Gene Luen Yang, spoke artfully about his craft of writing a graphic novel, as well as about how today’s teens interact with a text as well as read it (i.e. fanfiction, etc.). The multitude of authors present (David Lubar, Margaret Haddix, Patrick Jones, to mention a few) had the crowd of librarians star-struck, chuckling, and riveted to their every word.
With that in mind, I humbly encourage you to attend the YALSA conference when it comes back around in two years (or any conference that rejuvenates your passion for books). I was most impressed with all of the presentations I attended and the resources I gleaned from the weekend. And speaking of resources, here are a few for the hands-on folks that find my philosophical ramblings and YALSA-praising tiresome!
- Wordle.net: Generates very cool “word clouds” from text you dump in. Careful - if you go to this site you will get addicted! I’ve already created new Dewey signs with this one.
- Wordia.net: Redefining the dictionary with short videos created by anyone. Like YouTube for Scrabble dorks. Some of them are hysterical. Too bad my district blocks this one!
- YALSA website: A wealth of information, but be sure to click on the booklists links and find the Top Ten Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers and Great Graphic Novels for Teens. Two excellent resources.
- YALSA wiki: LOTS of info and links to wonderful resources.
- Bookmark ideas: If you like Twilight, try these titles…, books under 200 pages, If you liked Gossip Girls…, and so on.
So many moments made this conference a memorable experience. In the course of one presentation someone mentioned having a teen board for as many things as possible and (duh!) that’s what was missing from my website redesign. I found out that zombie books are apparently going to be the next big thing in YA lit. I discovered that Samuel Pepys diary has been turned into a blogand some singing group called the Smittens has a song that begins “I love my librarian….” But mostly I came back with a renewed passion for the thing I love most – getting good books in kids’ hands and providing them (one can hope) with a positive reading experience.
Collins Hill High School