Peach Book Awards: February 2009 Nominee Selection
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