>Re the Printz Award: I posted a while back about how I thought American Born Chinese, published by First Second Books, was not exactly eligible for the award, since it did not seem to me to be expressly published for young adults, an explicit criterion. But I have since heard from the award Chair Cindy Dobrez, who explained to me all the evidence the committee took into account in deciding the book’s eligibility. I’m convinced.
But while I’m again on the subject, let me whine just one more time about how wrongheaded this criterion is. By limiting the eligible pool to books designated by their publishers as being young adult books and specifically announcing that “adult books are not eligible,” YALSA puts the job of determining what a young adult book is into the hands of publishers rather than those of librarians. It essentially limits eligibility to books published by juvenile publishing houses or divisions, as they are the only ones to give age designations to their books. It rewards a very specific (read: large) kind of trade publishing, as a small press does not have the kind of resources that would allow it to designate a book as young adult if it thought the book could reach an adult market as well.
What has always interested me about library work with young adults is the way it blends materials for children and those for adults in service to an audience poised between the two. But YALSA–which derives a lot more financial support from children’s publishers than it does adult–has become too beholden to the juvenile end of things. The annual Best Books list became so disgracefully bereft of adult books that the organization had to add a whole new award program, the Alex Awards, to make up for it–rather than making Best Books the kind of “best of both worlds” list it should be. (It seems that whenever ALA’s youth divisions are called out for overlooking one kind of book or another, the solution is found in creating yet another award.)
I think teens want to read adult books. Why don’t we want to honor that?