I know you have all heard the Youth Media Awards compared to the Oscars, but that has never been how I felt. I mean, we are all wearing convention-wear (sensible shoes and the like), toting bulging cloth bookbags, gripping paper, pen, various electronic devices and our boarding passes for the post-announcement sprint to Love Field or DFW. Nary a plunging sparkly neckline was in sight. I don’t recall any foreign press either.
But, excitement? Check. Anticipation? Check.
Usually the announcements are held in a gigantic ballroom. This time, it was more like a very large high school auditorium, if you attended a well-funded high school. The audience waits in a very long line. At 7:35, the doors opened and we raced to find enough seats together. There is something about these announcements that makes you want to sit with friends. When it’s all over, you want to be near people you love. If you are mad, you need someone to commiserate with, and if you are happy, you want to have someone to jump up and down with. This year, it was all about the jumping up and down.
You all have no doubt seen the webcast. Missed it? Here it is. There is the musak, the elementary powerpoint, the slow deliberate speech of librarians and the disembodied cheering. The naming of every single publisher and imprint takes forever if you are watching. But if you are there, the time flies.
For me, it’s thrilling. I was making note of the mention of any book Lolly and I had talked about. My husband (who is a reviewer too) was clear down the row from me, but that didn’t stop us from congratulating each other on any bit of clairvoyance. He was listening for books he had reviewed and loved or titles from his time on the Boston Globe-Horn Book awards this year. For me, it was all that and hearing any mention of books from Calling Caldecott.
Right off the bat: Wonderstruck gets the Schneider Family Book Award. All righty then.
I got a chance to get off my rear end right away when Ashley Bryan was named as this year’s winner of the Virginia Hamilton Lifetime Achievement Award. No one in the library world is more beloved than Ashely Bryan, and the whole room erupted when his name was called. My whooping went on a little longer than necessary. I suspected my husband had chosen to sit far from me on purpose.
Onto more books…
Underground andThe Great Migration and Heart and Soul. Well, thank you Coretta Scott King committee for the affirmation. (though I was hoping for piles of honor books–y’all know I love honor books)
Well, that was nice. So was hearing Susan Cooper named as the Margaret A. Edwards honoree. Wow. That was a surprise. And a good surprise. More tears. More jumping. More cries of happy surprise and hugging. The next few awards were for books for older readers and I could rest up. But, that crazy smile of joy seemed stuck on my face forever.
I perked up for the Sibert Award, partly because we had talked about some nonfiction books and partly because a good friend was on the committee. Well, well, well. The winner was Balloons Over Broadway! (Calling Caldecott was up to five books and I was pretty excited about that!)
The Geisel Award was next. I knew from my time on that committee how hard it was to predict this one. Oh, my! A familiar title: I Want My Hat Back. Honor. Fabulous choice.
I knew that Caldecott was next. We go 3 for 3 on the honors: Blackout, Grandpa Green, Me…Jane. I am flabbergasted. My mind whirrs as I imagine the Medal Winner. (I figure all my long-shots were out now. I thought, “Daisy.”) And it was. A Ball for Daisy. I thought, “Lolly is screaming somewhere now!” I make a mental note to bone up on my knowledge of gestural drawing so that I can help my students better appreciate Raschka.
After the Newbery announcement–and ridiculous, embarrassing screaming over Jack Gantos’s medal for Dead End in Norvelt (best happy shock of the day for me)–I check my e-mail for happy texts and let it all sink in.
This is a crowd of people who love books. They might have had their favorites, but many have been on committees and have learned to trust the process.
A close friend grinned, “All the right books won.” I could not agree more.