So I hear that there was a really special episode of football this past weekend. Everybody on the internet has been talking about it. Apparently, Katy Perry was the guest star and there were dancing sharks involved. But more importantly, this weekend was the ALA Midwinter conference, which means that Monday morning was the announcement of the Youth Media Awards. This is the truly important stuff, I tell you.

It had been my intention to write a “Guesses and Wishes” post on Sunday and a “Results and Remarks” post for Monday, but I was lazy and it did not happen. So here is my Wednesday evening post on the topic, and anytime I say that I totally called it, you’re just going to have to take my word for it. This isn’t going to exactly be the most thrilling blog post that I’ve ever written, because it’s going to include a lot of lists of titles, but that’s okay, because it’s a very important matter of current events.


Schneider Family Award

Rain ReignThis one is for books that deal with disabilities. I didn’t read up on the award enough to know whether it specifically had to be the protagonist who has a disability, so I didn’t have specific guesses in mind. (I’ve read quite a number of juvenile and YA books this year in which the protagonist’s parent suffers from PTSD, and a few others in which a protagonist’s parent is physically disabled.) The two books that came to my mind right away were Ann M. Martin’s Rain Reign and Cece Bell’s El Deafo. Rain Reign did indeed win the middle grade category, which made me happy because it’s a good book and does an excellent job at giving the perspective of someone with an abnormal thought process. Neither of the other two winners—A Boy and a Jaguar for younger readers or Girls Like Us for teens—were books that I had read.


Stonewall Award

The Stonewall award is for LGBT books. I thought that the clear winner for this one would be Beyond Magenta, which is a nonfiction YA book in which each chapter is the narrative of a transgender teenager or young adult. It was named as an honor book, along with I’ll Give You the Sun and Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress, neither of which I have read. The winner, This Day in June, isn’t one that I was familiar with, either.


Coretta Scott King Awards

FirebirdThe Coretta Scott King Awards are named for the wife of Martin Luther King Jr., and they are African-American specific. As well as illustrator and author awards, they include a lifetime achievement award, (Deborah D. Taylor) and a new talent award (Jason Reynolds for When I was the Greatest). I was pretty pleased about When I Was the Greatest because, although it was not one of my particular favorites, it is well written and it does give a very vivid, thorough, and sympathetic portrayal of a not-very-privileged, predominantly African-American community. I’m proud to say that I accurately predicted the winners for both the illustrator and author awards: Firebird (by Misty Copeland, illustrated by Christopher Myers) and Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson respectively. Then again, neither of those was exactly a shocker. Of the five titles that were named as honor books for one a Coretta Scott King Award, I’ve only read one of them, and for some reason I had thought that it was a 2013 book. (That was Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker)


YALSA Awards

YALSA stands for Young Adult Library Services Association, so all of their awards (with the exception of the Odyssey) are specifically for teen readers. To be honest, I haven’t really kept up with 2014 YA books. I would have loved to see Grandmaster or The Art of Secrets win a YALSA award, but it didn’t happen. I’m going to sort of skip over this section just because I have read hardly any of the books involved and don’t have much to say about any of them. Although I was happy to see that The Family Romanov was a finalist in the nonfiction category and that A Snicker of Magic was an honor book for the Odyssey, which goes to juvenile or YA audiobooks.


Pura Belpre, Mildred L. Batchelder, Robert F. Sibert, Theodor Seuss Geisel

blog I lived on butterfly hillI’m lumping these all together because they’re less major awards with narrower scopes, and because I didn’t have specific predictions about any of them. I’m also skipping over a couple awards that aren’t awarded to specific books, because they’re just less fun. The Pura Belpre is for Hispanic American books. (It’s worth noting that there are conspicuously few American children’s books with Hispanic authors or protagonists considering how many Hispanic American children there are, and that this is a problem) The illustrator award went to Viva Frida and the author Award went to I Lived on Butterfly Hill. Unfortunately, I’m not familiar with either of those or any of the respective honor books. Come to think of it, I guess I only read two books that would have been eligible for this year’s Pura Belpre, and neither one of them, in my opinion, was really worthy of an award. The Mildred L. Batchelder award is for books that were originally published in another language and then translated; I’m guessing that the award was created specifically because such books are not eligible for the Newbery. This year’s winner was Mikis and the Donkey, which I have not read, nor am I familiar with either of the honor books. In retrospect, it occurs to me that My Heart is Laughing, which has gotten a lot more attention than any of those books, was eligible, but I didn’t especially love that one, to be honest.  The Robert F. Sibert award is for nonfiction. Of the five honor books, I’ve read three of them and two of them (Brown Girl Dreaming and The Family Romanov) were, in my opinion, pretty obvious choices. The winner, The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus is not a book that I have actually come across, but it looks really awesome. The Theodor Seuss Geisel award is for early readers. I didn’t see many 2014 early readers that I thought were especially great, so it didn’t surprise me that I didn’t even recognize the title of the winner, You are (Not) Small, or either of the honor books.


Randolph Caldecott Award

blog The Adventures of BeekleThese last two are the big ones. Unfortunately, I haven’t done the greatest job of keeping up with really recent picture books, so I wasn’t really equipped to make predictions about the Caldecott. I did have a few particular favorites, such as The Midnight Library and Baby Bear, but they didn’t get enough attention that I really expected them to win. This year’s Caldecott committee named six honor books, which struck me as being the biggest surprise of the whole awards announcement. Six is an awful lot of honor books. Still, I was only familiar with one of them, Sam & Dave Dig a Hole, which, for the record, I think is a great book and I was happy to see it named as an honor book. I was not familiar with this year’s Caldecott winner, The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend, but it sounds good and I’m looking forward to tracking it down and reading it. But I would just like to point out that, if it is about an imaginary being who is searching for a real/unimaginary friend, my sisters and I came up with that idea years ago. True story.


John Newbery Award

blog CrossoverI had some pretty specific predictions for this. I thought that Brown Girl Dreaming was the most likely winner, but that Rain Reign and The Madman of Piney Woods also were relatively likely, and it wouldn’t have surprised me if the winner turned out to be Revolution or Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy, or maybe even The Fourteenth Goldfish or Nest or The Meaning of Maggie. I also would have loved to see Greenglass House win, although I wasn’t really expecting that. But it wasn’t any of those; it was The Crossover. That was a disappointment because I hadn’t read that one, but fortunately my library’s eBook copy was available, so I was able to read the whole thing within a couple hours of the announcement. It was pretty good; I’m no longer disappointed about the results, but I’m not particularly thrilled about it, either. The honor books, El Deafo and Brown Girl Dreaming, are both books that I read quite a while ago and liked enough that I was pretty pleased to see them named as honor books.


So, now that we know what won all of the 2015 awards, it’s time to start obsessing over the 2016 awards. I’ve currently halfway through The War that Saved My Life, which is really good and could possibly become a Newbery contender, and The Way to Stay in Destiny is next in the stack.