Tag Archives: Morris Award

ALA Awards


Okay, I’m home from Philadelphia, had a good night’s sleep, did my laundry, sorted the mail, and now I’m ready to say a few words about my reactions to the Youth Media Awards.

In order of their announcement:

The Alex Awards: that was me yelping when Lexicon was announced. Actually, it turns out that it was the only one of the ten that I had read, although Brewster and Sea of Tranquility have been on my TBR list since AB4T reviewed them. I was disappointed at the fact that nine were fiction titles, although there are more nonfiction titles on the expanded list, including my personal favorite, Frozen in Time.

Edwards Award: Yes, yes, yes! Some people were saying afterwards that they didn’t think of Markus Zusak as having been around long enough for an Edwards nod, but Fighting Ruben Wolfe came out in the US in 2001, and Getting the Girl  in 2003. Laurie Halse Anderson got the award in 2009, for Speak and Fever 1793, which came out in 1999 and 2000, respectively, so it isn’t unprecedented. As you note, I’m a big fan of Zusak’s “Aussie slacker” books, and I was especially gratified that Getting the Girl was one of the honored books, because it’s a personal favorite of mine, and I think it is one of the great overlooked YA books of the 21st century. It is a stand-alone sequel to Fighting Ruben Wolfe, and I am looking forward to re-reading both of them before the Edwards brunch at Annual.

Morris Award: As you know, I’ve been a fan of Charm and Strange since I read it, and I was delighted that it won the Morris. To be fair, I still haven’t read the other finalists, so I can’t offer any salient remarks on them.

Nonfiction Award: I was kind of rooting for GO!, just because it was nice to see a non-history (dare I say, non-World War II?) book on the list. But I managed to snag a copy of Nazi Hunters at the reception, and I’m looking forward to reading it. (You can make me eat my words next January, when my Nonfiction Committee chooses a World War II book!)

Printz: Again, we’ve both talked about Midwinter Blood. I see your issues with it, but it is a book that has really stuck with me. You mentioned its daring and inventiveness, and I sometimes think those kinds of things are like the “degree of difficulty” ratings they give ice skaters and gymnasts–even if the execution isn’t perfect, the attempt is so audacious that it merits extra points.

I was definitely surprised at Navigating Early. I read it back in the beginning of the year, but didn’t even talk about it on the blog, because I didn’t see it as Printz potential, nor was it particularly resonant with me. I gave it 4 stars on Goodreads, but honestly, it kind of slipped from my radar as soon as I read it.

Also a surprise to me was Maggot Moon. We both had issues with it, and one of mine was that I thought it was too young for the Printz. When I said this on Monday to a member of the Printz committee, that person–who had admittedly read the book more often and more deeply than I–looked startled, and obviously the committee thought it was a young adult book.

Eleanor & Park didn’t excite me, as you know, but I felt it was a solid YA book and I wasn’t surprised to see it on the list.

I had not even heard about Kingdom of Little Wounds until the night before the announcement, when I was having dinner with other librarians and someone brought it up as a book she thought was a strong contender this year. Clearly she was right!

Other awards:

Newbery: I haven’t read Flora and Ulysses, but I have it on hold. I was happy to see some younger books acknowledged, like that one and The Year of Billy Miller.

Caldecott: Not my area of expertise, but I heard Brian Floca speak on Friday afternoon, talking about the creation of Locomotive, and I’ve flipped through the pages, and it seems a worthy choice. I “read” Journey (it’s wordless), and thought it was lovely.

Schneider Family Awards: When Rose Under Fire was announced, I asked the person sitting next to me, “Why that one? What’s the disability?” She couldn’t answer, but fortunately, I ran into a member of the committee later, and she told me that it was Rose’s PTSD that they were mostly thinking of, but also the disabilities of the “rabbits.”

So there are some quick thoughts. Tomorrow I’ll post on some of the galleys I picked up at Midwinter (including a new one by Marcus Sedgwick), and we can start speculating about 2014.

– Mom





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Morris and Nonfiction


You discussed the Morris finalists–the other major award for which YALSA announces the finalists ahead of time is the Excellence in Nonfiction Award. And the finalists are:

  • The Nazi Hunters by Neal Bascomb
  • Go: A Kidd’s Guide to Graphic Design by Chip Kidd
  • Imprisoned: The Betrayal of Japanese Americans During World War II by Martin W. Sandler
  • Courage Has No Color by Tanya Lee Stone
  • The President Has Been Shot by James L. Swanson

So, between the Morris and the Nonfiction Awards, I’ve read . . . one book. That, as you know, is Courage Has No Color which I was unimpressed with. I do have a copy of Kidd’s book at home, and while I’m not sure I’m going to read it in its entirety, I will say 1) it is gorgeously designed, which you might think goes without saying for a book on graphic design, but you’d be wrong, and 2) the bits that I’ve dipped into are very well written and fascinating. So, though I can’t say I’ve read it, I’m thoroughly behind Go as a Nonfiction finalist. The Nazi Hunters and Imprisoned are books that I’m vaguely interested in, and I may read at some point if I catch up on other reading. As for Swanson’s book, someone is going to have to work very very hard to convince me to read anything more about the Kennedy Assassination. Unlike so many others, I find the subject endlessly boring.

Back to the Morris–I have heard some things about Belle Epoque, along with the other three you mentioned. But Sex and Violence (what, no ampersand, Mesrobian?) remains a mystery to me. The others are books that I’ve heard good things about but all sound pretty mid-range to me. On the other hand, keeping up with the Morris has never been one of my strengths. Of the 30 finalists and winners the Morris has honored, I’ve read all of 9, and only have good things to say about 3 of those–two in the first year, Graceling and A Curse Dark as Gold; and last year’s winner, Seraphina. Oh, I suppose I like Girl of Fire and Thorns fine, but the others I’ve read–Paper Covers Rock, Where Things Come Back, Between Shades of Grey, The Freak Observer, Wonder Show–plus After the Snow which I abandoned, read like a list of “books Mark finds hopelessly pretentious.”

So, go read Go. Other than that, I’m not of much use on these two lists.

– Mark

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I Called One!


Today YALSA announced the five finalists for the William Morris Award for a Debut YA work.

Of the five, I’ve read one, started one, had one sitting on the shelf for months, and haven’t even heard of two.

The one I have read is Charm and Strange, by Stephanie Kuehn, which I talked about here several months ago. At the time, I said I hoped the Morris committee was looking at it, so I called that one, at least!

The one I started is Dr. Bird’s Advice for Sad Poets by Evan Roskos. I picked it up at the library several months ago, but couldn’t get into it–it just felt a bit precious to me, but perhaps I just wasn’t in the mood for it. I would be interested in your take, though, since the main character has an anxiety disorder, and you know more about that than I do.

The one I have had on the shelf is In the Shadow of Blackbirds, by Cat Winters. Spanish Flu pandemic: check. World War I: check. San Diego: check. It’s just the spiritualism aspect that has held me back, I think. But I’ll definitely take a look at it now.

The two I haven’t even heard of are Sex and Violence, by Carrie Mesrobian, and Belle Epoque, by Elizabeth Ross.

Some random thoughts:

  • 3 contemporary, 2 historical
  • 3 with male main characters (two of those written by women), 2 with female main characters
  • 2 (possibly 3) about forms of mental illness
  • no fantasy or science fiction this year

How about you? Have you read any?

– Mom


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The Raven Boys, Take Two


I’m interested that you had problems getting into The Raven Boys, because I just devoured the whole thing in under 24 hours.  I was hooked pretty much from page one, which was really shocking to me because (as I think you know) I have not been a fan of Stiefvater’s work in the past.  Was there anything in particular that stopped you from getting into it, or were you just in the wrong frame of mind for it?

raven_boysOn to specifics.  I, too, was gobsmacked by Noah’s ghosthood, but not by the fact that there was a secret about Noah.  I thought it was pretty clear that Stiefvater was hiding something about him–there were too many times when he . . . disappeared (!) while the other three boys were off doing something important. But I thought it would be that he was going to turn out to be a bad guy of some sort.  I too noted the “I’ve been dead for seven years” line, but thought it was just a wry joke of the kind that a somewhat depressive teen might make (btw, I don’t have my copy right now, but I seem to recall that when they find out that Noah is a ghost there is a certain amount of calculation on Noah’s part to figure out that it’s been seven years–is this a continuity error, or am I wrong?).

Like you, I was very impressed with the character of Gansey (among others – Maura and the aunts were all well-drawn, as were Blue, Adam, and Ronan).  That line about three- and four-syllable words rang really true for me: I have often gotten in trouble with people thinking I am being overly pretentious or purposely talking above them by using “big” words, so I know exactly what Gansey was talking about in being ashamed of himself for it.

I’m a little surprised that you think the book stands by itself apart from the coming sequels. I certainly don’t hold it against the book that it is the first in a series (and I would definitely defend it in an awards argument against that charge), but I thought when compared to some of the other “first” books we’ve been talking about this year (I’m thinking specifically of Seraphina and The Diviners), this was the one that left the most open questions.  Aside from the fact that I will read anything Libba Bray or Rachel Hartman has to offer, I would be perfectly happy if either of them decided not to write a sequel.  With Raven Boys, I think the sequel is required.

So now that I’ve finished reading the Pyrite Printz shortlist (and reread four of them), here’s my preliminary ranking of the ten titles (we’ll see how the discussion changes my mind): Continue reading


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So we’ve talked a lot about Printz-worthy fiction and nonfiction for 2012, and also about the Excellence in Nonfiction Award, but today I was thinking about the Morris Award, and young adult debuts. Considering that it is only about six or seven weeks until the Morris shortlist is announced, I decided to look around and see how many YA debuts I had actually read this year.

And the answer is . . . apparently, not many. I did a not-exhaustive search and found the following sources: Kelly Jensen has a series of posts on The Hub listing debut novels. Goodreads is maintaining a list of debut authors for young adult and middle grade here. And RT Book Reviews had a list from BEA here.

Again, as I say, I don’t pretend these lists are exhaustive, or even correct, but here is a list of debuts that I have read:

The Catastrophic History of You and Me, by Jess Rothenberg

Grave Mercy, by Robin LeFevers

Seraphina, by Rachel Hartman

The Princesses of Iowa, by Molly Backes

Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone, by Kat Rosenfield

Long Lankin, by Lindsey Barraclough

Kissing Shakespeare, by Pamela Mingle

Three that I haven’t read but that I have on hold at the library or sitting on my nightstand are The Wicked and the Just, by J. Anderson Coats, When the Sea is Rising Red, by Cat Hellisen, and Personal Effects, by E.M. Kokie. Continue reading


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