Monday, January 23, 2006

I'm Talking About This Because I Have To

I've been avoiding discussing book awards because it seems to me there are a huge number of them--not that that's a bad thing, by any means. But everybody is talking about them, so I figure I should talk about something else. Especially since lots of times I haven't read the books involved.

But today was Newbery,Caldecott, and Printz Day. I am a children's writer and blogger, so...

This year I've actually read a few of the books involved. I didn't read the Newbery Winner, but one of the honor books, Princess Academy by Shannon Hale. Now, if my legions of loyal fans remember, I wasn't crazy about Princess Academy, liked The Goose Girl much better, thought Princess Academy covered a lot of the same ground and was just old wine in a new flask.

However, in discussing Princess Academy and the Newbery today at Readerville, someone made the point that Princess Academy is for a younger age group than The Goose Girl. That person believed that it wasn't inappropriate to rework material when you are providing a new setting and presentation for a group that wouldn't read the first book. The woman who made this argument is a teacher, and she said Princess Academy had made its way around her fourth grade class.

Well, I have an open mind and that discussion has made me rethink Princess Academy. The book has moved up in my estimation. What's more, I'm delighted to hear that a Newbery Book is being read by kids. Because with some of the choices some years, you've got to wonder.

You can go to Shannon Hale's Activity Log to read an account of how she received the news about the Newbery. She had it posted early today. She's right on top of things.

By the way, I read years ago that the Newbery Honor Books are not runners up for the Medal. They are selected with a different set of criteria. I don't know if that's true, because you'll hear other people telling you otherwise. It's all very mysterious.

Regarding one of the other awards, namely, the Printz: I cannot believe Looking for Alaska, another story about the sad lives led by prep school students (though with lots of sex and smoking), won while a unique story like A Certain Slant of Light didn't get so much as a nod for honor book. Don't people read my blog? I'm fine with I am the Messenger getting honor book, though it did have an awful ending.

And then there is the Alex Award, which is given to "adult books that will appeal to teen readers." Included in this year's list of ten is Never Let Me Go. It is fantastic. An incredible book. And, yes, as I was reading it, I did wonder if this disturbing, sad book would be of interest to teens.

The presence of that one book makes me feel that the other books on the list should be worth a look.

Now, see, I had a lot of things I wanted to talk about today, and I spent all my time on awards. #@!!!

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