Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Win or go home

So, the big awards came out yesterday. Lotsa hoo-ha.

A few things pleased me mightily:

WOLFSNAIL! The little non-fiction book that could (win a Geisel Honor, that is). When I plucked it more or less at random off a cart, I was surprised and amused at the idea of a predatory snail. After I read it, I was SO impressed that the book was based on direct observation instead of being rehashed from an encyclopedia entry. And indeed, the photos are beautiful and the prose is effective. But come on, a predatory garden snail? That is just funny.

Becoming Billie Holiday got a Coretta Scott King Honor. This was the first book I reviewed for School Library Journal. I was so honored to have been sent such a special book, especially the first time out. I sweated blood over that review, conscious that it was going to be in the running for awards this year. What I wrote is on Amazon.

A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever. Oh do I love this book! Maybe I've mentioned it before. Ah, yes, it appears I have. I like Marla Frazee quite a lot - she has a rare ability to crack up grownups and still be appealing to children. She's like Sesame Street in book form.

Garmann's Summer got that prize for a book in translation. I think it is more notable for the illustrations than the text, but I'm just pleased it got the recognition. It's a weird book but it addresses fear - in a fearless way - which I think is something we need to see more of.

Stinky got a Geisel Honor, and I'm going to agree with that. I think Eleanor Davis has a fresh approach to color and knows what kids like.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian got an Odyssey Award. What's an Odyssey Award, you ask? And why is this spectacular book so far down the list? Well, Odyssey is an audiobook award, and Our Sherm got it for reading his own book. Hmph. He should have gotten the Printz for it, and he didn't. Not this year, and not last year. And the audio version is out of print already according to Amazon.

I'm extremely happy, though, to see Stephen Briggs recognized for his narration of Terry Pratchett's Nation. Briggs is a frickin' NUT when it comes to reading this stuff - his character voices actually cause me pain. I tried reading A Hat Full of Sky out loud to my kids after we had heard the audiobook of The Wee Free Men, and when I tried to imitate the way he did the Nac Mac Feegle (the wee free men), I think I herniated my larynx. And Nation is a terrific book, even if it dwells a little heavily on matters of faith and dogma.

A few things displeased me:

Where is Adam Rex when these things come around? The guy can paint, he can draw. He can cartoon. He can write doggerel poetry worthy of Punch. He's funny as can be. Kids of all ages like his stuff. And he showed, with The True Meaning of Smekday, that he can write long-form fiction too. So what's it going to take for him to get a little recognition? Sheesh.

The House in the Night? FTW? Over the similarly-themed and much more kid-friendly (hint: kids like color) In a Blue Room? I don't know. It didn't do anything for me, although I agree that the art is very nice. I just... I think that the art in this book is for grownups. I much preferred Susan Marie Swanson's previous To Be Like the Sun.

The Newbery titles, with the possible exception of the Big Winnah Mistah Gaiman's Book, are ALL GIRL BOOKS. UH.GAIN. AM I TIRED of trying to find books for boys who are told "Read an award-winning book". They've already READ Hatchet, ok? (Ooh, nice new cover on Hatchet, BTW) Throw my guys a bone, willya? Hold your nose and give Diary of a Wimpy Kid an award. It's not so bad!

Well, that's all. Tune in next year when I get to grouse about awards again. Better yet, keep your eye on the Cybils Awards - I actually participated in those, so I will have no room to complain!


mamele said...

can i just tell you how much i enjoy this blog? you're mouthy. i like that.

totally with you in the love of marla frazee and the hmmm reaction to house in the night over in a blue room (the latter was HUGE with my 4-yr-old; the former didn't connect at all).

my 7-yr-old was crazy about and memorized most of frankenstein makes a sandwich, but was really disappointed by FMAC. i thought it did err on the side of "funny for grownups" -- my daughter KNEW there was too much she wasn't getting, and felt frustrated and left out.

Sarah Campbell said...

Thank you for your kind words about Wolfsnail. When the publisher called me he could hardly keep a straight tone -- a predatory snail ... and no one else has written about it ... and you just happen to be the expert ... (of course, I'm not really an expert). But I watched mighty carefully. Thanks for keeping the guys in mind.