deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
I've been going interlibrary loan-mad lately (my to be read list at worldcat has gotten a little out of control what with all of the books you people recommend), and I've just finished Five Flavors of Dumb, by Antony John, this year's Schneider family teen book award winner. The award goes to that book which "embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences" which is actually not what I think this book does. I think it's a young adult book about a girl who wants to go to college, who wants to have friends, who's decided to challenge herself by making a punk rock band succeed when she doesn't care about punk rock, who is deaf, who may or may not be interested in boys, who has family difficulties, who has to learn to see other people and their problems as well as her own. This book embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience as much as it embodies an artistic expression of the high school experience, of the first boyfriend experience, of the high school rock band experience. And that's what's awesome about it. Of course deafness is integral to the story, but so are all the other elements. Presenting this book as a disability story does it a disservice -- and yet that's why I read it. Y'all should read it, as well.

Also, the happy nappy bookseller keeps reminding me about the Nerds Heart YA bracket which is explicitly the opposite of a popularity contest.

To qualify for Nerds Heart YA 2011 a book must:

Have been published between Jan 1st 2010 and Dec 31st 2010

Contain significant characters that fit into at least one of the seven categories of under represented groups that the Nerds Heart YA organisers have identified, or have been written by an author who comes from within one of these groups of people

Be young adult fiction

Be a book that you feel has been under represented by book blog coverage.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
I continue to be troubled by the Edwards awards. Here is the list of previous winners of the Edwards award.
24 winners )Maybe I'm missing something, but out of 24 winners I count two authors of color (both black), three out queer women (and two authors of explicitly homophobic books to balance them out). As long as I am running statistics in my head, I also get two authors of nonfiction,11 authors known primarily for their realistic fiction for young readers, 4 authors known primarily for fantasy or science fiction for adults, 1 author known primarily for suspense and mystery for young readers, 1 author known primarily for humor.

When compared with the Printz (11 winners, 4 winners of color -- 2 black, one Korean born American, one American of Taiwanese descent; no out authors), the Edwards starts looking like they are not really paying attention to representation when they make statements of lifetime achievement. And I don't just mean representation vis-à-vis the usual factors, but also genre. In those 11 years, Printz winners included one fantasy graphic novel, two post-apocalyptic novels (one far future and one near future), one humor novel, and a couple of really weird surrealist pieces. No mysteries, horror, nonfiction, romance, or thrillers. (Expanding to include the Printz honors-- which isn't fair, because the Edwards award only gets to honor one person the year, so I should be comparing apples to apples -- nets you a whole variety of things I'm not going to run statistics on right now, including several out authors, a heroic crown of sonnets, a couple of books which are at least kinda-kinda as far as fat politics goes, steampunk, autobiography, nonfiction, funny chicklit, and yes, Terry Pratchett. Also a wide variety of books about queerness written by straight people and books about people of color written by white people, but at least the books in question are awesome.)

In this light, I am more happy about the Pratchett award in the Edwards' just because that means they have finally given an award to humor, although personally I'd have been happier to see it go to someone like Pinkwater. Nancy Werlin would go a long way to approaching the dearth of representation for suspense and mystery. I can't even begin to approach the absence of horror from that list. I'm not fond of the genre myself, but even if you don't want to credit R. L. Stine, Christopher Pike, and Anthony Horowitz, you could give a little bit of love to John Bellairs. Chicklit would be well represented by Meg Cabot.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
I'm thinking more about why I am upset about the history of the Margaret A Edwards Award for Lifetime Achievement. (I want to thank [personal profile] astern for helping me work this out in my head.)

Four authors who are not primarily known as authors for children or young adult have won the Edwards award, and all of them are F&SF authors -- and I think this is wrong. I'd like to state for the record that there are plenty of books by McCaffrey, LeGuin, Card, and Pratchett on my bookshelf, and there were a hell of a lot more when I was a preteen.

I think this is nerds (i.e. librarians) giving book awards to the authors they loved as preteens, and not paying attention to the requirements of the award, that it be for books that are for a wide range of teens. It contributes to the (now ridiculously outdated) stereotype that only nerds read for pleasure. It rewards the authors of crap books which had strong effect on geekery (Anne McCaffery) and ignores the authors of books which had broad effect on everyone else.

And if you think I'm wrong, ask yourself if Ann M Martin or Francine Pascal or R. L. Stine or Zoey Dean will ever win an ALA lifetime achievement award.

Or, hell, Stephenie Meyer. JK Rowling has at least a snowball's chance in hell, which is more than you can say for any of those others.

The point is, If you're lucky, you can give the award to high-quality authors who are heavily praised by book mediators AND have wide readership. If you are less lucky, you can give the award to the high-quality authors who are heavily praised by book mediators, but who might not get as much wide readership. Or you can give the award to books which really do have wide popular appeal and effect. But giving the award to books which have never been part of the young adult mediated readership AND who don't have wide appeal/readership outside of the very specific subculture? That's pandering to yourself and your own interests, and that's just embarrassing.

(I don't think it's impossible for adult authors who are popular with teens to write books which should win awards for spectacular young adult fiction. But that "mere marketing category" that differentiates books popular with teens from books marketed to teens is something that's really important and shouldn't be elided. Part of being a successful young adult author is negotiating the gulf between the book he or she wants to write, what the gatekeepers think is acceptable, and what teens choose to read. That's incredibly difficult, and part of what the youth media awards are designed for is celebrating the books that fall into that space. That doesn't mean books that don't fall into that cannot be wonderful, worthy of praise, and praiseworthy SPECIFICALLY for being beloved by adolescents. But it does mean that maybe they shouldn't be winning awards specifically for rewarding an underserved, well, marketing category. There's a genre difference between The Colour of Magic and The Wintersmith, and that marketing category has something to do with it.)
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] diceytillerman has posted an informative and thoughtful response to Kathryn Nolfi's article in Horn Book Magazine, "YA Fatphobia".

And now, insta-reactions to the American Library Association youth media awards.

The True Meaning of Smekday's audiobook won the Odyssey Award for best audio book, so BOOYEAH. The book deserves more awards than that, but at least it's got one.

I find it really entertaining the ordering of the announcement is left over from the days when the Newbery and Caldecott were the most important awards and all that anybody cared about, but in this day and age the YA awards get more popular attention.

Sad faces:

Edwards award: Terry Pratchett has done a lot of wonderful things, and should be honored while he can still appreciate it, but he is not even remotely the correct recipient for the Margaret A. Edwards award for Lifetime Achievement in Young Adult Literature.

Morris award: I admit I haven't read Freak Observer, but I have very strong feelings about Hush and how it should have won pretty much every award for which it was eligible. So poo. (And why was Hold Me Closer, Necromancer shortlisted? It was totally fun, absolutely BBYA material, but it dropped a lot of plot threads.)

Printz award: I have heard that Ship Breaker is wonderful, and it's actually the next book on my to be read pile, but where, again, was Hush anywhere on that short list? Seriously, that book was amazing.

[personal profile] astern pointed out that all of the Stonewall winners are about boys. None of them is about two girls in a relationship. Especially annoying since A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend is very similar to Will Grayson, Will Grayson, but 10 times better.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
Laura's post in the DCA blog today makes me feel old: Kathleen Hanna's personal papers are being added to the Riot Grrrl collection at NYU. Laura asks what will be your archival moment; what will be the moment that makes you realize your youth is now being preserved for scholarship and historians?

How about those Youth Media Awards, eh? as usual, I've read almost none of the winners or honor books in advance of the award. I did read Punkzilla, and I quite enjoyed it, although I was initially confused by its selection as a Printz Honor. When I think about it, though, in some ways it resembles the 2002 Honor book Freewill, and I admit that one of the things I love about the Printzes is how eclectic they are. (Also, I'm quite pleased that Wintergirls didn't win anything. I thought it was beautiful, lyrical, and a lovely book aside from its rushed conclusion -- but I also thought it was a clever and detailed how-to guide about how to hide an eating disorder from your caregivers, and it was so effectively in the voice of the eating disordered protagonist that I came out of that book finding my body disgusting and food vile. As much as it was well-written, I really don't want to give it any awards which will increase the number of readers it has.)

Closing another tab, the Useful Chemistry blog has a fantastic post about learning what data sources to trust (and concludes, "none of them, at least not without caveats").

Hmm. I have a lot more I want to blog about but my department is downstairs having wine and cheese, and it seems illogical for me to be sitting upstairs while there is cheese downstairs.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
(Update: I found the abstracts (PDF). They give a really good overview of the conference.)

I spent the weekend of 4 July (happy birthday, Berthe Erica Crow!) in Bristol, at the fabulous first ever Diana Wynne Jones conference, put together by Charlie Butler ([personal profile] steepholm) and Farah Mendlesohn ([livejournal.com profile] fjm).

I presented my paper, "Disrupted Expectations: Young/Old Protagonist in Diana Wynne Jones Novels," first, so I didn't yet realize how poor the visibility of the room was, and I didn't stand up to give my paper. Based on what I saw in later papers, I realize this was a mistake. Still, it seemed reasonably well received. Hopefully there will be conference proceedings soon, though if not, I will be putting the paper up myself.

I am writing up some of my notes from the papers for my own future reference, although what I really wish were available were the abstracts, which give you a good idea of the richness of ideas which were discussed. My notes here are very very preliminary and aren't representative of anything in particular -- only for which papers I scribbled things in the margins which I can now understand. Descriptions of some papers I'm not writing up )

Tui Head: 'The Girl in Adventure Fiction' )

Ika Willis: 'Mum's a silly fusspot: the queering of family in Diana Wynne Jones' )


Martha Hixon: 'Power Plays: Paradigms of Power in Three Jones Novels' )


Jameela Lares: 'Discovery As Virtuous Action in the Fantasy of Diana Wynne Jones' )

Deborah Gascoyne: 'Why Don't You Be a Tiger? The Performative, Transformative and Creative Power of the Word in the Universes of Diana Wynne Jones' )


Jenny Pausacker: 'The Storyteller: Counsel in Diana Wynne Jones' )


Kyra Jucovy: 'Little Sister Is Watching You: Archer's Goon and 1984' )


Caroline Webb: 'False Pretenses and the Real Show: Identity and Performance in Conrad's Fate' )


David Rudd: 'Building Castles in the Air: (De)construction in Howl's Moving Castle' )

Finally, I can't over emphasize how wonderful the conference was socially and intellectually. The level of the conversation (sitting around talking about books we've all read what other smart people) was fabulous, and meeting people whom I previously only known on the Internet, via the DWJ mailing list, LJ, or both, was just amazing. Not to mention the people I'd never known online before either, who I really did meet for the first time.

I don't want to get into naming names because then I will miss somebody and feel appallingly stupid, but [personal profile] steepholm and [livejournal.com profile] fjm of course, although for neither of them was my first time meeting them, because they have both been previously lovely hosts to the wandering American in Britain at various times. And Hallie and Katta and *brain explodes from effort of not naming everyone awesome that I met*... Also, thanks to Gili, I now have Archer's Goon in Hebrew.

On a separate note, two of my friends -- one of whom, you might have noticed, just ran an amazing conference on Diana Wynne Jones -- won Mythopoeic Awards! Congratulations, Charlie and Kristin!
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
I have such mixed feelings about Flora's Dare having won the Andre Norton award. On the other hand, I have mad love for the only other one of the nominees I'd had a chance to read so far, namely, Graceling. On the other hand, I think that Graceling seems to be getting a lot of (very well-deserved) buzz, while Flora's Dare Seems to be much less well-known, at least among children's literature folks. So here's hoping that Cashore and Wilce both get all of the buzz they deserve, and both get widely pushed on young adult fantasy readers as the splendid books they are.

And yes, I KNOW I have to read everything else on the list! I am so ashamed of myself. But first I have to review these five books sitting on my desk, and before I can do that I need to finish one of them, and then I need to *cough* write the paper I will be presenting in two months.
deborah: the Library of Congress cataloging numbers for children's literature, technology, and library science (Default)
ALA Midwinter report, part 1: children's and young adult

True Story being used here for Metaphorical Purposes: I'm a butcher's daughter, and used to watch the sausage being made. Now I'm a vegetarian.

I don't suspect that's going to happen -- quite -- with my opinions of the words the American Library Association awards to children's and young adult literature. After all, they have a fairly good record. Being an ALA Notable winner is a good hint that a book might be worth reading. Might. Still, the sessions were enlightening to watch.

The sad )

The good )
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