Jan. 10th, 2011

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)
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)
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.
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