Monday, January 14, 2008

ALA Awards for 2008

Did you see the announcement of the ALA awards for children’s and YA literature? Poetry was all over the place! I was fortunate enough to attend the announcement press conference as part of the first ever Odyssey Award committee for best audiobook of the year and I kept nudging my friend next to me, saying, “That’s poetry.” “That one’s poetry.” “That’s poetry, too.” It was so exciting. Top of the list? The NEWBERY award! Congratulations to Laura Amy Schlitz for Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village (Candlewick), a truly amazing work of history, poetry, drama, and detail. You may remember that our prescient Cybils poetry committee chose it for our short list of the best poetry of the year, too!

But wait, there was more!
One of the Printz honor books for YA literature is a powerful work of poetry, Your Own, Sylvia: A Verse Portrait of Sylvia Plath by Stephanie Hemphill (Knopf, an imprint of Random House). Way to go, Stephanie! This book also is rich in history and biography, but offers poems echoing the style of Plath, about Plath herself. (It’s also on the Cybils short list of best poetry of the year!)

One of the Coretta Scott King author honor books is also a work of poetry: Twelve Rounds to Glory The Story of Muhammad Ali written by Charles R. Smith Jr., illustrated by Bryan Collier (Candlewick). More history, more biography, more poetry—this one is a shout-out read aloud with dynamic images in words and art.

Margarita Engle, author of The Poet Slave of Cuba: A Biography of Juan Francisco Manzano, illustrated by Sean Qualls (Holt) is the 2008 Pura Belpré Author Award recipient honoring Latino authors and illustrators whose work best portrays, affirms and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in children's books. This is a complex and gritty poetry-story of the life of nineteenth-century Cuban slave Juan Francisco Manzano from multiple points of view.

The Schneider Family Award for books that embody the artistic expression of the disability experience went to a work of poetry: Reaching for Sun by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer (Bloomsbury). It is the winner in the middle grades category (age 11-13) and is a gentle novel-in-verse about a young girl growing up with a lively spirit and cerebral palsy, too. Congratulations, Tracie! (I mentioned this gem previously in my entry on April 5, 2007.)

Finally, I’m thrilled to say that our very own Odyssey Award for excellence in audiobook production was also awarded to a work of poetry: Walter Dean Myers's Jazz (produced by Live Oak Media). Dual narrators read, say, and sing these poems with verve and vitality against a backdrop of original jazz music. In addition, Walter Dean Myers will deliver the 2009 May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture, as an “individual of distinction in the field of children's literature.” (I’ve also blogged about Jazz several times since it also received the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award [See Feb. 21, 2007] and when Jazz received a CSK illustrator honor citation for son Christopher Myer’s vibrant illustrations [See Jan. 24, 2007].)

I’m happy to say that ALL of these books appeared on my own lists of the best poetry of 2007 (see Dec. 31, 2007) or 2006 (see Dec. 29, 2006). How wonderful to see these rich and engaging works of poetry get the recognition they deserve. Now I hope they will also find their way into the hands of many young readers!

This week's Poetry Friday Roundup is at Becky's Farm School.
Picture credit:


Andromeda Jazmon said...

You are absolutely right - it is and was a great day for poetry!

Anonymous said...

There are poetry titles on the Children's Notable list as well - Tap Dancing on the Roof is there, as is Here's a Little Poem, Today and Today, Yum! Mmmmm! Que Rico!, Miss Crandall's School, and Blue Lipstick.

Tough Boy Sonatas made the BBYA list, and Blue Lipstick made the Quick Picks list.

And I know there were some verse novels on the lists as well. A great year for poetry.

Becky said...

It is terrific to see poetry books, especially poetry for children, bursting forth like this. I was thrilled to see the Cybils short list this year!

Sylvia Vardell said...

Thank you, fellow poetry lovers! It's so fun to see the poetry we love get appreciated by others! :-)