Links Galore

A few more links for today:

The Printz Award: What Does It Mean to Be Excellent in YA?

The Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature (aka “the Printz”) is one of the top honors in the YA community. But what exactly is the Printz Award? How are books chosen and why? Who makes the decisions?

Someday My Printz Will Come, which takes a look at YA lit and the award throughout the year, has a great series going about what the award actually is. One of the big issues raised is “excellence” and what that actually means.

Another part I thought that interesting:

“No one on the committee is carried over from the previous year unless the AA goes on to become a committee member, which means that each committee operates in a vacuum. This in turn means that each committee must grapple with the hard questions anew. Which was, at times, incredibly annoying, but is also very freeing. It doesn’t matter what last year’s committee said about series titles, or how they felt, as an entity, about nonfiction. It only matters what you and the eight people on your committee think.”

So a book that could have dominated in one year could be completely left out the next. I think that ultimately levels the playing field (the award never goes to one kind of book), but I’m sure that’s frustrating when you consider that your book may have been nominated last year but not this year.

Make sure to check out both posts for a good insight into what makes the Printz happen.

Medals Aren’t Just For Olympians

Two things I love: children’s literature and trivia quizzes. And where better for the two to meet than in the Horn Book’s medalist matching game round up? Thanks, Horn Book!

Click through to test your knowledge of Newbery/Caldecott authors and their favorite Newbery/Caldecott books. And don’t worry about clicking on the wrong answer. Instead of shaming you, the Horn Book sends you to even more awesome book trivia. Best quiz ever!

I ended up guessing about 2/3 of the answers correctly, which I’m pretty happy with. Now to go back and make sure I know all the other trivia, too. Have fun!

Get Your Manuscripts Ready

Attention hopeful children’s/YA writers in New England! PEN New England is now accepting submissions for this year’s Susan P. Bloom Children’s Book Discovery Award. I was one of the winners last year and it was a life-changing experience. Although the award doesn’t come with any money, the committee does give the winning manuscripts to editors at publishing houses. (Usually, you’d at least need an agent for that kind of access.) It can mean making wonderful connections in the publishing world, getting thoughtful feedback on your book, and maybe even an offer for publication.

I cannot say enough good things about the PEN New England Children’s Book Committee. They really want to help unpublished writers get ahead and deeply care about literature for children and teens.

You can find the guidelines here. They don’t require letters of recommendation or a statement of purpose, just your work, so there’s no excuse not to get your submission in.

The deadline is Wednesday, February 1, 2012. So start putting together your submission now! Seriously, guys, why are you still reading this? Go!

Best in (YA) Show

We’re almost at the end of the year, which means we’re almost at awards season. No, not just the Oscars. The Awards for Awesomeness in YA. (YALSA, can you make that the official title of your collection of awards? The Hub has a roundup of what these awards are and which books can be nominated.

One I need to check out more is the Alex, which honors books technically for adults but which will appeal to teens as well. Sometimes I get caught up in the YA world and forget that there are good books out there for adults, too.

Also, I would like to hang out with everyone who has ever won the Margaret A. Edwards Award. Seriously. Guys, I will bake for you.

More Than the Parts

It sounds like it should be a simple question: what makes a good Newbery novel? Patricia Lee Gauch tackles this question over at the Horn Book. She comes up with a few key criteria:

  • a remarkable character
  • the right stage (the character’s world)
  • a story arc (the journey the character is on)
  • a question (the character’s need)

Gauch goes into great detail examining all the facets here, using wonderful examples from Newbery winners to illustrate her points. Even just the examples make me giddy with excitement or ache remembering painful moments. All of these books are alive with character, plot, setting, motivation, etc.–the key word being alive. The Newbery books stay in your heart the way most other books don’t. As Gauch says, “I am convinced that the embassy selected these books because they are powerful stories of humanity behaving humanly on powerful stages. It is our culture at its best that we want to share.”

The list above looks so simple, but Gauch’s article indicates that what makes these books stellar is that they’re more than a sum of their parts. Because they work so well on all those levels, they can create an intense emotional experience for the reader–whether that’s joyful or sorrowful or a combination of both. I think all authors strive to hit all items on Gauch’s list, and the ones that really do are the ones we remember for a long time.