Following the CSK Awards breakfast were ALSC awards celebrations on Sunday and Monday. ALSC (Association for Library Services to Children) is the administering body for many well known (and some lesser known but equally high quality) Youth Media awards. Youth Media = books, videos, and audios. Newbery and Caldecott are the two longest standing American Children’s Book Awards, of course, but then there are also: the Belpre for Latina/o Book Creators, Batchelder for Books in Translation, Arbuthnot Lecture, Wilder Lifetime Achievements, the Sibert for Nonfiction, the Geisel for Beginning Readers, the Carnegie for Videos, and the Odyssey for Audiobooks. All of the 2016 winners and honorees were publicly celebrated on these two days.
The Newbery/Caldecott/Wilder banquet is always an elegant and happy affair with more than 1,000 in attendance, well crafted speeches, and a long receiving line that pushes the event way past midnight if you choose to hang around (or don’t have a choice because you work for the publishing companies!) The three acceptance speeches are printed in this month’s Horn Book Magazine: Newbery, Caldecott, Wilder. I also took a couple of snapshots and posted them at the end of this post.
Each year, I have also routinely attended the Monday morning award presentation of Sibert, Geisel, Batchelder, and Carnegie since ALSC started hosting this celebration and have always come away awed by the richness and dedication of writers, artists, editors, producers in creating high quality works that powerfully impact young people’s lives! This year was no exception. The bonus reel for me was meeting David Adler, the 2016 Geisel Award winner for Don’t Throw It To Mo. Adler has been a beginning readers author for almost half a century and his Cam Jansen series held special significance in the Feldman household: it marked my daughter’s journey from a pre-reader to a completely independent reader back in 2006. I had to take a picture with Adler and told him that it was Cam Jansen that made my daughter a true reader. He humbly replied that if it were not his series, some other beginning readers would have done it, too. But I must beg to differ here — it is because Adler not only understands text cadences for very beginning readers, but he also understands that perhaps a young and bright minded girl would want to see herself reflected in some way in the stories she encounters so there is a connection between the act of reading and the reader herself. No, it had to be Cam Jansen and not just “some other series.”
Here’s David Adler with his much deserved Geisel Medal!
For the first time, this year I also attended the Odyssey Award for audio book production presentation Monday Afternoon and it was simply fabulous. We were treated to a humorous Infographs slideshow documenting the total minutes the Committee spent listening, the yardage of yarn knitted, the sacrificed one must make (not spending time with the family, not watching football on TV, not reading print books, etc.,) and the number of headphones used to their bitter-ends and many other Odyssey Committee Only Experiences! We then were treated to the amazing live performances and speeches from the voice actors and musicians! I especially adored the impassioned speeches by the performers and producers that sheds light on what a labor of love and how much expertise it is needed to produce a single good audiobook.
My biggest take-away from this event is that even though Odyssey is for audiobook Production and not for the Content of the original text, these two are indeed deeply intertwined. Jayne Entwistle, the reader for The War That Saved My Life, told us that she was so deeply moved by the book and its characters, she cried multiple times at the studio while recording this book. She teared up and pretty much sobbed just to recall how much she loved this text. Her narration and character acting showcase not only how highly skilled she is but also why there is a certain kind of genuine gravitas and presence that a lesser text would not have inspired: the skills would still have been there, but the not-at-all-easily-quantifiable, extra LIFE would not have. Attending this event, I gained added insights for my own task in being part of the selecting committee of the 2017 Odyssey award winners — hope to see many people joining us at this really lovely event next June in Chicago!