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The Call

26 Jan

My term serving as Chair of YALSA’s Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults is almost over. There are still a few things to do. I will host two online celebrations – one for the winners and one to highlight the vetted list of nominations. I am excited to do this, but the most exciting event , The Call, happened a few weeks ago.

I was supposed to be in Indianapolis last week, locked in a room with the other committee members. We should have selected our winner on the weekend and then, make “the call” to that person. COVID changed everything.

Because the video had to be produced early, we had to turn in our winner’s name early January 11 instead of January 24. Fortunately, the nonfiction award works a little differently from most other awards. We chose and announced five finalists in December. It was from those five that our winner was to be selected.

Making the call was a little more complicated than usual. Emails flew back and forth. Me to YALSA. YALSA to the publisher. Finally we had a date and time. The committee members and I arrived to the ZOOM call early as instructed, where we met the two publishing reps. They had told the winner we wanted to talk about the celebration. Not exactly a lie. We were all excited as her name appeared, then, there she was, Candace Fleming.

“Hi Candace,” I began, “I am the chair of YALSA’s Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults and I have some good news for you. Your book, The Rise and Fall of Charles Lindbergh has been chosen as the winner.” I held up my copy book, still full of sticky notes, on which I had placed the gold winner medal. I was the first person to let her see her book with that medal on it.

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