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#alamw16 It’s all over but the reading

13 Jan

In addition to getting to know the members of the Morris committee, I got to know some people on other committees because we all moved in similar conference circles. Although we couldn’t tell each other details about what went on in the rooms where our decisions were made, but we could talk about some things we shared, like what we’d read now that our committee work was over.

At the end of our deliberations, we, like most other committees, talked about two things:

  • what we thought might win an award at the Youth Media Awards
  • what we plan to read, now that our committee service is over.

One person related that two members of her committee were going to spend two months reading nothing but Regency romances!

Another person said she was going to spend the next two months watching TV.

A person I met from the Great Graphics committee was going to take a break from graphic novels.

Most members of my committee expressed a real interest in the 2K16 debut authors that next year’s Morris committee will be reading.

Some people planned to catch up on all the books they missed in 2015, but most are just going to move on and not try to get “caught up”.

A lot of us, regardless of committee membership, planned to read some of the winners of other awards. few of us were able to make many predictions because it was hard to read anything that didn’t fall into our committee’s purview.

I have a two things sitting on my shelf that won awards and they will be among the first things that I read.

Unknown The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B is written by Teresa Toten .   It was the Winner of  the Schneider Family Teen award which honors a book for the artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences

Unknown-1 All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely was Coretta Scott king honor book.

And that’s all I know for now. I also have some personal knitting I want to do, which will involve listening to an audiobook or two, but I am just not sure what yet. I am looking forward to whatever 2016 brings me.



#alama16: O the joy!

12 Jan

I was awake for 23 hours yesterday, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

It was my last day in Boston at the 106 ALA Midwinter Meeting, and it was THE day: the day of the  Youth Media Awards. A year’s worth of work distilled to a moment in time.

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I got up at 5 to get ready, check out of my hotel and be at the Convention Center for our 6:20 Morris Committee photo. I can tell you now that we had called our winner Saturday afternoon, but other committees called that morning and were very excited. We were a little more subdued.

After a visit to Starbucks we went to the ballroom, where the giant line had started forming. I can’t deny that I felt a little smug that I didn’t have to line up. Committee members get reserved seating at the front.

Oh, but there was a buzz in the air. Such excitement and anticipation. Just as things got started, the emotion of it all got to me and  got a  little teary-eyed. Then, I puled myself together  as the first announcements began.

When our award came up, you cold feel the nine of us tense up. Would people like our decision? As the names of our five finalists were read, I gauged the audience reaction on the applause-o-meter in my head. And the roar of the audience when it was announced was a huge relief.It was amazing to see my name up there alongside the names of people I have come to consider friends.

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The awards ended and about an hour later, we had round 2: The Morris and YA nonfiction awards ceremony. We moseyed over to that room, so far away it felt like we should leave a trail of breadcrumbs, to get things set up.

Here is the unexpected thing. I knew the job of my committee was to pick the best YA debuts published in 2015. I knew this was important in the careers of these young writers. I didn’t realize the emotional impact t would have on all of the.

Four of the five finalists were present. Kelly Loy Gilbert is at the stage in her pregnancy when she is not allowed to fly, so she appeared by video. Ana-Marie McLemore was the first speaker up and the honesty and self-reflection she put into the few minutes of her speech had me teary-eyed. Stephanie Oakes went next and by then, there were full on tears. Leah Gilbert started off with humor, as she does in her book, then got me weepy again. By the time Becky Albertalli, got up, I felt as though I’d been through an emotional wringer.

The publishers had arranged a “champagne and canapés” party for the committee and the authors, because, although we’d spent months reading and taking their books apart, we hadn’t really met them. It was wonderful because, again, they all shared how much this genuinely meant to them.

From there, I was off to the airport. I got there early, but I was so emotionally drained by that time, I was happy to sit for a while and just watch people.  Our flight boarded on time.  When I was finally seated and ready to just reflect on the wonder and emotion of the day, the fight attendant announced that because of some soccer person (who I think might have been on our flight) every passenger over the age of 21 could get a free drink. The icing on the cake.

I arrived home around one this morning and will go pick Lucy up shortly. I go back to work tomorrow. My life is returning to its normal rhythm and hum, but the emotion and excitement of the last few days will stay with me forever.



#alamw16 Youth Awards Eve

11 Jan


Day 3 opened with a 6:45 breakfast hosted by Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group (MCPG). Thanks goodness it took place in my hotel so I got up later than people coming from other hotels. There was a lovely breakfast spread with lots of choices, followed by presentations by the editorial directors of MCPG’s imprints

Farrar, Strauss and Giroux

Feiwel and Friends

Swoon Reads

Henry Holt

Roaring Book Press

First Second

Upon exiting we were given a lovely bags of arcs making for a very worthwhile morning out. I went straight back to my room and packed up the books I wanted to send home and walked over to the post office in the exhibition hall.

The hall seemed really empty when I arrived. When I got to the post office, there was no one there, which was quite a change from the summer when I waited over an hour in line. Funnily enough, when I got up to the counter, I commented on the absence of others and the clerk replied that they weren’t really open yet, but would take care of me. I asked the time and was surprised to discover it was only 8:50. I hadn’t checked the time and assumed it was later that it was.

I had planned to spend the rest of the day as tourist, exploring Boston, but it was raining sideways so I decided that I’d sit in on a few sessions then go back to the hotel for a break.

After resting, I changed clothes for my evening event, but ventured back to the convention center for one sore session with 2017 debut authors. It was interesting but a little sad, because the 2017 Morris  committee  is tasked with reading and thinking about these authors.

From there, I went to another MCPG event at a restaurant called The Merchant.


This was a small event with the MCPG editors and directors interspersed with the people from various committees. we had a choice of salads (mixed greens or arugula) and main courses (beef, chicken or swordfish). I had the swordfish. It was all followed by strawberry shortcake. The food was delicious but the conversation was fantastic.

I was home by 9:30 to pack and get ready for tomorrow. The Morris Committee has to be at the convention Center for a group photo at 6:20. That means I have to check out by 6:00. Monday is pretty much booked with Morris related activities until 3, then I go to the airport.

I hope you take the time to watch the live webcast of the Youth Media Awards. they start at 8:00 AM ET today. If you live on the west coast and can’t watch live you can watch the rebroadcast later.

#alamw16 Mum’s the Word

10 Jan


Although I am generally a morning person, I got rolling slowly Saturday morning. I got up at 7:00, but my body is still on West Coast time, so it felt as though I was getting up at 4:00.

Once I left the hotel, I made my way over to the Exhibit Hall and, before I knew it, I had a bag full of books. Thank goodness it is s quick trip to the hotel and back. I dropped off the books before heading out for lunch before going to the Morris Committee meeting.

Although I’d run into a couple of the other committee members Friday evening, this was the first time we’d all been together since June. After some catching up we jumped right in. I can;t say anything about what happened inside the room except that I had a really enjoyable time discussing the merits and faults of each book and we made a decision. Now, I have to stay quiet until Monday. I feel as though I want to burst, but mum’s the word.


#alamw16 It’s A Wonderful Life

9 Jan


After getting up early yesterday, I made it to the airport in a timely manner. After clearing security, I made my way to my gate, where they were announcing that, due to a lack of tailwinds, we’d be leaving 10 minutes early, if we could get everyone aboard. Apparently everyone heard the message because we left about 10 minutes early and the pilot announced he’d fly a little faster than planned to help the people on board who had tight connections. I love flying Alaska Airlines!

I had an aisle seat, which gave me the opportunity to get up, stretch or take a walk. I managed to finish the last reread before we landed, on time, in Boston. My research turned out to be true: free transportation on the Silver Line from the airport. I caught the bus and was in my hotel room by 4:30. I unpacked and had a shower to refresh myself before venturing out.

It is a 5 minute walk from my hotel to the convention center. I walked over there to get my badge before heading over to my first event. The weather in Boston is uncharacteristically warm, and is forecast to be so until Monday, when it will dip closer to freezing again.

My first event was cocktails with Holiday House Publishing. It was a nice event where they were featuring some of their new books, but that also had picture book art on display. They had delicious creamy tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches to eat. After flying all day, I was feeling a little dehydrated and hungry, so I really enjoyed this meal! I also ran into a couple of my committee members.

I swung back to my hotel, the Boston Seaport, which is quite nice. I have a king size bed in my room and the bathrobes are really fluffy. I dropped off my conference bag and the arcs I’d collected and regrouped for a while before heading off to downtown Boston to a restaurant called The Top of the Hub for dessert reception with Cassandra Clare to promote her newest Shadowhunter book, Lady Midnight, which kicks off a new Shadowhunter series.


The Top of the Hub, 50 floors up, has amazing views of Boston. As we got off the elevator, we were greeted by a waiter bearing blue drinks. They were pretty, but a little strong for my taste. As I wandered through the room, I stopped first at the cheese table. But everyone in line wondered where the desserts were. As we rounded the corner in the L-shaped room, looking for a table we realized there were lots of dessert tables. I sat and chatted for a bit while I ate my cheese, then decided to peruse the other options. There was a sundae table, donut & cookie tables, a cotton candy table. I thought I’d reached the end, but then, the crowd at the end of the room parted and I saw the crepe table. Delightful!

I got my crepe, then sat and chatted with a committee member and a few other people we knew joined us. Shortly afterwards, a Simon & Schuster rep let us know Cassandra was going to speak shortly, so we finished up and moved closer to where that would occur.


I left shortly after that, tired but content, and with a full stomach. Here’s what I collected over the course of a few hours yesterday.


My committee meets at 1:00 this afternoon. We have to narrow our 5 books down to one winner. Wish us luck!

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