Thursday, January 24, 2008

Shame on me - it has been basically 2 weeks since my last post. However, in that period of time I attended ALA Midwinter in Philly and had cervical spine (neck) surgery. So, I warn readers right up front - I am still on painkillers and I cannot vouch for my lucidity! I hope it isn't as bad as Stephen King who says he wrote entire novels while he was drinking that he does not remember having written. If only I could write best selling horror novels under the influence of these things! Best I can do is try to keep up with my email from students. I haven't even checked my listserv emails on my Yahoo email address.

I opened the back door this morning to let Sophie out and she decided that a cat who was born in Houston and lived most of her life in the U.S. Virgin Islands does not "do" snow. But it was glorious fluffy Christmas snow just waiting to be caught on the tongue. However, the sun came out about an hour ago and not only did the snow stop it has already melted off of my car and the roads. Wish I could get in the car and even go to the bookstore but the doctor has warned me against driving while taking these meds - especially in the snow.

Midwinter was wonderful as we discussed our last two choices for the Margaret A. Edwards award and chose Orson Scott Card and chose as honor books Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow. One of my other favorites of his in this series is Shadow of the Giant as I really like Ender's "back up guy" Bean and Petra, the one female in battle school who can hold her own with the elite of the elite. She and Bean are married in Shadow and what happens to their children had me at the edge of my seat - literally, as I listened to it in the car while driving over to Greenville. I had the pleasure of meeting Card several years ago while getting a book signed that I gave to my son who loved Card's books. I booktalked Shadow at a conference and the men in the audience were delighted that I had read and booktalked a true "guy" book. During the break they were telling me about his alternative universe books. So, I have a lot of listening to do as soon as I am healthy enough to do the 9 hour drive over to ECU. The link to the award is:

There has been a lot of controversy about our choice. In my opinion that has occurred because people often misunderstand why a particular choice was made because they don't know the award criteria. When I was an elementary school librarian I would get upset 3rd and 4th grade teachers who had assigned students to choose a Newbery title and when students chose The Midwife's Apprentice by Karen Cushman, or other winners that fall into the upper end of the age range (12-14), the teachers would get upset. I learned early on to explain the award age range and criteria to teachers and parents when they asked for Newbery titles.

The same thing has occurred with the Margaret A. Edwards award. This is an author award for his/her contribution to YA literature in relation to the long term impact his/her YA relevant books have had on teens. Card's Ender's books have been read by teens for decades and loved. You should see the fan site set up for him Lots of way cool stuff on here - clearly he has a following.

I flew home on Sunday, before the choice was announced at ALA Midwinter on Monday morning so I missed a lot of the hoop-la and didn't see the email from the SLJ reporter asking for input until the following article had been written. My input in in the feedback area.
The artist whose feedback indicated Card's books are too violent for children is correct, but these books are not intended for children and I would not give the Ender's books to an 8 year old. Clearly he doesn't know the criteria for the award and is reacting to Card and these particular books being honored from a skewed point of view.

What has caused concern for many in relation to Card winning the Margaret A. Edwarda award are his opinion essays that are loud and clear about his view on homosexuality. These essays are not intended for the teen readership; nor does the award criteria address an author's personal views/values in relation to hot topic issues. Card is a Mormon so a conservative view is to be expected, but we did not consider this in our choice. I like controversy in the sense that it makes people discuss and in these discussions I hope that the criteria and the intent of the Edwards award becomes more clear to those who oppose honoring Card and his Ender's books with this award. And, perhaps it will mean more people will meet Ender and his battle school mates in this wonderful series. And, perhaps they will go on to read other teen appropriate Card titles. Can't wait to hear his acceptance speech at Annual in Anaheim this coming June.

This is a long posting, but I have to talk about one more book. I was so excited when Terry B. gave me the ARC for Nicky Singer's new book GEM X at the Holiday House booth at ALA Midwinter that I jumped up and down in excitement - but not for long as my neck let me know that was not something it liked at all. But, it was worth the short term shot of pain to have this book to read on the plane on the way home. Love it, love it!! My favorite book of 2007 was Singer's The Innocent's Story. (Earlier blog entry discusses this way cool book about a para-spirit - deliciously creepy) so I was very excited to have her upcoming YA novel in my hand. GEM X is so good that I wasn't too upset about the plane delay in Chicago as I had more time to finish it. Love the cover art - the side view of a teenage guy's face, flawless except for a small "crack" at the corner of his closed eye. This is not within 16-year-old Maxo's comprehension as his particular "generation" of genetically altered "humans" are perfect in every way. However, genetics does have a way of besting even the most skilled scientists, as happens in this case and that crack on Maxo's face is actually a wrinkle. Maxo is aging - not acceptable at all. When he is by himself and he looks closely at the crack in his face the unearthly scream he emits radiates right off the page. I was hooked and that scene is on page 4. To make matters worse he sees, on the surveillance cameras, a female Dreggie, what they call "natural" humans who work for the genetically altered populace and live in ghetto like conditions. She isn't GEM X perfect, but she is facinating to him and he can't get her out of his mind. How can Maxo be fascinated by a Dreggie, but he is and what happens to both Maxo and Gala, the strong willed teenage girl caring for her mother who is dying of cancer, will hold the reader to the very end. I hope someday to meet Singer and tell her how much I love her books. I need to find a copy of Feather Boy as I have yet to read her 3rd YA novel. Can't wait to booktalk this Holiday House title that is scheduled to hit the bookstores in December 2008.

Enough for today.