August is passing with reading, reading and reading -- but most of it is because I am judging the National Book Awards, young people's literature category. SO I CAN'T TELL YOU ABOUT IT.
For those of you who don't follow these things, the history of the NBA is pretty interesting, and the Wikipedia version is here (not authoritative, but probably basically the gist of it). The NBA online exhibition of the YPL award winners and finalists is below (I've linked to it before.)
Anyway, what happens is that publishers submit the books -- and they can be fiction, nonfiction, poetry, graphic novels, picture books, middle-grade, young adult -- anything! We are a committee of five -- three writers (one is me), one librarian and one bookseller. All in the field of children's literature. We read read read read read read, and discuss at length. Then we come up with a longlist of ten books that will be announced Sept 12.
About a month later, the finalists from that list are announced. The five authors have a month to stew and worry -- and then we have a big PARTY at Cipriani. It is black tie! All the finalists do a big reading the night before the party, which is open to the public and which is pretty incredible.
Anyway. Party. Black tie. I am planning to wear a J. Crew party dress that is very pretty but maybe not as flattering as it might be. Unless I find something even better. And they have fancy writers and supporters of literature and people give speeches and they give the award. Also, lots of people liveTweet it, which is quite fun. And I get to give the award! Because I am the Chair of the YPL committee.
Which means maybe I SHOULD get a new dress.
But seriously. It is not about the dress. It is about the books.
A few things I've read this summmer that I can tell you about:
GOBLIN SECRETS by William Alexander. This was our Mother-Daughter Book Club pick, and it won the NBA last year. Alexander talked at the Hamline MFA program when I taught there in July, and he was fascinating -- discussing everything from Shakesperean theater to the Muppets, both influences on the novel.
Amulet of the Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud. I am in the middle of this on audio. So MUCH FUN. Why did it take me so long?
Bronxville by Coe Booth. This is a sequel to Tyrell, which I also loved, but I think it stands alone. It is in some ways a romance, in other ways a harsh and heartbreaking story of life in Bronx housing projects and a boy who is trying to find his way in a really tough situation.