Final ALA wrap-up–the Printz Award!

I’ve never been to the Printz Awards before. I love YA books and truly believe we are living in a golden age for YA fiction in particular, but by Monday night I am pretty ready to head back home. So I haven’t been before, but I will go again!

A.S. King (Please Ignore Vera Dietz) gave a a powerful, perfectly crafted speech–the best speech I heard in the entire conference and one that I will watch again if they put it on Youtube.  Any parent of a teen would benefit by watching it too, because she speaks so honestly and persuasively about how her mother brought up difficult subjects with her and how she does with her own children. She just makes so much sense. There is a section in the speech about her mother in the hospital that had everyone sitting up straight and many of us crying.

Paolo Bacigalupi won the Printz for Ship Breaker and also gave a passionate, moving speech about how exciting it is for a science fiction book to win the Printz, and about the world we are leaving to our kids. As he said, “I depress the crap out of myself sometimes,” and it was not a kumbaya kind of speech, but it was  funny and wise. The response of the Little Brown group in attendance was hilarious as well.

The other speeches were very good, too, and it was just so fun to be part of a group celebrating books for teens. The only odd note was a reception with not the expected desserts but instead chips and dip. Big bowls of barbecue chips and corn tortilla chips.  It must have seemed like a good idea to someone at the time, but since I hadn’t had dinner, and had a 5:00 am shuttle to catch so wouldn’t have breakfast either, it wasn’t my favorite part.

One more fun thing yesterday was attending a grown-up function for the CIS-Proquest customer appreciation breakfast. The selling point was a speech by Roy Blount, Jr., and just like on Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me (the NPR radio comedy show) he drawled and meandered and made lots of good and funny points about language. One comment I particularly appreciated–and I can’t remember it perfectly to do it justice–was about how language has developed to slide easily off the tongue, but that now it’s developing to be easy on the thumbs.

So that’s just a few highlights of this year’s conference. I highly recommend going to ALA if you can spare the time and money. It’s a lot of effort but so worth it.

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