Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Banner Year for Nonfiction (and, Getting “The Call”)

Since I.N.K. is all nonfiction, all the time, we must take a day out to revel in the love that was shown for nonfiction across the board at the annual ALA awards on January 18th. I was thrilled, excited, and proud to see the stellar representation of nonfiction authors in nearly every category. And they are:

Newbery Honor: “Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice” by Phillip Hoose.

Printz Honor: “Charles and Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith” by Deborah Heiligman. Congratulations to my dear friend Deb, and fellow INKer!!

Caldecott Honor: “Red Sings from Treetops: A Year in Colors,” illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski, written by Joyce Sidman.

Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award: “Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal,” written by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, and illustrated by R. Gregory Christie.

Belpré Illustrator Honor: “Diego: Bigger Than Life,” illustrated by David Diaz, written by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand.

Schneider Family Book Award: “Django” written and illustrated by Bonnie Christensen. Another shout-out to a dear friend—Congratulations, Bonnie!!

This year, the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults was given to a nonfiction author—the incredible
Jim Murphy. Some of his books include: “An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793,” “Blizzard! The Storm That Changed America,” and “A Young Patriot: The American Revolution as Experienced by One Boy.”

The last two awards round out the list and are, of course, dedicated to nonfiction. The shiny brand new YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award also went to Deb Heiligman (GO DEB!) for “Charles and Emma,” and the Honor Books were Sally Walker’s astonishing “Written In Bone,” “Claudette Colvin,” Candace Fleming’s “The Great and Only Barnum: The Tremendous, Stupendous Life of Showman P.T. Barnum,” (another peep I am proud to call friend) and Tanya Lee Stone’s “Almost Astronauts” (Hey wait, that’s ME!).

And last, the Robert F. Sibert Medal, which differs from the new YALSA award in that Sibert is for younger readers and YALSA is for older readers. The Honor Books for Sibert are: “The Day-Glo Brothers: The True Story of Bob and Joe Switzer's Bright Ideas and Brand-New Colors,” written by Chris Barton, illustrated by Tony Persiani; “Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11,” written and illustrated by Brian Floca (Way to go, Brian!); and “Claudette Colvin” written by Phillip Hoose (Congrats again!).

I am honored and humbled beyond belief to have been awarded the Sibert Medal for “Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream,” and am proud to stand in the company of so many great authors I have long admired. Getting “The Call” was something I had heard tell of from author friends in past years and never imagined actually receiving.

There is something completely surreal about receiving a call out of the blue from a librarian who identifies herself as the committee chair of an award on the day before the ALA awards are announced. You are not quite sure you have heard right. You are not quite sure why the room is beginning to look a bit hazy around the edges. And you are definitely not aware that you are on speaker phone and that the rest of the committee is listening to your reaction to the stunning news that, indeed, you have been awarded the Sibert Medal. “Wait, the medal?” I managed to say, after repeated utterances of “Oh my goodness!” and “Thank you!” and “Oh my goodness!” My “Wait…the Medal?” was met with cheers and laughter in the background. This WAS real, and there were real live Sibert-committee-member-librarians on the other end of the phone!

Congratulations to all the recipients from this year’s ALA awards—but special shout-outs to ALL the amazing nonfiction writers and illustrators who have contributed such stellar work to the body of informational books for kids! And now…I get to make The Call to the “Mercury 13” ladies from Almost Astronauts and tell them the good news!


Unknown said...

Many congrats, Tanya! And may there be many future calls.

Unknown said...

I'n reading your book as we speak, Tanya, and loving every minute of it! It brings back the memories and the boiling blood I felt at the beginning of the Women's Movement in which I was active through a group called Columbia U. Women's Liberation. (I was an alum and a faculty wife at the time). The idea that women could do these things was foreign even to us women. It took a lot of consciousness raising to become believers. Your group of women deserve this spotlight as do you for telling their story.

Gretchen Woelfle said...

Great news for you and your great book!

Tasha said...

Thanks for sharing The Call with us. And may many more of your books be bedecked with medals.

Linda Zajac said...

Huge congrats to all the writers, illustrators, editors and designers that were part of the process.

Rosalyn Schanzer said...

Congratulations Tanya (and Deb too)--well deserved!! And how exciting that so many non-fiction books were honored this year. Methinks the judges are onto something.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Wonderful news for you! Congratulations. :-)

Susan Kuklin said...

Congratulations Tanya! And Deborah! And all nonfiction writers - winners all. May we continue and continue and continue ...

Jan Greenberg said...

Wonderful news! Congratulations, Tanya.Through your book, these women outshined them all!!!

Unknown said...

So proud of you Tanya. You have traveled so many roads so well. Congratulations!!