Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Do You Care?

In catching up with my Internet reading as I enjoy a day off from work, I read School Library Journal's Heavy Medal blog post on predicting the ALA winners.

And the Schneider Family Book Awards are mentioned! (I have an entire post on the winners, don't worry.). Usually, these ones are overlooked. Jonathan Hunt says: "SCHNEIDER FAMILY.
Does anybody care about this one? Okay, maybe some of you do. I'm going to guess MARCELO for the teen category, ODD AND THE FROST GIANTS for the middle grade category, and I'm completely clueless about the picture book category. Suggestions
?" It's not the only "does anybody care" award; the Carnegie Award got a similar comment.

Sigh. For those of you who are new to the blog, and me, I'm on the Schneider Family Book Award Committee; I work for a regional library for the National Library Services for the Blind & Physically Handicapped; and the Schneider Family Book Award is for "The Schneider Family Book Awards honor an author or illustrator for a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences." I urge you to read the Manual, which explains the background of this Award and why, indeed, it matters how the disability experience appears in books and why an award for this does matter.

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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy


LaurieA-B said...

Yes, it matters--and, as well, the books chosen every year are really good books!

I never paid much attention to the Batchelder Award before, which I now realize was such a mistake (that I have now rectified) because the Batchelder is another award that people don't always notice, but it highlights some fabulous books each year. It's especially great for building a global/world fiction collection (it also includes nonfiction). I recently read this year's Batchelder winner, A Faraway Island, and was startled to see it was first published in 1996. We're fortunate to get it now.

MotherReader said...

Complete fail on the wording of the SLJ blog, and disrespectful. I was happy with the winners of YA and MG - very happy. I don't know the PB, but I'll be sure to look it up. Great job.

tanita✿davis said...

When I learned about all the awards, I DID care, and I strive to write books which fill the needs and highlight the issues those awards do. This is not to say that I write in anticipation of the award (not EVEN: yesterday was still a huge surprise), but my thought is, if they HAVE an award for a particular thing, it's because people aren't doing it, aren't celebrating or highlighting whatever issue, and it needs to be.

Of COURSE somebody cares. The tactless cretin.

Anamaria (bookstogether) said...

I was also surprised by Hunt's dismissive comments re: the Schneider (and the Carnegie, for that matter). There are a lot of people who care, starting with the everyone involved in making the books (and movies) under consideration and ending with the committee members for whom it is the work of a year to decide on the winners. Not to mention all of us.
And yes, the Batchelder! Don't miss Eidi, an Honor book this year (also first published, in Danish, in the 90s).

tanita✿davis said...

OKay, maybe not cretin. I take it back.

But that tossed off comment was in poor taste.

Paige Y. said...

I think it's yet again a lesson that we have to be careful with what we say, especially when it's on a blog that has a good chance of being read by thousands of people. He should know better.

Anonymous said...

1. Liz, I'm pleased to see that you've started a discussion on this topic, and depending on how it evolves here, I may pick up the discussion over at Heavy Medal.

2. I'd like to point out that aside from Elizabeth Bluemle at PW's Shelftalker, I'm not aware of any other blogger that discussed the entire family of ALA Youth Media Awards preceding the announcements. So I cared. I cared enough to blog about it.

3. Pam, several years ago you made the following statement: "I’m going to mention the Schneider Award for one reason and one reason only: The winner of the middle school category is Tracie Vaughn Zimmer for Reaching for Sun." While you communicate your appreciation for this title, I think you kind of imply that if another worthy book had been selected, the award wouldn't have been worth mentioning. Hence, my question. I just wonder if we value the Schneider more as a safety net, for catching worthy books like MARCELO and others that slip past other committees, than for what it aims to do. And I think what it aims to do is somewhat fuzzy, even after reading the manual that Liz mentioned, but more on that later . . .

Jonathan Hunt

Liz B said...

Hey, all. I'm not sure if it's so much disrespectful as "does anyone even know about this? does it matter to anyone? can it matter if people don't know?" (my reading of it, anyway) As Tanita says, once you know, find out, realize background, different story than just sitting back thinking "what, another award?!?"

Jonathan, I am happy that you not only blogged about it but got it right. I believe Betsy blogged, but didn't break it into the age groups but talked winner/honors, which isn't the set up. Is there a better way to dialog on this than via comments/ blog posts? The aim, as I see it, is to have the person with a disability be portrayed as whole; not to be pitied; not to be a martyr/super character; and not to have to "overcome" something to be "normal." etc.

As a committee member for Schneider, the "safety net" idea never occured to me. Rather, it was what bests fits the policies as described, as well as determining what books and characters to consider based on the policies.

That said, for any award other than the "big" ones, do readers view the wins as a "safety" or an "at least it got that"?

Anonymous said...

Liz, yes, I do recall that Betsy mentioned the Schneider and some of the lesser known awards (but not all of them--Arbuthnot, Edwards, etc.)

I don't think any committee member of any award thinks of their award a safety net, but I think it can serve that function for outsiders.

As you know, many people had high Printz hopes for MARCELO, and thus when it got passed over, it was nice to see that MARCELO got something. But what if the teen award had gone to THE BROTHERS STORY? Or something else that was lesser known?

So, I think people like the Schneider when it validates books they have read. Does the award motivate people to seek out and read the winners they have not read? I'm very curious about the lives of these books after the announcement, i.e. how they get matched up with readers because of this award. Do gatekeepers recommend them? Are there book displays in libraries? I'm just curious . . .

Jonathan Hunt

Liz B said...

How are the books used is a good question. Its a relatively new award & so promotion and awareness is needed.

And there is another question -- who is the promotion to? If its the kids who are represented in these books, NLS makes sure to make its own version of these books. If its the classmates, then its about librarians, teachers, etc. And if its about raising awareness among publishers (how to, and how not to, portray people with disabilities) that is a bit harder to judge, except to study how / when children are portrayed in books in the past versus now versus in the future.

Zoe @ Playing by the book said...

Hi Liz,

Don't know if you and your other readers know this UK site:

"In The Picture aims to promote the inclusion of disabled children in early years' picture books"

I only came across it recently but I've already learnt a lot from it.

Bibliovore said...

For myself, I've been paying attention to the Schneider family awards of late, because there seem to be a lot of autism books and that's something that's always fascinated me, for whatever reason.

As to whether anybody cares, it's all relative. A lot of people outside the book world go, "Newb-who? Calde-wha?"

But then again, a lot of libraries order straight from the lists. I cheered at more than one winner because I knew that now my library would finally purchase it. Nothing says caring like $$$$ for authors.

Marge Loch-Wouters said...

Just to throw this into the mix, Susan K did a great piece on PBS Kids Booklights blog on the range of awards prior to the announcements. It's worth a look.

Ama said...

*sigh* I'm a bit late to the game on this topic, since I'm still catching up on work and blogs since being in Boston.

But...I hear you. I was on the 2010 Carnegie committee. I quickly realized that when informing anyone - whether part of libraryland or not - of my ALA committee involvements, I had to describe what the Carnegie committee's mission is. It is frustrating that there is an overwhelming feeling of "Does anyone even know or care?" about several of the awards committees. Yes, it is great that there are a few talking about them, but how about starting that conversation with "Have you heard about these committees and their awesome charges?" instead of a “Does anybody care about this award?”...especially if the writer has been on one of those committees!