Tag Archives: YMAs

2018 Morris Picks

The Hate U Give.​As a teen librarian and YA lit fan, the Youth Media Awards (YMAs), announced in early January, are kind of like my Oscars/Emmy’s/Grammy’s/[insert fancy awards show here]. I’ve prided myself on picking the winner of the William C. Morris YA Debut Award the last two years (The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner in 2017, and Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli in 2016). I feel like the 2018 winner is a given — if Angie Thomas’s powerful novel The Hate U Give doesn’t win the Morris, I’ll be more shocked than the majority of liberal voters were last November 9. But I’d like to highlight some other 2017 debuts I think could be finalists for this award.

When Dimple Met Rishi.When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon. I’ve gushed about this book here and on Twitter before, but it really is everything I want in a romance. A driven female lead with an interest in STEM, believable characters and conflicts, and insights into a culture that isn’t my own. Here’s the summary from Amazon:

The rom-com that everyone’s talking about! Eleanor & Park meets Bollywood in this hilarious and heartfelt novel about two Indian-American teens whose parents conspire to arrange their marriage.

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers … right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him — wherein he’ll have to woo her — he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

Caraval.Caraval by Stephanie Garber. I love the way Garber immerses readers in her settings, and the plot of this one kept me turning pages long after I should have gone to bed. Here’s the summary from Amazon:

Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.

But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.

Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval … beware of getting swept too far away.

Allegedly.Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson. The voice is great, and this story blew my mind. Months later, I was still thinking about it and discussing the ending with colleagues. I’m less certain an official awards committee will pick it up, but I think it deserves recognition. Here’s the summary from Amazon:

Orange Is the New Black meets Walter Dean Myer’s Monster in this gritty, twisty, and haunting debut by Tiffany D. Jackson about a girl convicted of murder seeking the truth while surviving life in a group home.

Mary B. Addison killed a baby.

Allegedly. She didn’t say much in that first interview with detectives, and the media filled in the only blanks that mattered: a white baby had died while under the care of a churchgoing black woman and her nine-year-old daughter. The public convicted Mary and the jury made it official. But did she do it?

There wasn’t a point to setting the record straight before, but now she’s got Ted — and their unborn child — to think about. When the state threatens to take her baby, Mary’s fate now lies in the hands of the one person she distrusts the most: her Momma. No one knows the real Momma. But does anyone know the real Mary?

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican DaughterI Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez. Though I haven’t read this book yet (it doesn’t come out until October 17), it was long listed for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, and based on reviews and excerpts I’ve read, I have high hopes for it. Here’s the summary from Amazon:

Perfect Mexican daughters do not go away to college. And they do not move out of their parents’ house after high school graduation. Perfect Mexican daughters never abandon their family.

But Julia is not your perfect Mexican daughter. That was Olga’s role.

Then a tragic accident on the busiest street in Chicago leaves Olga dead and Julia left behind to reassemble the shattered pieces of her family. And no one seems to acknowledge that Julia is broken, too. Instead, her mother seems to channel her grief into pointing out every possible way Julia has failed.

But it’s not long before Julia discovers that Olga might not have been as perfect as everyone thought. With the help of her best friend Lorena, and her first kiss, first love, first everything boyfriend Connor, Julia is determined to find out. Was Olga really what she seemed? Or was there more to her sister’s story? And either way, how can Julia even attempt to live up to a seemingly impossible ideal?

There are many other excellent YA debuts from this year, but if I had to choose just five that I think would be Morris finalists, I’d go with these. Honorable mentions to Dear Martin by Nic Stone (I have high hopes for this book, but it doesn’t come out until October 17, and I’m not sure the committee will choose two books that come out that late in the year) and American Street by Ibi Zoboi.

What are some of your favorite debuts from this year?

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Youth Media Awards 2016

yma-logo-white-467In my head, I was going to post a poignant reflection on the Youth Media Awards​, announced yesterday morning. But hours later, I’m still struggling to come up with something. Do I celebrate one of my favorite books winning the Morris Award? Brag that back in June, when I first read Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, I said it should get the Morris? Do I lament that despite all the attention it received before yesterday, I kept pushing Laura Ruby’s Bone Gap down on my to-read list? (That and Out of Darkness are up next now, because the Printz is the award I would most want to win as a writer, and I like to study the masters.) Do I share the story about the one time I met Margaret E. Edwards Award winner David Levithan and could not form a coherent sentence? (Normally I’m more composed. I blame high blood sugar — it was Pi Day. And of course as soon as I walked away I thought of all the questions I wanted to ask him about Two Boys Kissing.)

I don’t have any earth-shattering thoughts or conclusions this year. All I have is a lineup of new reads and listens, a host of authors, illustrators, and voice artists to congratulate, and a slight buzz from watching the webcast of a room full of youth librarians celebrating great stories.

If you want to learn more about the YMAs, or see a list of this year’s winners, check out the press release.

Youth Media Awards 2015

Some people get excited about the Oscars, or the Grammys, or the Tonys. Sports fans may look forward to the Super Bowl, the World Cup, or March Madness. For me, it’s all about the book awards, and my favorites are the YMAs.

For me, a few of the highlights from this year’s Youth Media Awards include: a graphic novel winning a Printz Honor, one of my favorite books winning the Printz Award, and a book on my to-read list that won both a Printz Honor and a Morris Honor. (Can you tell I’m a little obsessed with the Printz Award?) For those unfamiliar with these prizes, the Michael L. Printz Award “honors the best book written for teens, based entirely on its literary merit,” and the William C. Morris YA Debut Award “honors a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens and celebrating impressive new voices in young adult literature.” As a YA reader and writer, I pay close attention to these winners for great prose and authors to look out for in the future. If I’m ever unsure what to read next (Ha!), I look to the YMA winners.

This One Summer. I’ll admit, I haven’t read Printz Honor winner This One Summer yet, but I’m thrilled that the honor went to a graphic novel. While I’m not a big reader of graphic novels, I think they too often get a bad rap as being considered “lesser” works. I find this incredibly frustrating, because there are so many stories that can be told so much better with pictures, and I’ve read graphic novels that I think have incredible literary and artistic merit. A recent (and admittedly not the best) example from my own reading is Shawn David Hutchinson’s The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley. Yes, this is a novel, but there are pages of the Patient F comic Andrew draws throughout the book, and those comics do a lot to enhance the story of both Patient F and Andrew Brawley. The images are powerful, and do so much more for the story than a prose description of them would. When people — especially parents of reluctant readers who enjoy graphic novels — look down on the format, they’re doing a disservice to the artists, authors, and readers of these works. So when a graphic novel wins a Printz Honor, even though it’s not my format of choice, I celebrate.

I'll Give You the Sun. The second happy moment for me was seeing Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You the Sun win the Printz Award. For me, this was one of those books that I picked up almost on a whim. I’d heard good things about it, but it wasn’t at the top of my to-read list. But the audiobook was checked in when I needed a new one, so I picked it up. And I was completely blown away. The prose is absolutely gorgeous, and the characters have some of the most authentic, well-developed voices I’ve ever read. And the plotting, wow. Seriously, I couldn’t wait to get in my car and listed to more of this book just to spend a few more minutes in Noah’s head. The way he views the world is fascinating. When one of my favorite books wins my favorite award, it makes my whole week.

The Carnival at Bray. Finally, the yesterday’s YMAs ensured that an author who was already on my radar jumped up my to-read list. I’ve been planning to read Jessie Ann Foley’s The Carnival at Bray because it was nominated for a Morris Award, and because our new teen librarian mentioned possibly inviting her to speak here next year. Now that The Carnival at Bray won a Printz Honor, this book is going from the “maybe I’ll read this someday” section of my to-read list to “definitely check this out.” Plus, it’s set in Ireland, and I don’t read nearly enough books set in Ireland.

So, those are my highlights from the YMAs. What are your thoughts on the winners? Any that surprised you? Any books you wish had won that didn’t? Please share in the comments!

For a full list of the Youth Media Award winners, check out YALSA’s book blog, The Hub.