I flew to Anaheim, my suitcase packed with dresses, knowing intellectually that it would be the end of my term on the 2012 Michael L. Printz Award Committee, but in completely emotional denial. We’d all be having book discussion meetings, right? We’d be arguing passionately for the titles we thought best embodied the award’s criteria! Yeah! Um, no.
Fortunately, I quickly got my head around the notion of this being our time to celebrate our wonderful winner, Where Things Come Back, by John Corey Whaley and our amazing four honor titles, Why We Broke Up, by Daniel Handler & Maira Kalman, The Returning, by Christine Hinwood, Jasper Jones, by Craig Silvey and The Scorpio Races, by Maggie Stiefvater. Oh, YEAH, that’s what all these dresses were for — the four Printz events I’d be attending over the course of the weekend!
The events include not only the wonderful Awards ceremony & reception, but also festivities organized by the publishers of the winning & honor books — usually meals (though as you’ll see, there was a very special High Tea mixed in there) where committee members can meet, chat with/gush over the authors, and receive signed copies of the winning & honor books. It’s a really generous thing the publishers do for the committee, and it’s something I’d been looking forward to since January.
Our first event was a High Tea held by Scholastic, publishers of Maggie Stiefvater’s The Scorpio Races and we were all kind of amazed by the quantity and quality of delicious sweets & savories (NOM), and deeply touched by Maggie’s gift to us of a framed print of a portrait of a horse who strongly resembles Corr, Sean Kendrick’s caipall uisce. Oh, did I mention? Since Maggie is a very skilled portrait artist, she created the portrait herself. (I will post a photo in the comments to this post tomorrow, as I’ve just realized I don’t already have one and the print in question is hanging in my sleeping daughter’s room.) Maggie is one of those super-enviable all-rounders, as they say in cricket — a musician, artist, pastry chef and oh yes! A very fine writer, as well. How we manage not to hate her for having all that talent, I’m not sure. It may be due to her abundant charm & modesty.
Later that evening, we attended a dinner held jointly with the brilliant & charming members of the William S. Morris YA Debut Award, who had mentally synced up with us by bestowing their award on Where Things Come Back, as well. Corey’s publisher, Simon & Schuster, organized the dinner, and it was a really lovely evening of conversation & delicious food, followed by Corey’s sweet & moving speech about how grateful & gobsmacked he was to be having this incredible year, going from living in his parents’ basement to traveling all over the country, speaking to teen readers & librarians following his amazing wins. Corey is just a little bit older than my youngest sister and it’s fair to say that many of us took a somewhat motherly attitude towards him. I’m blaming the dimples.
We also enjoyed a luncheon with Daniel Handler & Maira Kalman, Craig Silvey, and Christine Hinwood, courtesy of Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, Random House Children’s Books and Penguin Young Readers Group. I sat at the table with Craig Silvey, and while I know that conversation at the other tables was lively, even raucous, I am confident that ours was the best table, because the conversation turned, as it inevitably must when dining with Australians, to the seemingly endless ways in which the Australian landscape and its resident fauna can kill you. I’m pleased to break the news here, on Someday, that Mr. Craig Silvey is a bona fide expert on the subject of the dangers of Australian wildlife. We learned that the duck-billed platypus has venomous fangs (watch out, Phineas & Ferb! Don’t make Perry angry!), discussed the tragically contagious cancer which is worse-than-decimating the Tasmanian devil population, and the incredibly high rate of STD infections among koalas. We may also have canvassed the enduringly popular meme of dingoes and their insatiable appetite for human flesh.
Admit it, you’re seething with envy right now, and not just because we were served ice cream sundaes designed to look like lattes in solid chocolate cups and you were not:
Craig, Christine, Daniel & Maira all spoke briefly & graciously — Christine gave her first public speech, ever, anywhere, very much in the style of the Harper’s Index, Craig embraced his enduring bromance with our sole male committee member, Todd Krueger, and Daniel & Maira’s speech reminded me powerfully of Meryl Streep & Lily Tomlin presenting Robert Altman with his honorary Academy Award. And then it was time to receive and sigh over our signed books and slope off to our hotel rooms to rest & prepare for the weekend’s culminating event: the Printz Awards Ceremony & Reception!
Honestly, the speeches were a beautiful blur. All I remember is crying at points during three — Silvey, Stiefvater & Whaley — and thinking how grateful I was to have been able to take part in reading, discussing, arguing for and selecting these marvelous books. And, of course, thanks to Teri Lesesne, THIS:
Okay, one more photo, because I can’t resist, and you need to see the priceless expressions on Daniel & Maira’s faces:
Thanks so much to all my wonderful colleagues who served with me on this adventure: Chair Erin Helmrich, Administrative Assistant Gregory Lum, Jerene Battisti, Patty Campbell, Todd Krueger, Joy Millam, Beth Saxton, Drue Wagner-Mees, Gail Zachariah and our fantastic Booklist consultant, Ilene Cooper. It was a fantastic voyage. How about we do it all again in 10 years? I’m in, if you are.