One of the highlights of ALA was the Edwards Luncheon with Susan Cooper.
An explanation of the Edwards Award, past winners, and information on Margaret A. Edwards (for whom the award is named) is at Wikipedia. (Yes, Wikipedia. I don’t have to login there or fill out a form.) Per the policies at the YALSA website, “the award is given annually to an author whose book or books, over a period of time, have been accepted by young adults as an authentic voice that continues to illuminate their experiences and emotions, giving insight into their lives.” The nominated author has to be alive and be willing to attend the luncheon in his/her honor. The book the award is based on has to be at least five years old and has to still be in print.
Who can name the other award named for Margaret A. Edwards?
This year, Susan Cooper was honored by the Edwards Award for her The Dark is Riding sequence.
From my review of those books, back in 2005: ““Five children (Simon; Jane; Barney; Will; Bran) battle “the Dark.” The sixth person mentioned is Merriman Lyon, great-uncle to Simon, Jane and Barney. Will is an “Old One,” a group of people born to keep the Dark at bay. But, as with Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, the fight is not only for those who are born with special powers and abilities; it is also for those who are human. This is fantasy set in the real world; the fantasy elements come from extensive use and reference to Welsh, Cornish and other Celtic mythology and Arthurian legend. While knowledge of the myth and legend adds to a reading of TDIR, it is not necessary; as a matter of fact, my introduction to elements of both is from this series. So if you like adventure; mythical retelling; danger; history; and friendship, this is a series for you. . . . The risks are real. The dangers are real. This isn’t a phony adventure. And while some are born to the fight, like Will, others — like the Drew children — can join in the fight, also. Choice is important, whether one is or is not mortal, is or is not an Old One. While there is prophecy, there is still choice.”
I read those books for the first time at the perfect age; I was about ten or eleven, the same age as the children in the books. I also read them out of order. Reading in order is, I think, more of my own adult preference for books and (at least according to my own childhood experience) and not a requirement to enjoy either a book or a series. In many ways, it set a standard for what I want in series books: existing mythology, a cast of characters, shifting point of view, a deep history; world-building; complex characters and tough decisions. (For the record, despite my love of the series, I’ve never been a fan of the ending!)
Anyway, it was on my “must” list to attend the luncheon and it was fabulous! If you want to hear Cooper’s speech, it’s at the SLJ article on the award and luncheon.
I took a few photos, but the only one that came out was the picture of the dessert, above!
School Library Journal sponsors the Edwards Award. My good friend Sophie Brookover (from Someday My Printz Will Come) was also at the lunch and we got our picture snapped (photo from School Library Journal). I’m always relying on the photographs of others!