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The Alex Awards, 2012
YALSA’s 2012 Alex Awards were announced yesterday morning at the ALA Media Awards. The winners are (with links to the AB4T review of each title):
- Big Girl Small, by Rachel DeWoskin
- In Zanesville, by Jo Ann Beard
- The Lover’s Dictionary, by David Levithan
- The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern
- Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline
- Robopocalypse: A Novel, by Daniel H. Wilson
- Salvage the Bones, by Jesmyn Ward
- The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt: A Novel in Pictures, by Caroline Preston
- The Talk-Funny Girl, by Roland Merullo
First, a huge congratulations to the Alex Awards committee members on their hard work, and on a wonderful mix of titles.
To my mind, three titles were obvious choices — The Night Circus, Ready Player One, and Robopocalypse. A few of the other titles were surprises to me, but I like to think of that as a reflection of the vast number of titles published for adults each year. And let’s face it — teen appeal is subjective. Teens and their tastes and interests are as varied as those of adults. The fact that a few of these titles were not on our radar for best of the year shows just how diverse the possibilities are. Frankly, I was relieved that we had reviewed all ten titles!
The Alex committee also published their list of nominated titles yesterday, which includes 2 of the 3 titles I would have bled on the table for this year. The two included among the nominations were Among Others by Jo Walton and Once Upon a River by Bonnie Jo Campbell. I think I have expressed my love and enthusiasm for these two books often enough here, so I will leave it at that. Please take a look at the original reviews for more. The third is Little Princes by Conor Grennan, which is a wonderfully accessible, life and love-filled nonfiction title which I had been considering a natural choice. I also miss When She Woke by Hillary Jordan, which does not appear on the nomination list.
The list of winners introduces a list of wonderful books to teens and the librarians serving them. Publishers know that a nod from the Alex committee increases sales of a book, at times sending them to additional printings. The Talk-Funny Girl, In Zanesville and Big Girl Small are most likely to profit from this bump because I doubt that teen librarians were as aware of these books as they were of the others.
What about teen appeal? The Lover’s Dictionary is very, very popular in my library. National Book Award winner Salvage the Bones has a small but intense following — each reader has passed the book to a friend. And The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt does very well on the display table; it is often read or browsed by students during a free period, if rarely checked out. Fans of Robopocalypse have a new book to look forward to — Amped is coming in June.
Let’s take a look at the overlaps among the three best of the year lists that address adult books for young adult readers: Best Adult Books 4 Teens 2011, Booklist Editors’ Choice Best Adult Books for Young Adults and the Alex Awards:
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Big Girl Small by Rachel DeWoskin
Girls Like Us by Rachel Lloyd
Jamrach’s Menagerie by Carol Birch
The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan
Once Upon a River by Bonnie Jo Campbell
Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson
Swamplandia! by Karen Russell
When She Woke by Hillary Jordan
I look forward to reading your comments on the Alex selections!
Filed under: Best of 2011
About Angela Carstensen
Angela Carstensen is Head Librarian and an Upper School Librarian at Convent of the Sacred Heart in New York City. Angela served on the Alex Awards committee for four years, chairing the 2008 committee, and chaired the first YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adult committee in 2009. Recently, she edited Outstanding Books for the College Bound: Titles and Programs for a New Generation (ALA Editions, 2011). Contact her via Twitter @AngeReads.
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