Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Lynda Mullaly Hunt and Me

So in the past few days I've amassed some ALA stories. (That's American Library Association, for you Muggles.)

Sunday morning I went to church, like always. The weather was dreadful, heading for worse, with cold rain which is the hardest weather on horses. As soon as we got home from church, I changed into barn clothes, and, while my daughter was changing, so that we could go get our horses under shelter, I went into my office to check the weather radar. On my way through the kitchen I grabbed my cell phone so I could plug it into the charger in my office.

Now please note: as you might imagine, I was completely aware of all the awards ALA was going to be handing out Monday morning. I was pretty sure that someone would call me first if I won something, which turned out to be 2/3rds correct, but I did think any calls would come through my home phone number. Not that I'd spent a whole lot of time considering the logistics of calls from award committees--I just want you to understand that when I was walking into my office late Sunday morning and my phone went off in my hand, I didn't think it was any big deal.

Then I saw the caller ID: a number from Boston, MA. Boston, where the ALA Midwinter meeting was. (For the record, I'm in east Tennessee..) I laughed, briefly thinking that it was cruel for the universe to send me automated calls about credit cards, or whatever sort of dreck this was, from the very city hosting ALA.

"This is Kim," I said.

"This is the Chair of the Schneider Award Committee," the person on the other end replied. (She said her name. I never caught it.)

I said, "Oh, my."

On the other end of the phone a room erupted in laughter. Clearly I was on a speaker to the whole committee. The Chair explained that for the first time in the history of the Schneider Award, they'd been unable to chose between two books, and had therefore declared both winners. The War That Saved My Life was one.

"Who's the other?" I immediately asked, but they told me I'd have to watch Monday's press conference to find out. They advised me that the Schneider award would be announced very early in the lineup. I told them I'd get up for it.

I was 99% sure that I knew who the other award-winner was. The Schneider Family Award is given for disability representation in three age groups: young child, middle grades, and YA. I'd thought all along that I had a chance at the Schneider, but I also thought Lynda Mullaly Hunt had a strong chance, for her lovely nuanced book about a dyslexic girl, Fish In A Tree.

Now the Real Committees can do what they like, at any time, and while I follow children's literature closely (hello--it's my job) I don't read or even hear about every book. So I thought my co-winner was Lyn Hunt, but I didn't know it. I was itching to find out. At the same time, I'd promised the Chair that I would only tell my immediate family and my editor before the press conference on Monday.

So I got on Twitter and sent Lyn a personal message. No words, just an emoji of a smiley face blowing her a kiss. I figured she'd either know exactly what I meant, or she'd think I was nuts, but since we'd never met there would really be no harm done.

Five minutes later she tweeted me an emoji of a smiley face with hearts for eyes. After that we switched to words.

Hooray for Lyn! Hooray for Fish In A Tree! Go read it, if you haven't already. I like it very much.