Monday, July 11, 2016

ALA, Post 5: Matt & Vicki & Pam & me.

We will always be the Newbery class of 2016: Matt & Vicki & Pam & me. I'd never met any of them before this year's ALA, and even though I got to speak with them and hang out with them a bit, it was nearly always at official functions. I would have loved to have snuck off for some private time with them, loved to have sat down and really gotten to know them, but that'll have to wait for a time when we don't have green room receptions and offical booksignings and, in the case of Matt and Vicki, toddlers.

Still. We're a team now. At a dinner on Saturday night Vicki said that winning a Newbery Honor gave her, gave us, a platform: that now what we wrote and said would be looked at more closely. We are now granted the gift of greater attention, so it's up to us to create things that deserve that attention.

Matt's wonderful Newbery speech ran along similar lines. He's half-Mexican, half-white; he asked why we see schools of brown kids reading The Catcher in the Rye but never see schools full of white kids reading Yaqui Delgado Wants To Kick Your Ass. He recalled being told at a school that while the librarian liked his books, the school didn't have "that kind" of student there.

Vicki wrote about strong girls navigating middle school friendships and roller derby. Pam wrote about music and magic. I wrote about war and family and healing. All of us wrote about differences and unity, something the world of children's books needs more now than ever.

Matt wrote in the copy of Last Stop that he signed for me: "To a fellow witness."

You bet. I can't wait to see what I write now. What we all write from here.