Monday, January 28, 2019

Some of My Friends Got Phone Calls This Morning!

Phew, I just finished watching the web broadcast of the ALA Youth Media Awards. I didn't have a book published this year, which took away any stress about stickers and made watching a pleasure. Plus I'm so pleased for the winners. Some I haven't read yet--I'll be making a bookstore order as soon as I finish this post--and some are books I simply loved.

A Stonewall Award for Julian Is a Mermaid, one of my favorite picture books ever.

A Coretta Scott King author honor for Lesa Cline-Ransome, for Finding Langston, which I was privileged to review for the New York Times, and wholeheartedly loved.

A Printz Honor for Damsel, which was my personal favorite of all the YA I read last year, because it is so everloving fierce, the antidote to every princess fairy tale--and written by Elana K. Arnold, a friend!

A Legacy award for Walter Dean Myers--I only wish he were alive to receive it in person.

Such lovely Caldecott Honors, and then another win for Sophie Blackall, who also won 3 years ago and has been a friend since the night of the banquet.

The Newbery itself for Meg Medina. I haven't read Merci Suarez yet but I've loved everything Meg has ever written.

Newbery Honors for the Book of Boy, which I don't know but which has been recommended by several friends, and The Night Diary, by Veera Hiranandani, which I have loved since forever. It's Veera's debut, and it's amazing.

I'll tell the story, which I may have told before. Namrata Tripathi, an editor for Dial who now has her own imprint, Kokila, and who I've known and worked with and very much liked for a long time, asked me, just as I was heading out on a two-week book tour, if I'd consider blurbing this debut novel she was working on. From just about anyone else in the world, I would have said I didn't have the spoons to even consider it. I was busy; I was stressed. But it was Nami who asked, so I said maybe, and then Nami sent it to me electronically. I don't like reading books electronically, especially galleys, so I thought, well, maybe can certainly turn into no, and didn't worry about it.

But then I was in the middle of this tour, and I was on a plane seated in the bulkhead, where you can't have any bags by your feet--everything had to be in the overhead bins for takeoff. We were delayed on the ground, and I was sulking, tired, grouchy. All I had was my phone. I took it out and started reading the story Nami'd sent, because I don't have Kindle on my phone so it was actually my only option, and I was even more grouchy because I really hate reading on my phone's tiny screen.

I put my head against the side of the airplane, shielding the screen from the sun, and mentally longed for the plane to take off so I could get my real book down from the overhead bin. Meanwhile I begrudgingly started The Night Diary.

The next thing I knew was the bump of the plane touching down. We'd not only taken off, we'd flown two hours and landed. And now I was even grumpier, because I had to get off the plane, and I hadn't finished the story yet. I tend to get enmeshed in books but rarely do I get so entirely absorbed.

Three years ago--three years and 17 days, it was the 11th of January--I got a phone call on the morning of ALA Youth Media Day. It was fantastic. Today I woke up wondering whose phone was ringing with good news.

Congratulations to everyone. I hear Elana's buying the falafel. 

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