Proposal: A New Literary Award
Every year the ALSC Media Book Awards seem to take just a smidgen longer than the last. New awards crop up constantly, crowding the field, straining to make their presence heard. This year we’ll see the advent of the new Odyssey Award for best audio recording of a book.
Frankly, I have no problem with lots of awards. I think they’re neat. When you sit down and watch the Oscars, do they suddenly hit you BAM with the Best Picture? No, you slowly work your way up to that point. The same goes for literary awards. Is it our fault that there are gobs of talented people deserving of praise?
Which bring me to my proposal. This past week-end I gave a speech about books the fall between the gaps. The titles that mix text and image in such supremely magnificent ways that there is no easy way to categorize them. And of course, the books that are most consistently forgotten are graphic novels. When I first saw Shaun Tan’s The Arrival, I knew it didn’t have a hog’s chance at a barbecue of garnering any
Now you’ll hear people object and say that there are already too many awards out there already. I say, what’s one more? We just added the Odyssey Award, after all. And considering the fact that A) Graphic novels are not going away and B) They are a legitimate form of literature that spans genres, wins Pulitzers, and currently cannot win an American Library Association accredited award in its own field, I find this a shame. A shame and, in a few years, possibly an embarrasment.
The proposal: We call it The Walt Kelly Award. Art Spiegelman once suggested this, and I think it’s grand. We could put a picture of Pogo on the award itself, cause who doesn’t like Pogo? Failing that, I suggest we call it The Spiegelman (which sounds lofty and nice) and put an image from Maus on there. Or, if you want something a little more child-friendly, The Babymouse. Then you split it into a YA and a Children’s category apiece. If you want to get technical then you make The Babymouse (or maybe The Bone?) medal go to the younger works and The Spiegelman go to books for ages 12 and up. Badda bing: Instant awards. Maybe some Honors too for spice. It would be so easy to do.
So howzabout it ALSC? You can only ignore them for so long. Why not reward the best?
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About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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