CLA Book of the year!
So my book and I had a good day yesterday! We're both in Ottawa, attending the the Canadian Library Association national conference -- specifically smoozing at the lunch where the CLA's Book of the Year winners are honoured. The CLA gives three book of the year awards, one for children's books (illustration) one for children's books (text) and this one, for Young Adult books.
I was thrilled to see The Scorpion Rules alongside Kenneth Oppel's The Nest. Have I told you guys about The Nest? Before this award I re-read it -- a third read, and yet I STILL ended up finishing it while standing in the middle of the hallway, because I was carrying it from room to room reading with my nose in it, and there's a point toward the end where it just stops you in your tracks. It is smart and scary and so so human. You really need to read it. I also got to meet Sydney Smith, who is the illustrator the wordless picture book with a story by JonArno Lawson. It was such a treat to get to walk alongside the illustrator alongside his illustrated little girl a red coat, through the streets of Toronto. I really had a wonderful time.
And I love this award. A librarian's award! When I was a kid -- this will surprise no one who knows me -- I was a little bit strange, I lived in Urbandale Iowa. It's about what you're picturing. Nice enough, but was perhaps a bit too small to have room for the strange kids, and the queer kids, and the disabled kids, and the brown kids. It could be a little narrow.
But Urbandale has a great public library. Particularly in the summer, we visited the library every week. We could check out seven books, and I did, every week. I read the entire kids side of the library. And then the librarian, whose name was Ms. Anne, took me to the adult side of the library, and help me find books. This was in the 1970s and 80s, so there was no such thing as Young Adult – I needed Ms. Anne’s help, and she helped me.
I found my books. When I was a teenager, I read my books – Sherlock Holmes, notably, and Ray Bradbury and Anne McAffery, and Rosemary Sutcliffe. I read them over and over again. Those books saved me.
Now that I write for teenagers, my dearest ambition is to return the favor – to write a book that’s “that book” for a young reader. In some small way I want to save someone. I would not have found my books without libraries, without librarians, without Ms. Anne. And my readers won't find my books without Ms. Anne's of their own. (That's true of this book particularly: PSA, guys, it's queer. I know it doesn't show, because, well, you guys know how this works. But please, librarians, get it to the queer nerd girls particularly.)
So it was wonderful to get a chance to thank the librarians in person for everything they've done for me, and for my books. What I told them, and what I meant sincerely: there is no award I'd rather win than one given by librarians.
PS, guys, I looked awesome, and the folks at Simon & Schuster were kind enough to send me pictures of me looking awesome. Behold!