Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Kids' Choice Awards, Part 2: Big Kids

Here's part 2 of the Children's Choice Award overview for my state. Part 1 is here.

Genevieve asked in the comments of the last post why all this year's Picture Book nominees had copyright dates of 2004 or 2005. The simple answer is that the nominees for each year's award are required to have copyright dates of two or three years earlier. There are similar rules for the chapter book awards below.

Basically, this is because books are nominated by teachers and librarians and kids, and they need to have had time to find an audience. Older books aren't eligible because theoretically they had their chance earlier, and (I think) to keep the award feeling fresh (I've often thought of conducting a school-wide "favorite dusty old book" award some year, for which only books published at least 10 years earlier would be eligible, but have never managed to put it together). Also, with the chapter book awards, it helps if at least some of the nominees are available in paperback, as many libraries (including mine) buy multiple copies of each.

All the awards below are given to chapter books or novels, with the occasional nonfiction title thrown in. Unlike the Picture Book award, these are designed for kids who can read the books themselves (though teachers are encouraged to read nominees aloud, too); anyone in the age range who reads two nominees can vote.

Sasquatch Awards, officially for any grade but most of the kids who participate are in grades 2-6. They read at least 2 of the chapter books on the list and vote for their favorite. Votes due in by April 1; haven't heard about next years' list yet. This award tends to skew younger than the better known Young Readers Choice Award, so I'm more comfortable promoting it to 2nd and 3rd graders who are strong readers. I like that this award includes shorter chapter books for kids who aren't necessarily strong readers but are sophisticated enough to enjoy a novel.

Evergreen Young Adult Book Award
, for grades 7-12. These are mostly hard-core YA: lots of Serious Issues and swearing and suchlike. This year, the nominees included Runaways, a graphic novel about teens who discover that their parents are supervillains, and Chanda's Secrets, in which a teenage girl in Africa discovers that the AIDS crisis has hit her family, as well as more innocuous titles like Airborn. I loved all three of these and would have had a hard time choosing among them were I a teen in grades 7-12. Though I think I might've gone with Airborn.

The Evergreen people like to make life complicated by setting the deadline for getting ballots in at March 15th, so our school's 7th and 8th graders voted last week. Based on their ballots, I'm predicting The Supernaturalist (which I never did get around to reading) will win.

And last, but far from least, there's the venerable Young Reader's Choice Award, the oldest children's choice book award in the country.

Unlike the other awards, the YRCA is conducted all over the Pacific Northwest: Washington, Oregon, Montana, British Columbia, Alberta, Idaho, and Alaska. This makes it the only international readers' choice award that I know of, and explains the frequent and welcome presence of Canadian nominees on the lists. (The wartime spy story Camp X, for one, has had a continuing fan base in my library ever since it was up for the YRCA a few years ago.)

The YRCA comes in three flavors: Junior (grades 4-6), Intermediate (7th-9th grade) and Senior (grades 10-12). The Intermediate nominees tend to come in a bit younger than the Evergreen Award books, and the Senior a bit older, though there's lots of overlap. Younger kids who read books in the older categories can vote for those awards (at my school it's not unusual for 6th graders to have read more of the Intermediate nominees than the Junior ones), but older kids can't vote younger.

And if that isn't confusing enough, because all these awards are organized by different organizations, it's not uncommon for the same book to be nominated on a couple of different lists (Airborn and The Supernaturalist, for example, are up for YRCA as well as Evergreen this year). The resulting overlaps are sometimes baffling (like last year when The City of Ember was nominated for Sasquatch (grades 2ish-6ish) and also for the Intermediate YRCA (grades 7-9, supposedly), though it's nice for librarians with a limited budget who want to conduct lots of awards.

Is your head spinning yet? Mine is. Now I remember why I'm totally beat every year by Spring Break.

But there's no time to relax; the YRCA has just announced their 2008 nominees. Most of them are new to me, and I have to start reading.

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