Nerd Award Season: Lesbian Authors Honored by American Library Association

More About Stonewall

But hey, speaking of the gay one. The honor books for the Stonewall Award included the graphic novel by Raina Telgemeier, Drama, as well as a novel with quite the kooky title that I’d never heard of before: Sparks: The Epic, Completely True Blue, (Almost) Holy Quest of Debbie, by S.J. Adams, along with two others. Interestingly, with the exception of Drama, none of the three other titles were included in the Rainbow List’s Top 10.

And can I make a tiny, itsy, bitsy complaint about the Stonewall Award that may be unfounded?

I say it may be unfounded because, while the Stonewall Awards for Literature have been around for a long time (it appears the full list of this year’s winners for it, including adult literature, won’t be announced for a week or so), the inclusion of an award for youth has only been added in the last few years. So there’s not a huge history to go on. And I do give whoever’s been on the committees major props for calling attention to some great trans books; two of the only four winners they’ve ever awarded have been related to trans issues. But past that, and including all the honor books—it just seems rather gay dude heavy. And while I’m sure Aristotle must be amazing for all the awards it’s received, I must say that this was a truly, truly amazing year for lesbian literature, and I am positively dumbfounded that The Miseducation of Cameron Post and Ask the Passengers were not at least given an honor.

Jacqueline Woodson Continues to be Awesome

Jacqueline Woodson, openly out (she and her partner have two adorable kids!) African-American writer extraordinaire, is no stranger to these awards; along with the aforementioned Margaret Edwards Award, she’s won THREE Newbery honors in the past, along with a Coretta Scott King Award for excellence in African-American work for youth. This year she added to her cache a Coretta Scott King honor for her picture book Each Kindness, which teaches young people to not be assholes to people who are poorer than them. Keep on fighting the good fights, Jacqueline Woodson.

Disappointments, With Some More Gems

The biggest letdown for most of us is probably the fact that Emily Danforth’s Miseducation of Cameron Post didn’t win the Morris Award for a debut youth author, although being counted as one of the five finalists is still a great accomplishment. And if it’s any consolation, the book that did win, Rachel Hartman’s Seraphina, is a completely rad fantasy with a strong female lead, which takes a twist on dragons that I’d never quite seen before. I highly recommend it.

Many people were also surprised that John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars didn’t win the Printz or even an honor (it won for best audiobook? Yay?), being as it was wildly popular, landing in Time magazine’s Number One spot for Best Fiction Overall in 2012. Certainly, it succeeded at winning everyone’s Books That Made Me Cry Hysterically And Then Feel Like a Freak Award, or at least, for everyone that I’ve talked to who’s read it. After thinking about this for a bit, though, John Green has just had one of the most amazing years of anyone ever, regardless. He just graced the stage of a sold-out Carnegie Hall show with Neil Gaiman and Kimya Dawson—and Neil Gaiman and Kimya Dawson weren’t the main event; he was! He’s okay.

It does suck when stories we love don’t win things. It sucks a lot, and we know that it shouldn’t feel so personal, but it still does, because the things that we love are personal. But the Printz has always succeeded at calling out the weird stories from left field that no one expects, and there’s something so lovely about that, really. And the fact that many books people had never heard of got awards today, and will now be read by thousands, is just pretty swell, and the reason I love this genre.

One of the other Printz honor winners which should also be mentioned is Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, which I have not yet read but which almost every account reports to be abso-freaking-lutely fantastic, and which features a strong female friendship as the central relationship, along with other fascinating things like espionage and a fresh take on World War II.

And for one last final category mention before I collapse of book award excitement exhaustion (what, is this not an affliction that affects everyone?), the Alex Awards are an interesting list of books published for and marketed to adults which librarians believe to also be appealing to youth. While I haven’t read any of the 10 books selected because I suck at being an adult, one that I’m particularly glad is on there anyway is Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt, which was also included in the Over the Rainbow Top 10 List. It deals with a young girl in the 80s and her grief when her beloved uncle dies of AIDS, at a time when people are still too frightened to really talk about it. It’s entering the top of my already ridiculous “to read” list, for sure.

Read the full list of winners for yourself here. Next up? Looking forward to the rest of the Stonewall announcements in early February, and then, of course, the Lambda Literary Awards sometime this summer. Are there any books coming out in 2013 that you’re already looking forward to?

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