‘Net News: 20th August 2012

It has been a jam packed week of developments, insights and congratulations so let’s get this party started.

1.  Book Week launches

Across the country students will be dressing as their favourite literary characters and celebrating this year’s theme…Champions Read.  On Friday the Children’s Book Council of Australia announced their selections for the best books of last year of which you can read in detail here.  A congratulations to all those that were announced winners and honour books with a special bravo to Scot Gardner with his title, The Dead I Know.

2.  Do females dominate YA?

This discussion erupted when Meghan Lewit from the Atlantic Mobile asked this question in the wake of NPR’s Top 100 YA list.

“The best young-adult books provide a portal to characters and perspectives that simply aren’t as readily available on the adult reading lists, and the passionate support for beloved titles and authors of both genders indicates that the need for these stories aren’t going anywhere.”

3. White bread YA

The NPR’s list also made waves with its dominance of white authors.  While author Laurie Halse Anderson was pleased that Speak and Wintergirls  made the list, her enjoyment was tempered by the lack of diversity that graced the list.  Anderson blogged in response to an American teacher’s naming of the list the ‘very best of white young adult books’ list.  Shaker Laurie’s post states:

“Reader identity and engagement are a huge component of the work we do as we address student reading problems, and when students are handed books full of characters that are unlike them racially, culturally, and socio-economically, the chasm between their picture of themselves and their idea of books and who books are for only widens.”

We can only hope that future lists demonstrate the narrowing of this chasm and that more readers seem themselves reflected back.   Soon to be appearing at the Melbourne Writers’ Festival, Newbery winner Linda Sue Park, questioned the  diversity of the judging panel and the NPR voting audience.  Her solution?

“…the absolute necessity of people of color in the gatekeeping roles. The editors & publishers. Reviewers, critics, commentators. Academics. Booksellers. Librarians. Um, panelists. We will NEVER achieve the diversity we seek in books for teens and younger readers until the gatekeepers themselves reflect that diversity.”

Agreed.

4. Australian YA Championship

The Kill Your Darlings young adult championship wrapped up last Friday with eleven titles put forward as the best of Australian YA from the past 30 years.  Most of the selections were from the 80s-90s period.  More recent titles were probably at a disadvantage due to the idea that a classic needs to stand the test of time.  Both Jordi Kerr (The Ghost’s Child) and Adele Walsh (Mandragora)  from the CYL team volunteered their picks and the winner will be revealed soon.

5. MWF

Next Monday the Melbourne Writers’ Festival schools’ program will kick off – tickets are still available for talks, workshops and panels.  Check out the fantastic range of authors on offer.

{updated} 6. Queensland Literary Awards

The shortlist for the young adult book award category has been released and we offer our congratulations to the recognised authors.

  • Night Beach (Kirsty Eagar, Penguin)
  • The Ink Bridge (Neil Grant, A&U)
  • Three Summers (Judith Clarke, A&U)
  • Sea Hearts (Margo Lanagan, A&U)
  • All I Ever Wanted (Vikki Wakefield, Text)

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