I've just returned from the American Library Association's annual conference in Washington, D.C. What a wonderful opportunity to meet librarians from across the country, listen to award-winning authors, and see the latest, newest books. The weather was most unusual for D.C. It was perfect with absolutely no humidity for the first three days I was there. It was a perfect for sightseeing and walking.
I was impressed by the many award ceremonies I attended. The Newbery-Caldecott banquet is always a highlight at the conference. David Wiesner won the Caldecott Medal for Flotsam, his third medal. The only other person to win three times is Marcia Brown. Looking at Flotsam one would never guess that the gem of an idea for this book came from Wiesner's childhood which he related to us in an eloquent speech. Susan Patron, a librarian, won the Newbery Medal for her book, The Higher Power of Lucky. Her speech was funny and revealing. I must reread the book now that I have new insight into the author.
My favorite moment in the conference was the speech given by Gene Luen Yang, who won the Michael L. Printz Medal for American Born Chinese. This is a graphic novel for teens made up of three plotlines: the determined efforts of the Chinese folk hero Monkey King to shed his humble roots and be revered as a god; the struggles faced by Jin Wang, a lonely Asian American middle school student who would do anything to fit in with his white classmates; and the plight of Danny, an All-American teen so shamed by his Chinese cousin Chin-Kee (a purposefully painful ethnic stereotype) that he is forced to change schools. Each story works well on its own, but Yang weaves these parallel tales into a powerful climax that destroys the hateful stereotype of Chin-Kee, while leaving both Jin Wang and the Monkey King satisfied and happy to be who they are. The speech was also powerful in Yang's high regard for librarians.
These are only my first impressions from ALA. Let me know what you think of these books, from the gorgeous illustrations of Flotsam to the power of bigotry in American Born Chinese.