ALA 2011 Youth Media Awards & Interview with Stonewall Honor Award Winner, Author James Klise

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Originally aired January 20, 2011 at http://www.ala.org/ala/newspresscenter/mediapresscenter/presskits/youthmediaawards/alayouthmediaawards.cfm.

Each year the American Library Association (ALA) honors books and media for children and teens. Recognized worldwide for the high quality they represent, the ALA Youth Media Awards guide parents, educators, librarians and others in selecting the best materials for youth. Selected by committees composed of librarians and other literature and media experts, the awards encourage original and creative work in the field of children’s and young adult literature and media. The award announcements were made as part of the ALA Midwinter Meeting, held in 2011 at the San Diego Convention Center.

The winners were announced via a Live Webcast (http://alawebcast.unikron.com) and in real time on Twitter (#alayma). The last selection of the winners: 

Robert F. Sibert Medal for most distinguished informational book for children “Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World’s Strangest Parrot,” written by Sy Montgomery, is the 2011 Sibert Award winner. The book features photographs by Nic Bishop and is published by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

Two Sibert Honor Book were named: “Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring,” written by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan, illustrated by Brian Floca, a Neal Porter Book, published by Flash Point, an imprint ofRoaring Brook Press, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishing; “Lafayette and the American Revolution,” written by Russell Freedman and published by Holiday House.
 
Stonewall Children’s and Young Adult Literature Award “Almost Perfect,” written by Brian Katcher, published by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc. is the winner of the 2011 Stonewall Children’s and Young Adult Literature Award. The award is given annually to English-language children’s and young adult books of exceptional merit relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered experience.

Four honor books were selected: “will grayson, will grayson,” written by John Green and David Levithan and published by Dutton Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.; “Love Drugged,” written by James Klise and published by Flux, an imprint of Llewellyn Worldwide Ltd.; “Freaks and Revelations,” written by Davida Willis Hurwin and published by Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.; and “The Boy in the Dress,” written by David Walliams, illustrated by Quentin Blake and published by Penguin Young Readers Group.
 
Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for the most distinguished beginning reader book “Bink and Gollie,” written by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee and illustrated by Tony Fucile is the 2011 Seuss Award winner. The book is published by Candlewick Press.

Two Geisel Honor Books were named: “Ling & Ting: Not Exactly the Same!” written and illustrated by Grace Lin and published by Little, Brown and Company, a division of Hachette Book Group, Inc.; and “We Are in a Book!” written and illustrated by Mo Willems and published by Hyperion Books for Children, an imprint of Disney Book Group.
 

Interview with James Klise, Honor Award winner of the Stonewall Children’s and Young Adult Literature Award for  “Love Drugged,” published by Flux, an imprint of Llewellyn Worldwide Ltd.

Provide a short summary of your book:

Set in Chicago, “Love Drugged” is about a confused, freaked-out, closeted teenager who knows he’s gay, but he’s at that age when he’d prefer to be like everyone else he knows—in other words, straight. Jamie gets a girlfriend, which feels exciting but awkward, and then he discovers a new drug that promises to “cure” same-sex attraction. The novel follows Jamie’s stealing and experimenting with the drug, at the same time that his relationship with his girlfriend heats up.

What inspired you to write a YA book?

I wrote and published short stories for grown-ups for many years until, about eight years ago, I became a high school librarian. Working with teens, I remembered so many things I had forgotten, including a time in my life when the biggest, scariest drama I faced was a complete secret. Once I remembered, I couldn’t help but write about it.

What type of impact do you hope your book with have on its young readers or  the parents of young adults who may also read your book?

I hope the novel is fun read. I read for pleasure, and that’s true for most people. If there’s anything more, maybe the book will allow some adults and teens to discuss relevant issues without violating a teen’s privacy firewall. Reading a YA book together, people can talk about a character’s experiences, choices, and consequences, all in a way that is often impossible in real life. Incidentally, my website, Jamesklise.com, has a great list of resources for GLBT teens and their families.

Given the recent attention to bullying and homosexuality among youth, do you see your book a reflection of the times or a call for attention to the issues at present, which in fact have been around for a long time?

My book is less about bullying and more about internalized homophobia, but it certainly benefitted from timing. Last fall, around the time when “Love Drugged” hit stores, the media took an interest in the fact that so many GLBT teens are in serious crisis. Not a new phenomenon, of course. It may always be difficult for closeted young people to announce that they are different – in a significant way – from their parents, siblings and friends. It’s a big change for all members of the family to wrap their brains around.

What advice do you have for young adults who have a love for writing and wish to pursue this as a career?

I know quite a few teens who plan to be novelists someday. In fact, they’d like to be novelists now, but writing a novel is hard when you’re changing so much yourself. When you’re young, it’s easy to lose interest in a big project, and that’s frustrating. In our writing group at school, we focus on smaller goals: the quality of a sentence or an excellent description. We look over great dialogue in books, read poetry and think about perfect word choice. We aim to complete small exercises and build skills so they can write fantastic novels in five years, or in twenty years, but not worry about writing them today.

Do you have plans for any future books? 

I am completing a new novel, also set in Chicago. It’s a stand-alone novel about a high school fundraising scam. I run three clubs at my school and trust me, I have thought about fundraising scams from just about every angle.

What else would you like readers to know about and/or your book?

I am grateful to libraries for carrying it. I am a writer today because of weekly childhood visits to the public library, just off Main Street, in Peoria, IL. And I’m very grateful to the ALA Stonewall committee for selecting “Love Drugged,” because the Stonewall Honor may help libraries in some communities have the ability to say: The ALA liked it, and that’s why we carry it. Bookstore chains don’t carry many titles with GLBT characters, so these teens rely on libraries as the one place where they can find a selection of books—titles that reflect their diverse experiences and offer role models that allow them to imagine the future. A selection of great books is more valuable than any individual book can be.

Interested in learning more about James Klise, visit his web site at http://www.jamesklise.com

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