INTERVIEW WITH JEAN DAYTON
by Nadine Pinede
Jean Dayton is the founder and owner of Dayton Bookings: Literary Tours and Promotions, a full service agency specializing in YA and children’s literature. Jean’s previous career as a children’s librarian and bookseller helped prepare her to create her agency in 1999. She now has a roster of over 35 award-winning authors and illustrators who can present their work to audiences of pre-K through college. Her authors include Marc Acito, NILA’s 2011 commencement speaker.
NP: How did you get your start in this business?
JD: By accident. My background is in bookselling and libraries. I was staying at home raising 3 boys in Louisiana. My first job was as Community Relations Manager at Barnes & Noble. I got experience in event planning.
When I started my agency, I had only one client, and she had published her first book. She asked me for help in booking a school visit after having spent a sleepless night at a PTA member’s guest bedroom, where the host’s dog clawed at the bedroom door all through the night. She didn’t want to repeat that experience!
NP: I doubt I’m the only writer who doesn’t know what goes on at a literary booking agency. What exactly do you do for your writers?
JD: I’m the bad guy. I put a businesslike veneer on the whole thing. It’s good to have an intermediary so you can be nice, but you can also tell people that your agent will kill you. Some writers are embarrassed to ask about money or don’t know how to do it. I establish a booking fee based on the number of books they’ve written, their awards, experience and exposure. Even the book’s title can affect the viability of bookings. If you price yourself higher, you cut down the number of requests. No matter what the price, you have to take it seriously.
Every day presents different challenges. I love being on Eastern Time. I work from my home office, near Lake Monroe. I start to get phone calls early, and since I’m the only point of contact, I arrange everything, from contacting bookselling to libraries and schools. I can create a complete itinerary. I can plan curriculum tie-ins for teachers and book signings and other ways of boosting sales for your book. Besides on-site visits, I can also create virtual author visits. You could say that what I do is a combination of travel and event planning for authors.
NP: What do people generally want to hear when they schedule an author visit?
JD: This depends of course on the author, but usually, teachers want some discussion of the revision process to reinforce the writing curriculum. They want to inspire students’ reading and writing, and to develop their work ethic. The biggest mistake an author can make is just reading their work, without making a human connection. If a writer isn’t comfortable speaking in front of people, I audition them by videotape, or I can book them into local schools, or I can offer them advice, such as joining Toastmaster. I advise authors to view the author visit as entertainment. Tell your story, and make real a connection with your audience.
NP: What do authors bring on a typical visit?
JD: It depends on the author. Some bring old-fashioned notes, drafts with revisions, inspirational photos. Teachers often make requests beforehand, such as asking for family stories. Thirty percent of my business is international, and I have authors touring around the world.
NP: What do you enjoy most about your work?
JD: I love everything: the authors, the librarians, and of course, the kids. I travel to book fairs and trade shows. I get a real adrenaline charge when I solve problems for my clients. I love the combination of travel and event planning, and even the clerical parts of this job.
What do you find most challenging?
What I find most challenging is when I’m working with someone who has trouble communicating. Also, I don’t want to work with a prima donna—or send one out.
NP: Any final words of advice for students in the Whidbey MFA program?
JD: When you’ve published your book, consider this as an option and as another career path. Touring and speaking engagements can be a good source of income. Some of my writers make more money speaking than with royalties. Groom yourself. Learn PowerPoint. Become comfortable speaking in front of groups.
And if you’re interested in being your own boss and creating your own booking agency, contact me. I hope more people will consider this career!
Leaving Yesler by Peter Bacho
Pleasure Boat Studio
Softcover $16.00 (250pp)
REVIEW by Sharon Mentyka
People who read novels know that fiction can sometimes get closer to the truth than facts ever can. For young readers, this is less of a revelation than an expectation.
Leaving Yesler is Seattle author and Evergreen College professor Peter Bacho’s new novel set in 1968 Vietnam-era Seattle about the truths 18-year old Bobby Vicente discovers about his past. What Bobby learns about his past weaves and merges fluidly with his present reality to ultimately shape his future—a forward-looking recipe young readers will take to heart.
Bacho is a child of Seattle’s Central District himself, and the majority of his books deal with the Filipino experience in the United States. But Leaving Yesler, due out in late March from Pleasure Boat Studio, is his first foray into writing for young adult readers. The author describes the book as “a Filipino American novel without a Filipino protagonist.”
Leaving Yesler tells the story of Bobby Vincente, a “one drop of black blood Pinoy” looking for a way out of the Yesler Terrace housing project, the only home he’s ever known. Bobby is not the first in his family to want out of Yesler Terrace. It’s the dream as well of his aging father, Antonio, a former prizefighter who settled in Seattle as part of the first wave of Filipino immigration to the city in the late 20s—part of a generation who “hope for the best but get ready for the worst.”
Bobby’s baby steps include passing the GED and making it into community college (also his way of avoiding the draft). What he hasn’t figured into his plan is falling in love with sophisticated, worldly Deena. Nor has he planned on the stirring inside him of the familial allure of boxing, nor his nightly conversations with his dead brother Paulie, killed in Vietnam.
Bobby’s day-to-day world is strictly bounded by the International District—though he admires the Olympic Mountains in the distance, he’s never been there—yet his ordinary life is endowed with a kind of grace. Food and cooking make a lovely appearance as symbols of love for both his father and Deena. Gradually, and with a trust that sometimes comes from strong family ties, Bobby gives himself up to the pull of destiny and comes to perceive a greater, more extraordinary life existing right at his fingertips where “the erasure of the line between life and death becomes as normal as Seattle’s December rain.”
There’s considerable debate these days over what makes a novel fit the Young Adult (YA) genre. At some point, the argument becomes moot. Kids pick up books that interest them regardless of where marketing professionals have placed them in the bookstore. A book’s primary appeal might very well depend simply on the voice—too much filtering through an adult retrospective lens will sink it. Bobby Vicente’s voice—Bacho’s voice—is right on target.
YA novels are steppingstones, not destinations. YA readers study them not to see who they already are, but to discover what kind of adults they may become. In Leaving Yesler, they may discover a way to look back at the same time they look forward, and like Bobby, they may find “lives that, under the circumstances, had been pretty well-lived.”
Peter Bacho is a prolific author and native Seattlelite who currently teaches at Evergreen State College. Two of his books, Cebu (University of Washington Press, 1991) the story of a Filipino American priest who arrives in the Philippines to bury his mother in her homeland, and A Dark Blue Suit (University of Washington Press, 1997) won him American Book Awards. A Dark Blue Suit, a collection of short stories that trace the struggles of the Filipino community of Seattle from its beginnings in the 1920s through to the present, also received the Washington Governor’s Writers Award. His YA novel, Leaving Yesler will be published by Pleasure Boat Studio the end of March, 2010.
Interviewer Sharon Mentyka: Many of your stories and books seem to deal with similiar themes—religion, boxing, the immigrant experience as does your first Young Adult (YA) novel Leaving Yesler. To your mind, how does it differ from the others?
PB: It really doesn’t. Different cast of characters but the same social setting—a multiethnic working class-to-poor sort of context. What unites it all is that most of the books take place in the same general neighborhood, the Central District of Seattle, which was the best place in the world to grow up as a kid in the 1950s and 1960s. Then, it was an especially rich area, at least in terms of cultures, full of folks from almost every conceivable race—lots of African Americans, Filipinos, other Asians, mixes of all kind. We made friends across the “barriers” that nowadays divide at least some of us.
SM: So I have to ask: Is Leaving Yesler really a thinly veiled autobiography loosely disguised as fiction? At least tell us if you box.
PB: Yeah, I used to box as a kid. I still hit the heavy bag and do the exercises—just focus on breaking a good sweat nowadays. Somewhere in the back of my head, there’s a thought that a good right hook might come in handy in my dotage, too. You never know who you might have a beef with in a nursing home…
But seriously, as a young person, I was obsessed with boxing and the entire male ritual of self defense, etc. etc. I used to watch it with my dad and uncles. But no, I didn’t live in Yesler—32nd and Thomas, still part of the Central Area but not Yesler Terrace. The notions of love, though, the admiration for Catholic education, the disdain for the hyper-machismo street “mack,” even Bobby’s southpaw stance and how he boxed, opposition to the Vietnam War—yeah, all that’s mine.
SM: I’ve noticed that several of your books (Nelson’s Run, Entrys) have young protaganists. Yet they were marketed towards a general audience. Why do you consider your forthcoming book Leaving Yesler to be specifically for young adults? Do you expect or hope the book may cross-over into the general book audience?
PB: I like YA, because the humor can be so goofy, and adult reviewers might not get it, but kids will…like Saint Polycarp, Paulie and Poly, etc. [ed: character names that Bacho plays with in the novel] I think I wrote something like ‘Polycarp flew to the James Brown Review at the Apollo and went black and never went back’ or words to that effect. Goofy, but for a kid, I think they’ll get it. But when writing Yesler, I got into being 16 again, thinking what would make me laugh, and I had just a helluva good time writing it. And no, I don’t object to adults padding my bank account.
SM: As a professor of Liberal Studies at Evergreen College, you have easy access to 21st century youth culture. Does that influence your writing at all?
PB: Yeah, it does influence my writing. I teach in the Evergreen Tacoma program, which is interdisciplinary. Here and everywhere else I’ve taught, I keep an ear open for what young people are saying, what they’re doing, what’s going on…When I was raising my daughter, I was always able to make her laugh and that’s because I always paid attention to her context, her world, her unending list of dramas and issues which I knew from my own days. Things don’t change that much, you know. Although I think great American Music stopped with the Sam and Dave, Junior Walker, Jackie Wilson, James Brown and the hot, unmatchable R & B of the late sixties and early seventies—the bands with the great horns—I’m sure some young blood somewhere is just itching to prove me wrong.
SM: So what keeps you in the Pacific Northwest? Is the pull of family and culture that so often informs your themes still alive and kicking inside you?
PB: Family and memory and the beauty of the place. The old community no longer exists, and that makes me sad. But I still kind of like going around to the old places and just remembering. Sure, there are a lot more Filipinos here, but that overwhelming sense of community that I knew—it’s just not the same. So in many ways, my stories are an homage to a community that no longer exists.
SM: Tell us about how you balance your life: writing, family, teaching. Who and what are you currently reading?
PB: Effective teaching to me remains a passion. I love my wife and friends, and family. I make sure to spend time with my pals, some of whom go back forty years. I love writing, but I write only when I have a story to tell, and then it becomes a two to three year obsession. But I’m not obsessed all the time, and certainly not now…I’m just wired that way. March Madness, a Pacquiao fight and the start of baseball season are coming up and I have to clear my schedule.
SM: What do you hope a young adult, possibly one of Filipino heritage still living in the Seattle area, might come away thinking about your book?
PB: That we—my generation of old (or getting old) goats lived interesting lives and that he or she not be afraid to do that. Young writers can’t tell my generation’s stories, but maybe they can tell their own.
Yang the Youngest and his Terrible Ear selected for the Seattle Public Library’s 2010 Global Reading Challenge
Interview by Claire Gebben
I first met Lensey Namioka through Seattle Freelances (SFL). She has bragging rights to an impressive list of published titles for children and young adults. Barnes and Noble selected her book Ties That Bind, Ties That Break as one of twelve titles in their Book Quest program, and Seattle Public Library (SPL) selected Yang the Youngest and His Terrible Ear (Paperback Plus) for their 2010 Global Reading Challenge. Her book Half and Half was featured in the SPL Global Reading Challenge for 2008. In addition, Mismatch, about family disapproval when a Chinese-American girl and a Japanese-American boy fall in love, was listed on the 2008 International Reading Association Young Adults’ Choices. Yet, this Chinese-born author hangs back with customary modesty. Her voice is soft and, though she moved to the U.S. at the age of nine, a Chinese accent lingers in her speech. I was intrigued enough by this quiet but mighty presence in our SFL midst, that I called her for an interview. She graciously accepted, and we set up a time of 9 a.m. Thursday to talk by phone. Since we’d only met briefly, Lensey was understandably tentative. To warm us up, I emailed her a few questions in advance. Then, on Thursday morning as I was still reading the last few pages of Ties that Bind, Ties that Break, the phone rang. I had lost track of the time: it was 9:01. It seemed I had opened the flood gates. Before I could even get the file open on my computer, answers to my questions were spilling from Lensey in a rush. For the next half hour, my fingers pounded the keyboard like I was working up an allegro section of a piano concerto. Lensey left me breathless, but more importantly, inspired.
February 4, 2010 Interview with Lensey Namioka:
I see from your biography you studied mathematics at Radcliffe and UC Berkeley. What helped you make the final decision to switch from mathematics to writing?
I finally made the unfortunate discovery that math requires creativity. I can solve problems that someone has given me. I used to get good grades in that. When I first entered school I didn’t speak English, which is what made math easier for me. But then I realized just solving problems that other people gave me wasn’t enough. To do well in math you have to have the creativity to think up your own problems, so I gave that up.
Did you also study writing, or is the writing craft something you’ve learned on your own?
I took freshman English in college, but that was all the writing that I studied. Most of it, I learned on my own. I got my start when I decided to write articles for “East Is East,” a newspaper that came out once a month. I happened to know one of the editors. Then I wrote articles on traveling in Asia, that kind of thing.
I also meet with a critique group – we call ourselves “The Rejects” – we’ve been meeting together for about thirty years. We cry on each others’ shoulders, and read our latest stuff. They really keep me going. Several of us belong to Seattle Freelances.
You’ve had many adventures worthy of writing about as non-fiction, for example your move from China to the U.S. as a young girl.
Some of the things that appear in my books actually happened to me. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the books about the Yang family. Even though it’s set in the modern age, some of that is me. My family is pretty musical, but I’m not one of the better ones. I’ve played piano and I’ve sung a lot. When I was in college, I sang in a lot of madrigal groups. I’m very good at counting time, I never miss my entrances, although some people wish I would [laughs]. I also enjoy going to concerts.
It seems you have a great ear for language.
Well, I’m not that great on languages. I speak Chinese, English and some Japanese. But I wouldn’t say that I have an exceptional ear.
I’ve also noticed how well you understand the psychology of your characters.
Thank you [laughs]. I wish some reviewers would say that.
I’ve just been reading your book Ties that Bind, Ties that Break. Is that based on real-life experiences?
Actually, it was my grandmother who tried to force my mother to have her feet bound, but my mother refused. She resisted and said, “No, absolutely not!” But she did have support from her father. She’s sort of the heroine in “Ties that Bind.” Of course, there are many other heroines, but she is the one that inspired me. The peasant women didn’t have their feet bound, but my mother was one of the first of her generation in the middle and upper classes to not have that done.
Your father’s role in developing a Chinese alphabet is fascinating – is that something you have written about?
No I did not, because so many people had written about him that it would have been redundant. In the field of linguistics he’s pretty well known. In fact, at the University of Washington in the Far East Department they know of him. Many, better people have written about my father’s role in linguistics.
I wonder if it is a struggle to “sell” books about Asian Americans. Have you been categorized or limited in any way by the publishing industry?
Not now. At first, when I wrote the book about two Japanese Samurai – that’s when I first started writing books, in the 1970’s – I was told you couldn’t sell a book where the main characters were Japanese. So I had to introduce a European character, a soldier of fortune. The title is The Samurai and the Long Nose Devils – “long nose” referring to the Europeans, of course [laughs]. But then books about people from other countries began to be published in this country, so it became easier.
Now books about Asia are welcome. In fact, when I wrote a short story entitled “Lafff” the editor said, “Look, the main character is just a plain old American girl. Why don’t you make it Asian? It’s what they expect you to write.” So I ended up making the main character an Asian American.
I’ve had various editors. My earliest were with Vanguard Press. Since Random House bought them, my editors are mostly with Random House. The Yang books were edited by somebody at Little Brown.
What led you to the fiction genre?
I enjoy reading fiction. I did write two non-fiction books about traveling in Japan and China. They were published in the 1970’s, so some of the things I’ve said in them have changed or are out of date.
But the reason I started writing the samurai stories: Even as a little kid in China, I loved reading adventure stories. If you’ve ever gone to a book store in Chinatown, you’ll see shelves and shelves of fiction that involve warriors—women warriors in fact. Women warriors are very prominent in Chinese fiction. Have you heard of Mulan? She is typical of the kind of character you find in Chinese pulp fiction, especially a woman warrior who can do feats of swordsmanship. That’s what I grew up on. That’s what I enjoy writing.
My books on the samurai – six books altogether – are adventure stories. I think a lot of them are available in the local libraries and bookstores.
You may wonder why I write about Japanese instead of Chinese warriors? At the time I started in the 1970’s, the United States had no relationship at all with mainland China, only with Taiwan. In those days, the Cultural Revolution was going on. I had relatives and friends in China, so decided it would be safest for them if I wrote about Japan. Also, my husband’s home town in Japan has a stunningly beautiful castle. We visited it and I got lost. I had a great time there. In Japanese castles they have a maze-like approach so the enemy can’t attack straight on. It made a big impression on me. The first book I wrote, called White Serpent Castle about sixteenth-century Japan, didn’t get published first. It came out after Samurai And the Long-nosed Devil. But it’s come out in a couple of different editions since then, the latest one by Tuttle Company.
I did eventually write one book about a Chinese outlaw band, called Phantom of Tiger Mountain. The main characters are outlaws, and you’ll find this story is very similar to what you read in Chinese pulp fiction.
What is your next writing project?
I’m currently writing a non-fiction biography for adults about mathematics. My editor for that book at Springer Press keeps changing. So at the moment I’m stuck until I get a new editor. Meanwhile, Ties that Bind, Ties that Break has a sequel, and now I’m writing the third book of that series.
In honor of one of the best writers of middle grade fiction, here are three rapid reviews of Barbara O’Connor’s most recent works.
The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis
by Barbara O’Connor
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Ages 9-12
Review by Grier Jewell
Barbara O’Connor has a knack for creating offbeat characters living a few degrees north of normal (but never with cartoonish effect). The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis is no exception.
Recipe for this irresistible middle grade novel:
1 very bored boy with a bad eye
1 no good, no account uncle
1 grandmother with an obsessive fear of cracking up
A pack of wild children stuck in a stranded RV
Several mysterious Yoo-hoo boats floating down a creek
1 eccentric girl with wings
Pour into a pan of mad talent and READ!
Though the world of Popeye is far from average, it’s normal as far as he’s concerned. All he needs is a little adventure to break up the boredom of every day tick tick ticking away. As the title states, this is a small adventure. Small, as in: a spark of genius wrapped up in a tiny childhood treasure. Any world O’Connor creates is one I want to inhabit. Popeye’s is no exception. Get The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis. I command you.
Greetings from Nowhere (Frances Foster Books)
by Barbara O’Connor
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Ages 9-12
Review by Grier Jewell
Greetings from Nowhere is like a warm chocolate chip cookie you remember from long ago and keep trying to re-create for the rest of your life because it’s that good. Once again, O’Connor has created a unique ensemble of unforgettable characters: a truculent boy on his way to reform school, an infectious optimist in search of her “other” mother, a deserted father and daughter in search of a new life, and a grieving widow in search of a solution—all of whom find their way to the Sleepy Time Motel, the vanishing remains of a time before freeways and strip malls. It’s here that life rests long enough for each of these vibrant characters to form new bonds and better days ahead. O’Connor crafts each subplot with quiet, gentle simplicity that will make you savor every word. The ending creates a lingering satisfaction that does not disappoint.
Whether you want to write for middle graders or you are one yourself, stop reading this and instead, pick up a copy of Greetings from Nowhere.
How to Steal a Dog
by Barbara O’Connor
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Ages 9-12
Review by Grier Jewell
How to Steal a Dog lobs a bold shot across the bow with the mother of all first-lines: “The day I decided to steal a dog was the same day my best friend, Luanne Godfrey, found out I lived in a car.” Who’s going to walk away after a first line like that?
The main character, Georgina Hayes, is living in a car with her mother and little brother after her father walked out and left them homeless. She’s hungry, tired, ashamed, and angry—all the things you’d expect from a child in unbearable circumstances. Georgina concocts a scheme to steal a dog from someone she feels will put up a hefty reward so that her mother can afford a real home.
Of all the books by Barbara O’Connor I’ve read, this one caused me the most conflict. Even though Georgina is desperate, I found it difficult to watch her plot the theft of a beloved dog. I’m a fanatical dog lover, so even if there’s some benign dog-stealing going on, I couldn’t rest until I learned the fate of the furry little kidnap victim, Willy. There’s a lot here to ponder about the justification of a wrong action, but the ending felt a little thin. There’s a lesson here that doesn’t need to be overtly didactic, but it seemed slightly unfinished. I have to hand it to O’Connor, however, for taking on such a difficult topic without becoming mired in sappy melodrama.
Despite my quibbles, How to Steal a Dog is a must read, especially when it’s followed up with some discussion. As for her writing, it’s classic O’Connor quality.
For more Barbara O’Connor, visit her blog. This site is worthy of a bookmark on your browser.
Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
2009 winner of the Michael L. Printz Award
(see article below for details on this prestigious award)
Review by Cynthia Waldman
Seventeen-year-old Taylor Markham has a war to run and it would help if she knew where her mother was and why she’d abandoned Taylor on Jellicoe Road six years earlier. In this coming of age novel set in a state-run boarding school deep in the Australian Bush, writer Melina Marchetta lays out clues to Taylor’s traumatic past like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. As Taylor and the reader fit the clues together, the mysteries are gradually solved making JELLICOE ROAD a compelling novel that’s every bit worthy of the Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature.
In what may be confusing to some readers, JELLICOE ROAD is told in both past and present time, weaving together seemingly unrelated tales. The past is presented via a manuscript that begins with a horrific car accident that unites the young survivors in a bond born of tragedy. The present day story concerns Taylor’s struggles to find her mother and her own identity. These past and present tales are interwoven like the thistle placemats that a man known only as the “Hermit” was teaching Taylor to make. “Take care of my little girl,” the Hermit whispers to Taylor just before he lifts a gun to his head and shoots himself. The reason for the Hermit’s suicide and the identity of his little girl are just two of the many mysteries Taylor must solve in order to complete the puzzle of her life.
As head of her House and the student in charge of territory wars fought against rivals of Jellicoe School – Townies and Cadets – Taylor must negotiate the booby traps and captured trails of her school life while trying to decipher the mysteries of her past. On her own (her guardian has disappeared), and fighting off depression and debilitating asthma attacks, Taylor must deal with her responsibilities as head of Lachlan House, and run the territory wars as well. A game that is taken very seriously, the territory wars bring the community together. New friendships forged in battle allow Taylor to discover yet more pieces of the puzzle of her past.
Told in the first person, Taylor’s voice is strong, intelligent, and understandably angry. Each of Taylor’s friends is equally well drawn, and an integral part of the story. These characters, along with the mysterious manuscript that turns out to be all too real, aid Taylor in her quest for the truth.
The manuscript, which is presented a few pages at a time throughout the novel, turns out to be a big piece of the puzzle. Characters from the manuscript exist in the present under different names, while elements of their lives mirror Taylor’s. The enigmatic cadet Jonah Griggs, for example, is in many ways the mirror image of Jude, the cadet in the manuscript. The territory wars? They were first created by those tragic teens from the manuscript as a way to alleviate the boredom of the bush. And the Hermit and his little girl? You’ll have to read the book to find out. All these complications and convolutions of time, name, and story make for a challenging yet satisfying read.
A complex literary achievement, Marchetta’s novel can be confusing at times, but with a protagonist most teen girls would find compelling, and a mystery that keeps the reader guessing, it’s well worth the ride down JELLICOE ROAD.
Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature
Janet Buttenwieser is a first-year student at the Northwest Institute for Literary Arts, and served on the Young Adult Library Association’s Michael L. Printz Committee from 2006-2007, and the Popular Paperbacks Committee from 2004-2006. Cynthia Waldman interviewed Janet regarding her experience on the Committee.
What is the Michael L. Printz Award?
The Printz award is an award given to the best Young Adult book (fiction, non-fiction, poetry or anthology) published in the year preceding the award announcement. “Young Adult” is defined as being published for 12-18 Year-olds. “Best” is defined in the committee’s charge as “solely in terms of literary merit.”
What are the criteria used to select the winner?
For the criteria, I refer you to the Printz Policies and Procedures.
Could you describe the process by which books are nominated and judged?
First, a brief explanation of the committee itself. Each of the nine committee members are members of YALSA, (Young Adult Library Services Association), which is the YA division of the American Library Association (ALA). ALA committees also choose several other book awards each year, including the Newbery and the Caldecott.
Publishers mail the Committee copies of their young adult titles for the year, and committee members are required to read hundreds of titles during the year.
Nominations are accepted throughout the year, until Dec 1 of the given year. Publishers, authors, or editors may not nominate their own titles. Otherwise, nominations from the field must be seconded by a committee member. Nominators fill out an online form on the Printz Award website. Typically, there are 40-50 nominations in a given year.
Nominations are discussed by the committee over email throughout the year, and at two in-person committee meetings in June of the year preceding the award and the January that the award is announced (the ALA Annual Meeting and ALA Mid-Winter meeting, respectively). Committee members read each nomination several times, and come to the meetings armed with notes ready to defend their choices. There is a lengthy and lively discussion about each of the nominated titles. Voting for the winner (and honor books, if applicable) happens at the January meeting. The committee contacts the authors and then the award-winners are announced on the final morning of the January conference. The following June, the winners give speeches at a reception in their honor.
In addition to being an MFA student, Janet Buttenwieser has two children, Caleb, age two, and Helen, age 3 months. She writes between diaper changes at her home in Seattle, Washington.
For older reviews and interviews (including an interview with Kirby Larson, winner of the Newbery Medal) please visit our Archive