Teen readers are generous people. They like to share. Ask them what they’re reading now and who they like, and they’ll happily recommend a slew of titles and authors that are well known and loved among themselves, their friends and hopefully, the significant adults in their lives. But some teen readers like to be a little ahead of the pack. They want to find the future stars of YA literature, to be among the first to recommend an up-and-coming author with a new book. So, where do they go for that?
For a fast, easy way to find new authors writing for teens, look no further than the William C. Morris awards list. According to the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) who started the award in 2009, “The William C. Morris YA Debut Award . . . honors a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens and celebrating impressive new voices in young adult literature.” Up to five titles are selected and announced each December and yesterday, the winner was revealed! Seraphina by Rachel Hartman is the Morris YA Debut Award winner for 2013.
But wait, there’s more! The other four Morris finalists are themselves worthy runners-up with “impressive new voices” of their own and certainly worth checking out. They are: Wonder Show written by Hannah Barnaby, Love and Other Perishable Items written by Laura Buzo, After the Snow written by S. D. Crockett, and The Miseducation of Cameron Post written by emily m. danforth. In fact, look at past Morris finalists here and one can find, in only four short years, authors who have already become favorites among young adult audiences: Kristin Cashore, Nina LaCour, Malinda Lo and notably, Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl, whose first book, Beautiful Creatures, will be opening as a film on February 14th.
I spent Monday morning glued to my computer watching the live webcast of the Youth Media Awards. You can find an archived version of the webcast here. (Watch for the young adult librarian, he’s great fun.) By and large, I read young adult fiction, so I was pleasantly surprised to have actually read the 2013 Newbery winner, The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate. I was also surprised that I hadn’t read the Printz award winner, In Darkness by Nick Lake. And I thought I was doing so well this year (sigh).
My personal favorite, Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, was an honor book. Huzzah! Three other titles also received Printz honors: Dodger by Terry Pratchett, Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz and The White Bicycle by Beverley Brenna. Why is The White Bicycle not highlighted? Because our library district doesn’t have it and apparently, this is a dilemma shared by other libraries across the country and that, my friends, is why the Printz awards are so great!
Yes, it’s nice when we can say we’ve widely read the notable books of the year and there are nods of acknowledgement when the winners are named. But isn’t it delightful when something just falls out of nowhere and now we have a new book and author to discover? I can’t wait to track this title down! So thank you, Printz committee members, for giving us a few surprises along the way and future favorites to recommend.