Hello, friends. Since February, I’ve been bursting with a secret: I am a juror for the 2016 Governor General’s Award for Young People’s Literature (Text category)!!!!!!!! (I will stop there, although there aren’t enough exclamation points in Canada for how I feel about this.) You guys, it’s been so difficult keeping this quiet. I’m used to talking about what I’m reading and why I’m reading it, any interesting side projects I have going, and how I spend a significant part of my leisure time. For nine months, I’ve had to be vague and evasive with all my friends:
Oh, these are review copies.
Yeah, I’ve been reading a lot of middle-grade novels for a change.
Yes, I do get a lot of parcels.
Finally! It’s such a relief to be able to say why.
Now that’s out of my system, I realize that the award is Not About Me and I hope each of the shortlisted authors (here in alphabetical order) will accept my heartfelt congratulations and admiration:
Mikaela Everett, for The Unquiet (Greenwillow Books)
E. K. Johnston, for A Thousand Nights (Disney/Hyperion)
Trilby Kent, for Once, in a Town Called Moth (Tundra Books)
Martine Leavitt, for Calvin (Groundwood Books)
Tim Wynne-Jones, for The Emperor of Any Place (Candlewick Press)
You know those clichés about “so many deserving books”, “excruciating choices”, “an embarrassment of riches”? They are all (in this case, certainly) entirely true and accurate. Arriving at this shortlist with fellow jurors, Don Aker and Polly Horvath, involved thousands of hours of reading and re-reading, a full day of deliberation, polemic, and debate, and an adjective-count in the millions. (Polly hates adjectives. But we each used roughly a squillion of them as we discussed the books.)
Warmest congratulations again to all the shortlisted authors, and to everybody on the submissions list. I’ve emerged from this process with so many new-to-me authors to follow, so many books to share with others. Cliché alert: It’s been a privilege. (But it really has.)