Posts Tagged ‘Book of Awesome’
My book for young readers, Canada’s Wars: An Illustrated History, didn’t win the Ontario Library Association’s White Pine Award on Tuesday. It was nominated. Nice things were said about it. Didn’t win.
The OLA’s program, Forest of Reading, assigns a tree to each age group, ranging from tykes to teens. White Pine is for the oldest group, 11 to 14, I think. Volunteer librarians and teachers read through piles of newly published books and come up with a shortlist for each age group. Actually, two shortlists: one for fiction, the other for non. When the lists are announced, teachers across the province encourage their students to read the books selected for their age group and then vote for their favorite, which gets the award. It’s a genius program.
For the students, part of the incentive to participate is a day off school. The OLA takes over Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre, buses in kids by the thousand and encourages them to rub shoulders with the writers whose books they have been reading. Some authors hold workshops. All are given the opportunity to do signings. And for each award there’s a ceremony at the Westjet Stage where the authors are marched in beneath a banner, introduced by a young person, and generally feted and cheered. Then the winners, fiction and non, are announced.
Part of the brilliance of the concept is the way books are selected: there’s something for everyone. Among the contenders for the White Pine non-fiction award this year were a graphic memoir, a hockey book, the biography of an addict, the autobiography of a comedian (Russell Peters), a polemic about the environment, a collection of true-adventure stories, an upbeat self-help manual and a collection of inspirational vignettes drawn from everyday life.
All tastes are catered to, from celebrity follower to sports fan to science nerd and everyone else. And that, clearly, is the point. The OLA’s motivation is not to give a boost to authors’ egos. (Though it’s entirely possible that they get a kick out of watching authors bask in all that manufactured adulation.) The real point is to get as many kids as possible to pick up and read a book. And, from the evidence at Harbourfront, they’re succeeding admirably.
At the other end of the stage from where I was sitting, someone won the award for fiction. I was sitting beside the ultimate winner of the non-fiction prize. Neil Pasricha, author of The Book of Awesome, is a charming guy who had the audience roaring their appreciation for the young woman who introduced his book. You have to admire a man who can manage a crowd like that. The rest of us cheered too.
I didn’t win. But did.