Vacation Reads Part Deux- the Old Line State (even the nickname sounds literary)

As you read this, the Bookmobile (aka my van- yes, I’m one of THOSE moms), is speeding along the interstate on the way to visit family in Maryland. In honor of this extravaganza of travel (9+ hours in a van w/ a toddler and a dog), here are some Maryland book awards:

1. The Black Eyed Susan Award (named for the state flower FYI) is run through the School Media Centers, and a list of nominees is circulated to the schools who order the books, students then read and vote. A favorite method of mine. 🙂 From their website:

The Black-Eyed Susan Book Award is a children’s choice award for the state of Maryland. Each year since 1992, the Black-Eyed Susan Book Award has been given to authors and/or illustrators of outstanding books chosen for the award by Maryland students. The award seeks to promote literacy and lifelong reading habits by encouraging students to read quality, contemporary literature.

Reading committees of school and public librarians, and other interested members of the Maryland Association of School Librarians (MASL), meet to determine which books will be nominated and placed on student reading lists. There are four different reading lists: Picture Books, books for students in Grades 4-6, books for students in Grades 6-9, and books for High School students. The nominated books are expected to be outstanding books that broaden the human experience and provide students with new insights into their own lives. Books may be suggested for consideration by students, teachers, parents, or other interested readers.Susans

Following are some of the criteria which are used in determining the nominated books:

  • Books may be fiction or nonfiction.
  • Books must have a copyright date of the current year or one of the preceding three years and be readily available.
  • Each title selected will have received positive reviews from appropriate professional journals.
  • Books must have been read, discussed, and voted upon by the appropriate Black-Eyed Susan reading committee before being placed on the appropriate list.

Students who vote for the winning titles must have followed the “Guidelines for School Participation” before voting. Students may cast one vote for the book they consider to be the most outstanding book in each of the categories. All votes from schools across the state of Maryland are submitted to the Black-Eyed Susan Book Award committee to be tallied in order to determine the winners. The winning authors and/or illustrators receive an award engraved with the book title, the year, and the Black-Eyed Susan Book Award logo. Authors, illustrators, and publishers recognize the Maryland Black-Eyed Susan Book Award as an honor bestowed by Maryland student readers.

2. There are the following book festivals in the only state founded as a primarily Catholic colony:

Book Festivals
Annapolis Book Festival
Baltimore Book Festival
Bethesda Literary Festival
Capital BookFest
Frederick County Bookfest
International Day of the Book Festival in Kensington
National Book Festival

3. I’ve already posted about the F. Scott Fitzgerald award, but it’s in MD too.

4. The Maryland Library Association hosts the Blue Crab Young Reader Award.

The Maryland Blue Crab Young Reader Award was created in 2004 in an attempt to stimulate interest in books for the beginning reader and the emergent independent reader. At that time, there were few books produced in this niche, and it was hoped that an award that could garner national attention would encourage authors, illustrators and publishers to produce better quality books in this niche.

Since the inception of this committee for the Maryland Library Association (MLA), other organizations have begun to offer beginning reader awards as well. For example, the American Library Association (ALA) established the Geisel award in 2004 in response to this need in children’s publishing.


  • Identify and promote the best fiction and nonfiction books published at the K-2nd grade reading level (early readers) and at the 2nd-4th grade reading level (transitional readers), both for children reading at grade level and for reluctant older readers.
  • Provide teachers, librarians, and caregivers with a resource list of excellent books for beginning readers.
  • Encourage publishers, authors, and illustrators to create high quality books for beginning readers.

Each year, 1 (one) winning book and up to 3 (three) honor books will be selected to receive an award in each of the following categories:

  • Beginning Reader Fiction
  • Beginning Reader Nonfiction
  • Transitional Fiction
  • Transitional Nonfiction

About the Committee

The committee is made up of at least 8 members and a Chair. The Chair is selected by the CSD Steering Committee each year at its January meeting. The members of the committee are chosen so that a variety of experiences and skills sets are represented and so that the geographical diversity within the state is reflected. The desired makeup is:

  • 1-2 Maryland Association of School Libraries (MASL) members
  • At least 1 children’s materials selector
  • Remaining spots to be filled by MLA public library children’s staff members

5. The NCSS (headquartered in MD)  presents the Carter G Woodson award for social studies themed books for kids, using the following criteria:

Generally, nominated books are evaluated for five key traits:

  • Respect for ethnic and racial differences and the worth and importance of individual(s)/group(s) presented.
  • Focus on individuals and issues that provide insight into the experiences of racial and ethnic groups.
  • Focus on the interactions among racial/ethnic groups.
  • Avoids portraying the group(s) as “problem oriented”; presentation of positive, balanced with negative.
  • Avoids patronizing, distorting, and stereotyping in text and illustrations.

Eligibility Criteria:
Books nominated for the Carter G. Woodson Book Award should deal with the experience of one or more racial/ethnic minority groups in the United States. To be
eligible, the book must meet the following criteria:

  • Accurately reflect the perspectives, cultures, and values of the particular ethnic group or groups.
  • Be informational or nonfiction. However, it should be primarily a trade or supplementary book as opposed to a book that is primarily a text book.
  • Be written for children or young people (standard terms with specific meaning used by librarians and the American Library Association).
  • Be well written and reflect originality in presentation and theme.
  • The setting of the book must be in the United States of America.
  • Have been published in the year preceding the year in which the award is presented.
  • Be published in the United States, but the author of the book need not be a United States citizen.

6. For SEVERAL more contests, poetry awards, literary organizations, etc., the Maryland Humanities council has an EXCELLENT web site for Literary Resources. Too cool. What else would you expect from the state whose official sport is jousting?

7. Another award from the MD Library assoc. honors Maryland Authors:

The Maryland Library Association established the Maryland Author Award in 1996 to honor Maryland authors. Each year a committee of MLA members grants the award in one of four rotating genres: adult fiction, youth literature, poetry and non-fiction. The winning author receives the award at the MLA annual conference and speaks at a conference meal function. The MLA also distributes to conference attendees a brochure highlighting the author and other notable Maryland authors. The conference is the largest gathering of librarians in the state and an ideal venue for increasing awareness of Maryland literature and publishing.

8.  These authors/ journalists/ word-folks  are from Maryland:

And lastly, THIS blog entry has an awesome list of books by Marylanders.

Happy Travels! And for my DH who loves his O’s & loves me enough to leave his hometown, “O’s, ‘Strohs, & Natty Bo’s!”


Vacation Reads…(kind of)

As Summer begins, I thought I’d use vacation season to recognize some State-based book awards. In memory of some family vacations I’ll not bore you by describing, we’ll start with FLORIDA. (Yes, there’s more there than beaches & mouse ears).

1. The Florida Book Awards

Its sixth annual competitions now complete, Florida Book Awards announces winners for books published in 2011 in seven categories of competition. “The Florida Book Awards exists to identify and profile the Sunshine State’s best books and their authors,” notes FBA Director Wayne A. Wiegand. “These FBA winners clearly demonstrate the quality and depth of Florida’s increasingly rich literary culture.”

Submissions were read by eight juries of three members each nominated from across the state by cosponsoring organizations. Jurors are authorized to select up to three medalists (including one Gold Winner, one Silver Runner-up, and one Bronze Medalist) in each of the eight categories; jurors are also authorized to make no selections in a given year.

Click on the link for a list of winners. You know how I feel about awards with discretion enough NOT to award just for the sake of awarding. 🙂

2. President’s Book Awards–  Sadly, the .org website for the Fl Publisher’s association was down, but the link will take you to an EXCELLENT blog entry about this year’s winners. I will try to update this when I can get the .org site to pull up.

3. Children’s Book Award

The Florida Reading Association invites Pre-Kindergarten through Second Grade students to participate in voting for the Florida Children’s Book Award. Nominations for books to be considered for the school year are due by December 15. The books nominated must have been copyrighted within the last five years and be currently in print. A nomination form can be found under the Recommend a Book link.

Once students have read or heard the nominated books, their votes can be tallied and submitted to the Children’s Book Award Chairman though the online form. Ballots must be received no later than April 15. Results will be announced on the FRA web site and in the FRA newsletter. The winning book will be honored at the FRA Conference in October.

Yay! Kids voting. 🙂

4. Florida Historical Society Awards– This well-respected society gives out 18 awards for everything from academic papers to book-length explorations of FL history. One of my favorite professors was a recipient of one of these. (Yay Dr. Revels!) If you’d like to learn more about the incredibly complex part of the world that is Florida, these would be good places to start. Nominations are mailed in, read by a jury and voted on.

Entries are evaluated by independent panels of judges appointed by the Society. Judges will carefully consider each entry based on factors including (but not limited to) quality of scholarship, factual accuracy, clarity of expression, original thinking, significance of topic and overall contribution to knowledge of Florida history. The judges’ decisions are final.


Send all entries to the Florida Historical Society, 435 Brevard Avenue, Cocoa, FL 32922. Entry deadlines for some awards are on Jan. 10, while other awards have a March 1 deadline. Entrants are advised to adhere strictly to deadlines for each award category. The term “submit by…” means entries (or nominations) must be RECEIVED at the Florida Historical Society office by 5 p.m. on the date specified. Entries received later will not be considered. Entries must be clearly marked as to award category.


5. SSYRA Awards– In the world of school & reading, there are some programs out there that push kids to read books at/above their reading level, irregardless of their interest level, and then take a quiz, earn some points and move on. Read HERE for why this leaves me conflicted (her thoughts are more coherent).  Anyway, this is thankfully, not one of those programs:

The Sunshine State Young Reader’s Award Program is a statewide reading motivation program for students in grades 3-8. The program, cosponsored by the School Library Media Services Office of the Department of Education and the Florida Association for Media in Education (FAME), began in 1983. The purpose of the SSYRA Program is to encourage students to read independently for personal satisfaction, based on interest rather than reading level.

Sunshine State books are selected for their wide appeal, literary value, varied genres, curriculum connections, and/or multicultural representation. Students are encouraged to read books that are above, on, and below their tested reading level in order to improve their reading fluency

Once the kids have read 3 books off the list, they can then vote for their favorite. 🙂

6. Florida Teens Read– This is a more grown-up version of #5.

Teens in Florida read and Florida media specialists know it! Florida Teens Read is a list of 15 titles that have been chosen by a committee of thirteen media specialists specifically to engage high school students (grades 9 through 12) and reflect their interests as well as represent a variety of genres, formats, reading levels, viewpoints, and ethnic and cultural perspectives.Teens are encouraged to read at least three of the titles on the current list. From April 1 to April 30 each year a link will be available on the FAME web page for students to vote for their favorite book.

Coolness. We have a similar program here, and I always like to see what the kids who actually read 3 books for FUN vote for. 🙂

Value book shopping….

One aspect of book awards is that it’s immediately eye-catching to see that shiny gold sticker, or “award-winning….” plastered across the front. I admit, I have been suckered into picking up a book with those accolades, only to wonder after reading it, “Why?”  IMHO, this makes the book less than a true “value.” (take that with a grain of salt, as I have rarely met a book I didn’t like (Billy Budd, I’m talking to you)). I’ve been pleased to find though, that most of the awards I’ve talked about have been earnest attempts to applaud merit and only a COUPLE have been blatant marketing schemes. 🙂

That said, I was recently stalking the iBook store while at work, and given my non-existent budget, was pondering which purchase to make: the next installment of a series, a “new” book/author, a beloved favorite I don’t actually own, one of the “$3.99 or less” books, a free book….the options were endless. 🙂 I love book shopping.

And then, I found myself narrowing things down by doing quick math to see how much the book was per “page” on the theory that if I can only buy ONE,  by golly it needs to last a while.  (I love long books, especially when I’m at work and can’t raid the bookshelf as soon as I finish.) When I caught myself doing this I laughed. Book purchasing on par with examining the supersize price vs. two smaller packages at the grocery, squinting at the price per item/oz label fine print?!?!?!

So that leads me to my next questions for you:


Discuss at will. I’m off book shopping.

News from the News…

Head and shoulders photo of a greying man with a small moustache, wearing a suit, arms folded.

Carlos Fuentes has passed away. This Mexican author is frequently mentioned in the same sentences as Gabriel Garcia Marquez. He wrote during an era when much of Mexico’s literature focused on finding identity, defining a culture, race, civilization that was equally Aztec/Mayan/European, and somehow none of the above. There’s a great transcript of an interview with him HERE. I haven’t read a lot of his work, mainly excerpts, but I HAVE read The Death of Artemio Cruz & Aura. Wow. I’m sure this is not an original idea, but you could do a whole semester comparing/contrasting Artemio with Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying and Light in August. (If you pick up Artemio, reading the wikipedia article about the Mexican Revolution/Civil War would be good. Lots of history not usually covered in our US courses.) ***be warned, Mr. Flores is NOT afraid of strong language. Namely the F*bomb. If this offends you, be aware you were warned***. I found his work to be gripping, occasionally disturbing,  and memorable. excellent stuff. I hate that it took an article about his death to make me remember that I always meant to read more of his stuff. I may do a whole post on him after I’ve researched a little more.

And, on a lighter note, Amazon has tallied up sales and divided them by per-capita population to come up with the biggest cities for reading. In order, they were:

1. Alexandria, Virginia

2. Cambridge, Massachusetts

3. Berkeley, California

4. Ann Arbor, Michigan

5. Boulder, Colorado

6. Miami, Florida

7. Arlington, Virginia

8. Gainesville, Florida

9. Washington, D.C.

10. Salt Lake City, Utah

11. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

12. Knoxville, Tennessee (Woot! Go Knox-vegas!)

13. Seattle, Washington

14. Orlando, Florida

15. Columbia, South Carolina

16. Bellevue, Washington

17. Cincinnati, Ohio

18. St. Louis, Missouri

19. Atlanta, Georgia

20. Richmond, Virginia

Click HERE for the full story on CNN. I agree w/ the Amazon exec that what I like best about the list is that the list covers our WHOLE country, not just big cities, or certain regions. We’re all bookworms.

The Night Kitchen is Closed. Sad day.

First portion of today’s post is re-blogged from:

Where the Wild Things Are May 8, 2012 It’s with great sadness that we read of the recent passing of the incomparable author and illustrator, Maurice Sendak. His “Where the Wild Things Are” and countless other books illustrated our childhoods. Above, Patrick pays tribute to Maurice Sendak and his work as Mooch reads to his “Mutts Children’s Book Club.”

**********end of re-blog*******

Maurice Sendak is beloved, remembered, and adored for his children’s books, even if at one point he was very controversial. (GASP– children’s books with anatomy, no matter how innocent.)

 Click HERE for a bibliography & biography. As a brief summary: There are over 100 books he illustrated (including Newbery books and many very well known books you might not have realized were his work, since authors get top billing), and over 20 he wrote and illustrated. You will probably remember a lot of them. I know I did. It’s worth looking at for the memories and smiles. He has won these awards individually:

Sendak was honored in North Hollywood, California, where an elementary school was named after him.

Can you imagine getting to go to THAT school? coolness. (Readers, if it’s really a craptastic school, please don’t tell me. Let me imagine a school where imaginations are encouraged and there is a story time every day.)

Goodbye Mr. Sendak. Thank you.

Acid Free Pulp

Thou dissembling urchin-snouted haggard!

Thou puking rump-fed canker-blossom!

Thou rank pottle-deep maggot-pie!

Shakespearean Insult Generator


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Sweet Home Alabama

No, not the song. made ya look!

Today’s post could also be titled serendipity. It’s one of those “things.” It all starts with one of modern Lit’s most fabled names: Harper Lee. In case you’ve been out of the loop of 20th century American Fiction/ Southern Fiction, Ms. Lee is the reclusive author of To Kill a Mockingbird.  Other than a few essays and articles, that’s it. No other works. Do not be fooled though. She is the recipient of:

Pulitzer Prize (1961)
Brotherhood Award of the National Conference of Christians and Jews (1961)
Alabama Library Association Award (1961)
Bestsellers Paperback of the Year Award (1962)
Member, National Council on the Arts (1966)
Best Novel of the Century, Library Journal (1999)
Alabama Humanities Award (2002)
ATTY Award, Spector Gadon & Rosen Foundation (2005)
Los Angeles Public Library Literary Award (2005)
Honorary degree, University of Notre Dame (2006)
American Academy of Arts and Letters (2007)
Presidential Medal of Freedom (2007)

Ms. Lee chooses to live quietly, almost never making a public appearance, and by all accounts enjoying life at home and in the company of a small, trusted group of friends. She is in her 80’s.

The next character in today’s tale is Fannie Flagg. A more recent entry into Southern Lit, her most famous novel is Fried Green Tomatoes. She was privileged to cross paths with Ms. Lee in NYC of all places as she was working on that novel. After receiving encouragement from Ms. Lee, she kept on working, revising, and eventually got the work published.  After publication, her editor called with news that there was a new quote for the book jacket:

Flagg’s editor called her one day to say they had received the first quote for book’s dust jacket. She read it to her over the phone: “Idgie Threadegoode is a true original. Huckleberry Finn would have tried to marry her.”

“Well, that’s very generous, loving, and kind,” Flagg remembers saying. “Who is it from, a relative of yours?” No, it was from Harper Lee.

 “She was an angel to me twice,” Flagg said. “Meeting her was the most wonderful thing that ever happened to me, I admire her dignity, her incredible mind, and talent.”

(click HERE for the full article)

So, there is a past between these two authors. There is shared history growing up in Alabama. There is something else.

 Ms. Flagg was announced as the winner of this year’s Harper Lee award, given by the Alabama Writers Symposium.  This award is intended to recognize:

 the lifetime achievement of a writer who was born in Alabama or whose literary career developed in the state. The recipient is selected through a process coordinated by the Alabama Writers’ Forum, a statewide literary arts organization founded in appreciation of Alabama’s strong literary heritage with a commitment to its continuation. The Forum is funded by the Alabama State Council on the Arts.

 The recipient of the annual award must be a writer of national reputation whose work has been recognized by critics, publishers and editors as clearly superior. Evidence of such may be publications in major magazines and literary journals and books published with major houses or reputable smaller literary presses. In addition, the recipient should have received awards, prizes and other accolades from recognized experts in the field of literary arts. Those eligible for consideration are native Alabamians whose literary careers have developed in Alabama or elsewhere or those not originally from Alabama whose literary careers have developed in Alabama. Only living writers are eligible. This annual award includes a $5,000 cash prize and The Clock Tower Bronze by Frank Fleming. This award is funded by George F. Landegger.

Well. As if that weren’t enough, Ms. Lee attended the award ceremony. Can you imagine being nominated for an award given in your home state (and the subject of many of your works) , named after one of your idols, AND getting to receive it while she makes one of her rare appearances?!?! It gets better. Ms. Lee also received a Harper Lee award this year. If you click on the link here, you can read the whole story. It brought a tear to my eye.