Following the fabulous YALSA Coffee Klatch that Lalitha Nataraj wrote about, several of my tablemates and I needed to get the 2014 Alex Awards presentation. The trek, like the layout of the Vegas strip, seemed walkable and relatively close by on paper, but ended up being at the very end of the convention center. Thankfully, all the caffeine that we had just consumed while meeting fabulous YA authors allowed us to powerwalk and arrive on time for the session.
Danielle Dreger-Babbitt, chair of the 2014 Alex Awards committee, got things started by reminding the audience of how the Alex Awards were first given out in 1998, became an official ALA award in 2002, and honor the work of Margaret A. Edwards, who was called â€œAlexâ€ by her friends. Book jackets of the ten winning titles were shown along with short descriptions.
Typically, three to four winning authors attend the award presentation at ALA Annual. This year, only one author was able to make it â€“ John Searles, who won for his book Help for the Haunted. As John began his presentation, he joked that when he heard there were nine other winning authors he killed them all and buried them in the backyard (a nice tip of the hat to 2014 winner The Death of Bees by Lisa O’Donnell).
What followed was a truly delightful, heartfelt presentation that included home movies (cinematic proof that from an early age John wanted to be an author as the super 8 pans his childhood living room and we see him writing away in a mini steno pad); a picture from high school (with John writing, of course); a scan of a truly scathing rejection note for an early manuscript submission, and photos of John’s hometown library (where he has been immortalized on a quilt featuring local authors).