Skip to content

Tag: Odyssey award

Booklist: YA Alternate History

June is history month, and while there’s a ton of great historical fiction for teens out there, it’s also a perfect time to start asking “What if?”

What if the American Revolution never happened?

What if the Axis Powers won World War II?

Alternate history books are a great way to explore these questions, and alternate history for teens is becoming increasingly popular. Here are a few books to get you started.


These stories can blend speculative elements with historical facts, which is perfect for prompting discussion about what is truth and what is fiction in the novels discussed. They can also prompt readers to explore more nonfiction about the time period. 


ALA Annual 2014: Odyssey Awards Presentation

alaac14_logoThe seventh annual Odyssey award presentation was held at the ALA Annual Conference on Monday, June 30, 2014.

The Odyssey Awards are the awards for the best audiobook of the year produced for children and/or teens in English and available in the United States.  It is a joint award presented by ALSC and YALSA.

The room was packed full of librarians and audiobook fans.  It was definitely exciting to see all the honorees that were able to make the presentation of awards.  Here is a slightly blurry photo of the awards winners that were present:

Odyssey 2014 winners present

From left to right:

  • Booklist consultant, Rebecca Vnuk
  • 2014 Odyssey Chair, Ellen Rix Spring
  • Daniel Kraus (author of Scowler, 2014 Odyssey Winner)
  • Timothy Federle (author/narrator of Better Nate Than Never, 2014 Odyssey Honor Audiobook)
  • Kirby Heyborne (narrator of Scowler, 2014 Odyssey Winner)
  • Kelly Gildea (producer of Scowler, 2014 Odyssey Winner)
  • Sunil Malhotra (narrator of Eleanor & Park, 2014 Odyssey Honor Audiobook)
  • Rebecca Lowman (narrator of Eleanor & Park, 2014 Odyssey Honor Audiobook) 

Audiobooks for Reluctant Listeners

By RCA Records (Billboard, page 29, 18 November 1972) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
By RCA Records (Billboard, page 29, 18 November 1972) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
June is Audiobook Month!  Many of us have fond memories of being read to as a child, but did you know that you can still be read to?  That is the value of audiobooks! The story comes alive and, with the right narrator, you can hear a story much more differently than you would reading it.  Accents are perfected, exclamations are understood, and even words or names you may not know or have never heard before make sense to you.  This is my second year evaluating audiobooks for YALSA’s Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults committee.  As chair of this year’s committee, I am so excited for all the great audiobook-related things happening this month.  Articles are being written about the importance and resurgence of audiobooks, you can get in “Sync” this summer and download free audios, and the audiobook circulation at my Library sees a nice increase starting in June with many people going on road trips and vacations.

To give you an idea of what makes an audiobook a good listen, here are some of the criteria that gets an audiobook on the Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults selection list:

  • The narration has to expand or compliment the original text.  In other words, when you listen to a narrator tell the story, it comes alive and allows the you to experience the text in a different way.
  • Character voice variation is key!  We must have a sense of who the character is by the different qualities in the voices that the narrator uses.  For example, it is a lot more enjoyable when you are listening to a narrated conversation and can tell which character is talking without the text cues letting you know.  Accents, exclamations, and sound effects also are considered.  If done well, they really make an audiobook amazing!
  • There is also the importance of a match between the text and the narrator.  You know when it is right; your ear picks it up.  The narrator embodies the main character and sometimes even all the characters in the books.
  • The technical production on an audiobook is also a criteria for the Amazing Audiobooks list.  We want to make sure the editing is done well, the sound quality is even, and that there are no issues with extra sounds or mike pickups. Additionally, we do consider the music that you hear at the beginning, end, or in between the tracks–does it match the story?  Is it effective in heightening the story? If it is, then it just adds more quality to the production.

So, where should you start if you have never listened to an audiobook before?  Well, some great awards and lists are put out every year: the Odyssey Award, the Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults annual list, and the Audies are a few places to start.  Below I have compiled some of my favorites, that I think will be a great first listen for all of you who are new to audiobooks and want to give them a try.

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green, read by Jeff Woodman.  Brilliance Audio: 7 hours. (2008 Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults)


Listen Up: Get Ready for the 2014 Odyssey Award!

odyssey award sealWhen awards season rolls around, the main biggies are the most anticipated. Newbery, Caldecott, Printz. Who will win? How many honor books will each committee award? These are all really exciting for me, especially since I became a librarian about two years ago, but the one award I always wait for is the Odyssey Award.

For those of you who don’t know or haven’t heard of this honor, it goes to the best audiobook production of the year. As a big audiobook fan and listener, I’m always looking for the next one to bring with me on my 40-minute commute, or on my morning runs. The Odyssey Award helps me out in a big way. But what makes a great audiobook?


ALA 2013: Odyssey Award Presentation

odyssey award sealEvery time I attend ALA there is one event that sticks out from all the other amazing happenings and goings-on. Three years ago it was the Newbery-Caldecott Awards Banquet. And although it can’t match that event in pomp, the 2013 Odyssey Award Presentation will prove just as memorable.

The Odyssey Award is given to the producer of the best audiobook for young and adults and children that’s available in English. Each year a selection committee made up of YALSA and ALSC (Association for Library Service to Children) members chose a winner along with honor titles they feel are deserving of being named as the best in audiobooks. The Odyssey Award presentation is a chance for the Odyssey Award Committee to present the winner and the honor recipients with their awards and to allow the narrators being honored an opportunity to speak and the audience a chance to hear a selection of the honored audiobooks.


2013 Odyssey Award: Next Listens

odyssey award sealThe Odyssey Award is given to the producer of the best audiobook for young and adults and children available in English. Each year a selection committee made up of YALSA and ALSC (Association for Library Service to Children) members chose a winner along with honor titles they feel are deserving of being named as the best in audiobooks.

This year’s winner, John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, narrated by Kate Rudd and produced by Brilliance Audio, enjoys the company of four honor titles: Artemis Fowl: The Last Guardian, written by Eoin Colfer, narrated by Nathaniel Parker, and produced by Listening Library; Ghost Knight, written by Cornelia Funke, narrated by Elliot Hill, and produced by Listening Library; and Monstrous Beauty, written by Elizabeth Fama, narrated by Katherine Kellgren, and produced by Macmillan Audio. I highly recommend all five titles as they are beautifully produced and excellently narrated.

But then what? What to listen to next after you’ve worked through this year’s Odyssey list? Sure you could listen to previous winners and honors (highly recommended) but after that here are next listens that highlight more great storytelling.


How to Host a YMA Viewing Party

yma-2013-alertWith less than a week to go until the Youth Media Awards (YMAs) are announced, it’s time to get serious about your plans for the morning of Monday, January 28. If you’re lucky enough to be at Midwinter, you can skip the rest of this post: obviously you’ll be at the announcements in person. If, like me, you couldn’t make it to Midwinter, don’t worry! You can still celebrate the biggest day of the year in children’s and YA literature. I’ve got you covered. Here are the basic ingredients for hosting your own YMA viewing party.

Comments closed