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Tag: Susan Goldman Rubin

The 2012 Sydney Taylor Book Awards for Older Readers and Teen Readers

The Sydney Taylor Book Award honors new books for children and teens that exemplify the highest literary standards while authentically portraying the Jewish experience. The award memorializes Sydney Taylor, author of the classic All-of-a-Kind Family series. Presented by the Association of Jewish Libraries since 1968, the award encourages the publication and widespread use of quality Judaic literature. The winners will receive their awards at the Association of Jewish Libraries convention in Pasadena, California this June.

This year, the recipient of the gold medal in the Sydney Taylor Book Award’s Older Readers Category is Susan Goldman Rubin for Music Was It: Young Leonard Bernstein [a 2012 YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults finalist –ed.], published by Charlesbridge Publishing. Music Was It shares the inspiring story of the young musician and his commitment to succeed in spite of his family’s opposition. Through hard work, determination and a spirit that never quit, Bernstein’s dream is realized as he takes the stage as a conductor at Carnegie Hall. Numerous photos introduce readers to Bernstein and the important people in his life. In today’s fast-paced world of immediate gratification, young people think stardom and celebrity come easy and may undervalue the importance of education, experience, and perseverance. Bernstein’s early journey, filled with personal and professional disappointments as well as successes, underscores the notion that the road to success and fame is not easy or immediate. Goldman Rubin does an exquisite job of bringing Bernstein’s world to life and making his story relevant for today’s readers. Yes, times change and technology advances, but the passion of a creative soul is timeless. From a resource perspective, teachers and librarians will cheer the impeccable research and documentation provided.


Highlights from the Morris and Nonfiction Awards reception

Every year librarians, teachers, and avid readers sit on the edge of their seats for the big announcement made on the Monday of the American Libraries Association’s Midwinter Conference. And every year, the announcements are met with some surprise, some confirmation, some discussion, and a ton of excitement. This year was no different, and this same enthusiasm obviously carried over into YALSA’s Morris Award and Excellence in Non-Fiction Award Reception.

This year’s William C. Morris Award—which is given to a debut book published for teens by a first-time author—was given to John Corey Whaley for his book Where Things Come Back. Whaley garnered the coveted Printz Award for this title, as well.

Four other books were honored as finalists including Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson, Paper Covers Rock by Jenny Hubbard, Under the Mesquite by Guadalupe Garcia McCall, and Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys.

Via a video recording, Rae Carson responded to her newly awarded honor. She noted that this was probably “the coolest thing that has ever happened to me.” She gave shout outs to many of the other finalists saying that they were “awesome people!” Her plans overall were to celebrate with “an egregiously expensive bottle of champagne.” She ended her video with a special appearance by her cat, “Rage,” otherwise known as angry kitty, which was both funny and lighthearted.

Probably one of the most emotional acceptance speeches of the afternoon was given by finalist Guadalupe Garcia McCall.

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Youth Media Awards wrap-up

Monday was a big, big day for young adult literature. After months of speculation, Mock Printz committees, posts about the finalists for the William C. Morris and Excellence in Nonfiction Awards, and tons and tons and tons of reading by dedicated committee members, the ALA’s Youth Media Awards were announced at the Midwinter Conference in Dallas.

One of my favorite things about being a young adult librarian is the incredible sense of community that’s grown up about libraries and young adult literature, and the YMAs were a perfect example. I wasn’t able to be in Dallas this year, but luckily for me and other librarians, publishers, and YA and children’s lit fans around the world, the announcements were streamed live (in fact, you can watch the archived announcements and videos by some of the honored authors and illustrators on the YMA’s YouTube Channel).

I watched the announcements in one window and had Twitter up in another. There was plenty of buzz on Twitter–so much so that #alayma was trending for more than an hour! Lots of author names and book titles also trended following the announcement of each award. If you haven’t had the chance before, I highly recommend watching the announcements live if you can. It’s so great to hear the audience erupt in cheers when the winners are announced, and if you’re anything like me, you might find yourself cheering along. Being a reader of and writer for the Hub made this year’s awards especially fun for me. I’d read four of the five Morris finalists (two of which won other awards–including the Printz!), something which I might not have done were it not for The Hub.

Here’s the complete list of all the awards given in young adult literature. The name of each award will link to the award’s page on the ALA website, where you can learn about the history and see a complete list of winners. If The Hub did any coverage of a book before its big win, I’ve linked to that too. Enjoy!


An Interview With Susan Goldman Rubin — Author of “Music Was IT”

Young Lenard Bernstein, being a boss.

Susan Goldman Rubin has written several nonfiction books for young people. Her latest work, Music Was IT: Young  Leonard Bernstein, has been nominated for the 2012 YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction. For an in-depth review of the book, take a look at Mark Flowers’ post from his YALSA Nonfiction series. This post will give you a look behind the scenes at the creation of this biography of an American legend.

Music Was It covers Leonard Bernstein’s early life, beginning in childhood and ending at his Carnegie Hall debut. Why did you choose this focus for your book, as opposed to covering Lenny as a famous, prolific, American institution?

I thought that the story of Lenny’s struggle as a teenager and young adult  to pursue his dream of becoming a professional musician despite his father’s plans for him to go into the family business would be more meaningful to young people. The conflict between doing what you want to do and following a parent’s wishes is  a universal theme.  And I thought that if readers didn’t know who Lenny was, they might relate to the arc of the story and be drawn into listening to his music. Because introducing readers to the joy of hearing Lenny’s music as performer, conductor and composer was the point of the book. But I did want readers to know something about his  prolific career so we included information in an epilogue, a timeline and a section titled “Lenny’s Music.”

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YALSA Nonfiction, Part Three: Music Was IT

Between now and the announcement of the winner on January 23, I’m taking a closer look at the five finalists for the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction. Check out part one, on Wheels of Change by Sue Macy, and part two on The Notorious Benedict ArnoldToday I’ll look at Music Was IT: Young Leonard Bernstein by Susan Goldman Rubin.

Generally speaking, I’m not a fan of biographies that focus on the subject’s childhood. I usually find that even when a famous person’s childhood was interesting, it doesn’t relate very much to their later career (i.e., the reasons I’m interested in the person). So, although I happen to be a big fan of Leonard Berstein, I wasn’t immediately excited about reading a book about the “young Leonard Bernstein” as the subtitle puts it. Fortunately for me, the main title is dead on: from a very early age, “music was it” for Lenny (as he was known in childhood). The book, therefore, deals almost exclusively with Lenny’s passion for music, his early virtuosity at the piano, his various apprenticeships and more. Also fortunately, the story of the young Lenny has a very clear culmination to which the entire narrative points: his debut as a conductor at the New York Philharmonic at the unprecedentedly young age of 25.

This book is filled with personal recollections of all those who knew Bernstein (including several exclusive interviews by Rubin), and includes a wealth of primary documents–inscribed photos from Bernstein’s personal collection, school report cards, a completed music theory exam, and much more. The prose is also excellent, and I was especially impressed by Rubin’s careful explanations of references (musical or otherwise) made by sources that might be above the heads of her readers.