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) 

Ellen Rix Spring, this year’s Odyssey Award Committee chair, began the presentation with a short introduction of thanks for her committee’s hard work, and gave us a brief insight on what the committee accomplished last year.

odyssey chair

The committee worked tirelessly through the year to whittle down 550 submissions to just one winner and four honor titles!!!

Below is a snapshot of what happens in a year of an Odyssey committee member.

odyssey fyi

Ellen Rix Spring then began the awards presentation with the four honor books.

2014 Odyssey Honors

First up, Better Nate Than Ever, written and narrated by Tim Federle.

odyssey better nate than ever

For each title, Rix Spring, gave a brief summary about the audiobook and why it was honored.  We were all then treated to an audio clip that exemplified why the audiobook was honored.  The clip that was shared for Better Nate Than Ever, definitely got lots of laughs out of the audience!

We were also treated to a reading by the winning author/narrator, Tim Federle, which you can hear via the video below (sorry all my filming was done on an iPhone, so it is not the best, but it gives you an idea of the treat you get in hearing and seeing the narrators perform in front of your eyes at the presentation of awards).

Chris Lynch, the producer of Better Nate than Ever, and Tim Federle then accepted the award.

The next honor title was Creepy Carrots, written by Aaron Reynolds and narrated by James Naughton.

odyssey creepy carrots

Creepy Carrots is a picture book, and unfortunately the short video supplied by narrator James Naughton would not play at the time of the presentation, but we did get a chance to see it at the end of the presentation.  The audio clip that was provided also produced lots of laughs, and had a very comically haunting style to it. Paul R. Gagne, one of the producers of Creepy Carrots,  was in attendance to accept the award.

The third honor award presented was to Eleanor & Park, written by Rainbow Rowell and narrated by Rebecca Lowman and Sunil Malhotra.

odyssey eleanor & park

For this title we were lucky enough to hear a dual narration performance by Rebecca Lowman (Eleanor) and Sunil Malhotra (Park).  They both gave a compassionate and emotive reading,  that was received with lengthy applause from those of us in attendance. Orli Moscowitz, producer of Eleanor & Park then accepted the award with the narrators.

Finally, the last honor award was presented to Matilda, written by Roald Dahl and narrated by Kate Winslet.

odyssey matilda

The clip that was shared generated a lot of laughs, and it was clear that Winslet’s distinctive voice easily took on the wide cast of characters in this beloved children’s novel.  Dan Zitt, the producer of Matilda, shared a written speech that Kate Winslet sent to be given at the presentation.  Winslet spoke of how much of a joy it was for her to go into the studio everyday and play the cast of characters of Matilda and that she was honored to be asked to bring Dahl’s story to life. Her speech ended with a quote from Roald Dahl, speaking to the importance of books and reading:

So Matilda’s strong young mind continued to grow, nurtured by the voices of all those authors who had sent their books out into the world like ships on the sea. These books gave Matilda a hopeful and comforting message: You are not alone.

 2014 Odyssey Winner

This year’s 2014 winning Odyssey audiobook is Scowler, written by Daniel Kraus and narrated by Kirby Heyborne.

odyssey scowler

This was the moment we were all waiting for: the presentation of the 2014 winning Odyssey audiobook.  Scowler is by no means a book that will generate a lot of laughs.  It is a heavy listen, but is done justice by Heyborne’s amazing narration.  If nothing else, the absolute silence during the haunting clip that was played exemplifies the excellence of this production.  Daniel Kraus was first to speak, and he gave much thanks but also talked about how hard it was to write Scowler; he even abandoned the book for some time.  Following Daniel Kraus,  the producer, Kelly Gildea, gave a beautiful speech of thanks, which you can listen to below:

Last up was Kirby Heyborne, who surprisingly got a little emotional at the podium, but after Gildea’s speech you can understand why.  You can listen to his speech and narration performance in the video below.  Once again, when Heyborne narrated the character of Scowler, you could hear a pin drop– and what a performance it was to see in person!

Finally, you may have heard buzz about Kiby Heyborne’s rap for librarians called, “Ain’t Nobody Change the World Like a Librarian”.  Check out my recording below:

You can see a better recording from Random House Audio’s YouTube channel below:

–Colleen Seisser, currently reading Me Before You by Jojo Moyes


4 thoughts on “ALA Annual 2014: Odyssey Awards Presentation”

    1. Yay! Thanks Danette! It was pretty awesome, definitely something I will never forget!!

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