#ALAAC18 Recap: Edwards Award Brunch

At ALA annual, Angela Johnson accepted the 2018 Margaret A. Edwards Award. The Edwards Award, established in 1988, honors an author, as well as a specific body of their work, for significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature. For more information about the award and past recipients, see the YALSA website and the Teen Book Finder App.

After the audience consumed many, many tiny adorable pastries, Angela Johnson gave a speech highlighting stories from her extensive career as a writer.

Some stories were hilarious – she talked about being on tour and getting lost in Iowa, which ended with her getting free pie from a trucker. She also talked about an early school visit, when she showed up, the school staff didn’t know who she was, and the librarian seemed to no longer work there (she noted that she didn’t ask too many questions about this.) But her visit ended up being facilitated by a fourth grader who knew everything about the library–including where to find a check to pay for the visit.

In another very moving story, Angela talked about a signing at a store where no one showed up. Until the end. A very young girl who, according to the bookstore, had read all of her books, came in. She hugged Angela and cried and said nothing.

Some of Angela Johnson’s titles are listed below.

Devastated by the loss of a second father, thirteen-year-old Bird follows her stepfather from Cleveland to Alabama in hopes of convincing him to come home, and along the way helps two boys cope with their difficulties.

A Certain October
After surviving a train accident that killed her friend, Scotty must reevaluate her life and find a way to forgive herself.

The First Part Last
Johnson’s novel is an extraordinary work in which the realities of fatherhood come slowly but surely to 16 year-old Bobby after the birth of his daughter.

At fourteen, Marley knows she has Momma’s hands and Pops’s love for ice cream, that her brother doesn’t get on her nerves too much, and that Uncle Jack is a big mystery. But doesn’t know the truth. And when the truth comes down with the rain one stormy summer afternoon, it changes everything.All of a sudden, Marley doesn’t know who she is anymore and can only turn to the family she no longer trusts to find out. Truth often brings change. Sometimes that change is for the good. Sometimes it isn’t.

Looking for Red
Twelve-year-old Mike — short for Michaela — loves the ocean. The sights, sounds, and smells of her coastal home are embedded in her very soul. But Michaela loves her brother, Red, even more. Then one day Red disappears. One minute he’s there, the next…gone. No warning. No time to prepare. And Mike must come to terms with that loss or risk never finding comfort in what remains of the life she and her brother once shared.

Sweet, Hereafter
Shoogy left home with all her jeans still in the washer because she couldn’t think of a reason to stay. She’s not sure where she belongs, until she meets Curtis. Curtis knows for certain where he does not want to be and that’s to be back in the army. He is happy to be in Ohio, where it is quiet and he can spend time with Shoogy. But when Curtis gets orders to return to Iraq, will belonging with each other be enough to keep Shoogy and Curtis together?

Toning the Sweep
Three generations of African American women, each holding on to a separate truth. Their story — encompassing racism and murder as well as the family commonplaces that make a life — is one that readers will never forget.