California Young Reader Medal Awards Banquet

Earlier this month, I travelled to Pasadena to receive the 2011 California Young Reader Medal. As with any reader’s choice award, it was a great honour. That’s because the medal isn’t awarded by a jury; it’s voted on by readers all across the state.

Also in attendance were Cynthia Kadohota, whose book Cracker won in the middle school category, and fellow Canadian, Yvonne Prinz, whose book Vinyl Princess won the John and Patricia Beatty Award. It was great to meet them both, and each gave rousing acceptance speeches—especially Cynthia, who brought many of us to tears with the story of one of the dogs that inspired her book.

Yvonne Prinz also happens to run the famous Amoeba Records in L.A. with her husband. Earlier that same day, I had stopped into the store, been duly impressed, and yet had no idea I’d later meet the proprietor. Small world.

For me, one highlight of the night was the centrepiece at our table—a Zorgamazoo tinker toy sculpture! Here’s a pic, snapped while I was delivering my acceptance speech:

Zorgamazoo: The Mobile (featuring the chemical symbol for “Enchantium Gas” up top—cute).

Huge thanks to Lia Ladas, Myleen DeJesus, Brenna (the young girl who wrote and delivered my introduction), the California Library Association, and everyone involved in the awards. Finally, my biggest thanks of all goes to the book lovers and avid readers of California—who voted for Zorgamazoo!

Here’s the full list of the winners in each category:

Primary Martina the Beautiful Cockroach: A Cuban Folktale by Carmen Agra Deedy. Illustrated by Michael Austin. Peachtree Publications, 2008.
Intermediate Zorgamazoo by Robert Paul Weston. Razorbill, 2008.
Middle School Cracker: The Best Dog in Vietnam by Cynthia Kadohota.  Atheneum, 2007.
Young Adult The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.  Scholastic Press, 2008.
Picture Books for Older Readers John, Paul, George, and Ben by Lane Smith.  Hyperion Books, 2006.
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