Friday, July 4, 2008

Odyssey Award Celebration at ALA Anaheim

What a wonderful night! The Booklist Magazine Books for Youth Forum at the American Library Association conference in Anaheim celebrated the very first Odyssey Award for Excellence in Audiobook Production. Stephanie Zvirin welcomed the standing-room-only audience of 500 or so with the bittersweet announcement that this was her last Forum, as she will be leaving her post as Booklist's Books for Youth Editor after more than 30 years. Sue-Ellen Beauregard, Booklist's Media Editor, served as the event moderator, introducing author & Full Cast Audio's Bruce Coville whose Homeric words proved to be the perfect symbolic Champagne-bottle-smash to set the Odyssey off on its voyage. His ritual shedding of the jacket is now an entrenched part of the finest ALA gala events - as was echoed by Lynn Rutan at the 2008 Printz Award ceremony. Next, I had the honor to thank the awesome members of the Best. Committee. Ever. Those wonderful women made my year as chair of the Odyssey Award the best year ever!

The fantastic ALSC staff coordinated the creation of the Odyssey Honor plaques (equal to the Newbery & Caldecott). I had the privilege to present the Honor recognition to Listen & Live Audio for Bloody Jack: Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary 'Jacky' Faber, Ship's Boy; Weston Woods for Dooby Dooby Moo; Listening Library for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows; HarperChildren's Audio for Skulduggery Pleasant; and Listening Library for Treasure Island.

The highlight of the evening was the standing ovation for 2008 Odyssey Award winner Arnie Cardillo of Live Oak Media as he took the stage to accept the beautiful gold medal for his production of Jazz. He spoke to the audience about the amazing collaboration between author Walter Dean Myers, illustrator Christopher Myers, and the 15-member Live Oak production team that worked for five months to create the 42-minute readalong audiobook. The perfect end to the program were the witty & warm remarks and mesmerizing readings from audiobook narrator extraordinaire Simon Vance, recently honored with the title "Voice of Choice" by Booklist Magazine. Who knew that this was his very first public speaking appearance after over 400 audiobooks & stage, screen, and TV acting career!?! The final touch was an appearance by Harry Potter narrator Jim Dale via recorded DVD, who elicited fan-girl squeals from Odyssey committee members when he gave them his special thanks. When we looked out from the stage and saw Newbery-winning authors sitting on the floor throughout the night, we knew this was a night to remember!

I recorded the event, which will soon be posted as a podcast on the YALSA website. Hopefully, we will also post Jim Dale's video. I'll post links here as soon as possible. I was too busy to take pictures so thanks to goreygirl72 at for the above image! I will try gather some other pictures & post later.

I'll leave you with this great review of Jazz from the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram. It declares that Jazz is the best audiobook for Friday night wind-down with the family and includes the great suggestion "Let kids hear the poems and page through illustrations while parents cook dinner and relax with a cocktail."

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