Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Why I can't review YA books for six months

It's been killing me not to tell you but I am one of the judges for the Booktrust Teenage Book Prize this year. In a funny kind of way, I have become Neil Gaiman. He won last year's prize with The Graveyard Book (Bloomsbury) and it's traditional (as on the Guardian Award) to invite one year's winner to be next year's judge. But since the great Neil lives in the USA, this is not practical (think of the expenses claims for attending judges' meetings) so I'm deeply flattered that they have asked me to stand in.

BUT! Firstly I have to read and absolutely ginormous number of titles before I go on holiday mid-June (yes I know that's in three and a half weeks - eek! But I have been reading for weeks; it took rather a long time for the judges to be announced). Worse, for me is that my hands are tied when it comes to blogging about individual YA titles if they are on the list submitted by publishers.

And there are books I'm dying to talk about.

The Chair of the judges is Tony Bradman and the other judges are journalist Barbara Ellen, librarian Barbara Band and a teenager Claudia Freemantle. Once we have a shortlist we will be joined by four more teenage judges and I shall find all their views most interesting. I have a hunch there will be a core of titles both age groups enjoy but another tranche that is liked more by one lot than the other.

And the agony is I won't be able to say a word about it! Ah well, after November 1st I'll be free to talk about YA fiction as much as I like.

Meanwhile I'll have to try to look a lot more like this chap on the right. It's going to be a tough call. I just hope some of his stardust rubs off on me. (See what I did there?)

Just hope it's not the graveyard slot.

13 comments:

Lucy Coats said...

You will be a brilliant stand-in for Mr Gaiman--and I'm sure he'll be cheering you on from Stateside. I don't know what it's going to do to your 'extra luggage' weight costs on holiday though if you have to take suitcases full of books. Would this be the time to get an i-pad and download them all?

Katherine Langrish said...

Quite right, Lucy - the best excuse ever to get an i-pad. (Beats Kindle hollow, from what I hear.) Mary, what exciting news! Besides, you are far more glamorous than that Mr Gaiman.

Marjorie said...

Sounds fun (if hard work!) I think you should probably ensure you dress in black, and cultivate truly Crazy Hair, in order properly to channel Neil..

Mary Hoffman's Newsletter said...

Marjorie, I think I can do both of those. Do not think I can persuade husband to do an Amanda Palmer though! And yes, Kath and Lucy I tried to swing an iPad or at least a Kindle from Booktrust and it might happen in future years but not in time to help me!

bookwitch said...

Thought you looked familiar! You can just blog about classics instead. Always assuming you have time to blog.

Leslie Wilson said...

Are you coming to Charney, Mary? We can judge there how well the transformation is progressing

Mary Hoffman's Newsletter said...

I am indeed, Leslie! Will pack entirely black clothes and fright wig.

Neil said...

I'm astonishingly grateful. Let me know if you need a black leather jacket.

Mary Hoffman's Newsletter said...

My pleasure Neil. Wouldn't mind your black jacket ...

adele said...

And I will see you in Manchester just before Charney and will be able to judge for myself how Gaiman like you're looking. I went to an event at Waterstone's Deansgate to hear him when Coraline first came out and was mightily struck by the audience. On a hot hot day they were all in black and lots had woolly hats on! Make of that what you wil....

adele said...

Sorry about missing l....I can't leave it dangling like that. Also apologies for missed hyphen on Gaiman-like! Pedantic, moi??

Mary Hoffman's Newsletter said...

And I can see how you are now sylph-like!

I am trying. Can't have an overweight Neil Gaiman, can we?

Katherine Roberts said...

Ah, NOW I understand why publishers are having trouble seeing me as a teenage author - I don't wear enough black!