Moonbeams, Festivals and Review Direct

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Moonbeams, Festivals and Review Direct

Kim Hornyak
NOVEMBER 2018

Having just wrapped up another (9th!) successful Moonbeam Awards year and
Children's Book Festival - and, as the awards board is currently meeting to
discuss 10th anniversary plans (they are literally meeting as I'm writing,
and
the conversation breaking out of the confines of the conference room is
quite
animated) - we thought it a particularly relevant time to discuss the
incarnation of the Moonbeam Awards, and how it is a boon to children's book
publishers, both corporate and independent, as well as being helpful to
educators, independent bookstores and librarians alike as they seek to fill
their bookshelves with the best of the best.

This month's Review Direct  [1] [2]selections feature children's titles,
but
also adult fiction, biography, business, cookbooks, poetry, religion and
spirituality, and family and relationships. There is pretty much something
for
everyone!

THE STORY OF THE MOONBEAM AWARDS

        By Amy Shamroe

        _"Celebrating youthful curiosity, discovery and learning through books and
reading." _- MOONBEAM AWARDS MOTTO

        Each year in January, booksellers and those in publishing note and
celebrate
the finest in children's books. In 1922, the American Library Association
began
recognizing the contribution children's literature makes to society. The
Newberry Awards were first, acknowledging the finest written stories. In
1938,
the Caldecott Awards were created to honor children's picture book. They
are two
of the most recognizable book awards in the world, and certainly for kids'
books. Most booksellers and librarians will probably agree that these
awards are
of great import to those who try to encourage literacy.

        All that having been said, there are major problems with the system.

        As the world of publishing has changed, the field for these awards has
been
uneven to say the least. A look at the list of winners and honorees for the
last
couple decades, there is one commonality. All have been backed by one of
the
major publishing houses. Now, take a walk through the children's section of
your
local bookstore (especially if you are lucky enough to have a independent
store
in your area still). There are all kinds of regional and small presses
producing
beautiful picture books and creative fiction. These books are expected to
compete for two awards with the likes of Penguin and HarperCollins and
their
publicity departments. This is not to say they do not produce wonderful
books
worthy of praise, but it is not a fair fight.  

        That brings up another problem. There are only two awards. Elitism
certainly
has its place in the world, creating a firm line between quality and
mediocre.
Times have changed, though. While strolling through the children's section,
look
at all the different genres of books. There is fiction and non-fiction in
picture books and chapter books. There are hundreds of quality educational
activity books and beginning readers. Where is the recognition for these
books?

        Here in lies the inspiration for the Moonbeam Children's Books Awards.

 After years of running the Independent Publisher Book Awards, the volume
of
children's books was more than obvious to the board. It was not a leap to
conceive of an awards program that would celebrate the quality and variety
of
books that exist in today's market.

        It was decided, unlike the Independent Publisher Awards, the Moonbeam
Awards
would be open to all publishers - corporate and independent. This was to
ensure
that the best available would be able to compete on a level field. More
specific
categories and a criteria that factors in originality to presentation
allows for
a different interpretation than other awards programs. There is also a bit
of
elitism present here that prevents the committees from awarding a slew of
winners and honorees for a consideration fee or with the intention of
marketing
to as many people as possible. All finalists either place gold, silver or
bronze, or are carefully selected for quality. The results to date seem to
indicate the ideal is a reality. There have been independently published
winners
as well as winners represented by the likes of Simon font-family: verdana,
geneva;">There is an even more important point to all of this, though.
Librarians and educators are fighting every day to keep our youth reading
in the
face of an abundance of television and video games. Finding the right book
or
series to spark or feed curiosity and make reading a thrill and not a chore
is
imperative. They need quality choices and respectable sources for new
ideas. The
world of literature offers something for everyone, and that includes
children.
Let's help people realize this.

----------------------------------------

        Amy Shamroe is the Director of the Traverse City Children's Festival and
Book
Awards Coordinator with Jenkins Group, Inc.

Kim Hornyak is the Director of Book Marketing with Jenkins Group, and a
blogger
featuring GRANNY SHORTS: QUIPS AND QUOTES FROM THE OTHER SIDE OF THE HILL
[3]

DON\'T FORGET TO CHECK OUT THIS MONTH\'S REVIEW DIRECT TITLES HERE! [4]

        Please contact me with any questions or comments!

Kim Hornyak, Jenkins Group, Inc., [hidden email] [5],
231.933.0445,
ext 1013

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