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Introducing Medal on My Mind, a new blog about Stonewall Book Award contenders

Medal on my MindWe’re always happy to have guest posts here at Teen Librarian Toolbox, especially when they can help boost projects we find really cool. Today the fine folks from Medal on My Mind, a new blog dedicated to examining books that are eligible to win Stonewall Awards, join us to tell us more about their work.


Q: What is Medal on My Mind, anyway?

Medal on My Mind is a mock award blog speculating the potential results of the Stonewall Book Award – Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children’s & Young Adult Literature Award. In anticipation of this award, which honors books about LGBTQIA+ experience, we’re taking a close look at eligible titles and assessing them the way members of the award committee might. We write long-form considerations of individual books, interspersed with the occasional round-up post that collects titles by genre, format, identity, etc. We’ll be updating on a more or less weekly basis until the award is announced at ALA Midwinter in February 2018.


Q: Who’s running these shenanigans?

We’re a small team of four queer librarians: Kazia Berkley-Cramer, Alec Chunn, Stacy Collins, Dani Crickman. (Alec, who originated the project, isn’t active on the blog this year, since he’s currently serving on the Rainbow Books List Committee.) Alec, Dani, and Kazia all work in children’s/teen services at libraries, while Stacy works as a subject librarian in children’s literature. Each of us works with children’s and YA literature in some other capacity, too, as reviewers, booksellers, and teachers.


Q: Why did you want to start MoMM?

We’d been paying attention to the other mock ALA award blogs that are well-known in our field. We couldn’t help but notice that the “general” awards (Caldecott, Newbery, Printz) are the ones our field regards most highly and the ones that get the most hype. When Alec suggested creating a blog for the Stonewall Book Award, we were all enthusiastic about the opportunity to draw attention to the growing numbers of LGBTQIA+ books being published for children and teens.


gentlemansQ: What are some books you’ve talked about already, and what are some you’re looking forward to getting to?

K – I’ve waxed on about my love for Julie Murphy’s (initially controversial) Ramona Blue, and Dani and I co-wrote a post about some truly outstanding graphic novels! I’ve also just written about Mackenzi Lee’s heartbreaking and hilarious The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, hands-down one of the funniest and surprisingly deep books I’ve read this year.


S – At this point, I’ve written about Wild Beauty, the gorgeous magical realism novel from Anna-Marie McLemore (just out this month!). I’m really looking forward to writing about AdriAnne Strickland and Michael Miller’s Shadow Run and April Daniels’ Dreadnought. Both speculative fiction, both with a trans/genderfluid character, but a difference in where that character sits in the narrative.


D – So far, I’ve written about Misa Sugiura’s It’s Not Like It’s a Secret, a debut novel with an adorable interracial lesbian love story that I feel hasn’t been getting the attention it deserves, and Adam Silvera’s History Is All You Left Me and They Both Die at the End. I’m looking forward to writing about Rebecca Podos’s Like Water and E. K. Johnston’s That Inevitable Victorian Thing.


wild beautyQ: Are there books you really want to win?

D – I’ve got my heart set on Wild Beauty. I love it for all the reasons Stacy illuminates in her post about it, and most especially for how it employs a premise that feels so perfect for magical realism–five cousins in love with the same person—to show that women can be queer in so many varied ways.

K – I haven’t yet had the chance to read Wild Beauty, so currently my vote goes hands-down to Ramona Blue!

S – WILD BEAUTY! Ramona Blue and Gentleman’s Guide are close seconds for me too.


Q: What do you think about LGBTQIA+ representation in children’s and YA books this year?

Several great books have come on the scene this year, and the intersection of excellent writing craft with full, nuanced representation is getting stronger every year. Our acronym is…big, with many identities featured, intersecting, and sometimes barely captured (if at all) among its letters. Our publishing world (like the rest of the world) has begun to give some attention and space (both badly needed) to uplift certain parts of that acronym. We’re looking forward to both broader and deeper representation as we move forward.


Q: What do you hope to see published in the future?

So much! More books by and about queer PoC/Native people. More books by and about trans and nonbinary people, intersex people, ace/aro people. More books by and about queer disabled people. More picturebooks, beginning readers, transitional readers, and middle grade with LGBTQIA+ representation. More queer characters in all the genres.


Q: Do you cover the Lambda awards as well?

Nope! While we might reference the Lammies or do a surprise one-off post about them, our focus here is just on the children’s/teen division of the Stonewall!


Q: With the current conversations around #ownvoices narratives and reviewing, do you think MoMM fills a void?

Yes, but it’s complicated! We definitely fill a noticeable void in terms of award blogs and discussion, which we’ve always found disappointingly absent. But in terms of #ownvoices reviewing, we stand on the shoulders of folks like Vee S. and Malinda Lo, who have been working tirelessly to make space for public discussion around queer children’s and teen literature long before us. We’re excited to be bridging the gap between these two spaces, although this, too, is complicated! Our identities as queer people are vital to the project. Drawing on our own experiences and our accumulated knowledge to talk about books–and in doing so, making more evident that this is what anyone who talks about books professionally does–is an important piece of our work. However, we’re aware of all the positions we don’t occupy and the gaps that exist in what we know. Under an umbrella as big as LGBTQIA+, where so many other identities intersect, our claim to #ownvoices is often tenuous, at best. It’s a fallible standard, but it’s a starting point, and one we’re glad to be making those steps forward.


Q: Who can join the conversation?
Anyone, including you! We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments sections of our posts. If you’ve served on the Stonewall or you have a lot to say about a title from this year, let us know and we can talk about guest post possibilities.