Here’s an update to the’  YALSA podcast of the wonderful celebration of the first Odyssey Award for Excellence in Audiobook Production during ALA Annual in Anaheim. At the end of the Booklist Books for Youth Forum, we all watched a video appearance by Jim Dale, narrator of the Harry Potter audiobooks. Dale shares some thoughts about recording Harry Potter, honors the Potter production team, and gives special thanks to the Odyssey Award committee: Jerene D. Battisti, Francisca Goldsmith, Natalie Hoyle, Sharon B. Grover, Teri S. Lesesne, Merri Lindgren, Connie C. Rockman, Sylvia Vardell, Sue-Ellen Beauregard.

Here’s the link to that video – enjoy your visit to Dale’s living room that looks straight out of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry!

Mary Burkey, Chair 2008 Odyssey Award committee

One of the highlights of the 2008 American Library Association’s Annual Conference was theMargaret Edwards Award ceremony, where Orson Scott Card was honored for his lifetime contribution to writing for teens for his novels “Ender’s Game” and “Ender’s Shadow.”What a memorable and moving lecture – be sure to read Card’s address in the upcoming Fall issue of YALS !

If you were in the audience, you heard Card recommend his favorite book: The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield. But more importantly, when Card spoke about reading The Thirteenth Tale, he described how he remained in his car to hear the story continue. Yes, that’s right – Orson Scott Card read the book by listening. To find out more about Card’s reaction to the audiobook, read his blog post here. Read More →

Digitization is changing the world of literature daily. Each day I add another bookmark to a growing file of articles on topics ranging from Japan’s love of cell phone novels (in the London Times & and the NY Times) to the removal of piracy protection on audiobooks (in the NY Times & Cory Doctorow’s take on Boing-Boing.) Authors & publishers are embracing change by posting free content online, such as Neil Gaiman’s story “A Study in Emerald” available as both eBook & audiobook (read by Gaiman) on HarperCollins’ website.

These changes have prompted many to ponder the future of the book. Random House UK’s C.E.O. Gail Rebuck presented a brilliant essay as the Stationers’ Company Annual Lecture on the evening of March 10th. The address, titled “New Chapter or Last Page? Publishing Books in a Digital Age,” was made to the members of a Guild formed in 1403 for the publishing industry, a fitting group to contemplate the message. Read the whole speech here. I believe this to be a must-read for all who value the literary past and who look to the future of publishing.

Mary Burkey

Hello all!

The Odyssey Award for Audiobook Excellence held its first meetings during the recent ALA conference in DC. As chair of the committee, I want everyone to know about this exciting new youth award, a joint project of both ALSC & YALSA, recognizing the best in audiobooks created for listeners ages birth to eighteen. Next January, one Odyssey winner and possible honors will be named along with the Newbery, Caldecott, Sibert, and Printz Awards. We believe it is essential for ALSC and YALSA to provide the same level of support for this nonprint format that they have historically provided for print materials, by creating an annual award for the best audiobooks in the field. We believe that by doing so, ALSC and YALSA can not only assist their members to better serve their library patrons, but also raise the profile and standards of audiobooks by having those honored serve as models toward which all audio producers can aspire.

Please help us publicize the new award, and do your part by sending me any field nominations for titles that you feel are worthy of this honor. As a first-year committee, we do not have an official form, so please include the following information: Author, Producer, Copyright Date, Price, ISBN, and brief annotation with your rationale for nominating. The title must be released for children or young adults (birth-18) between Oct 1, 2006 & Oct. 1, 2007 and be distributed in the United States, allowing for English-language submissions produced in other countries. Field nominations must be seconded by a committee member. Learn more about the Odyssey Award criteria here:

Need more information about audiobooks? Listen to the podcast of a session at ALA’s Annual Meeting titled “Celebrating Excellence in Audiobooks for Children and Young Adults” featuring Bruce Coville, Judy Blume, John Green, and Jack Gantos sharing their experiences with audiobooks. You’ll get great ideas on promoting audiobooks, as well as some fascinating anecdotes & good laughs. Here’s the link:

And here’s a great example of audiobooks reaching mainstream acceptance: Wendy’s adds audiobooks to kids’ meals. Read the full article at I plan to write Wendy’s and thank them for including children’s literature audiobooks as a healthy choice in their kid’s meals. The next time you are grabbing a bite on the go, stop at Wendy’s and get a new, free, audiobook for your collection!

Happy Listening!

Mary Burkey, chair
2008 Odyssey Award Committee