Snow Wildsmith is a Youth Services Librarian and a judge in the Graphic Novel category. These judges are working double duty as they will be awarding two prizes--one for Graphic Novels intended for the 12 and under crowd, and one for Graphic Novels for teens. Snow blogs at Kiddie Lit and says she's "a geek who likes comic books and Jane Austen and sci-fi TV shows and classical music." We wanted to get to know Snow better, so we sent her a few questions.
A: Since February 2006.
Q: Why do you blog?
A: I'm (slowly) working my way through all of the Newbery Medal winners and honors, the Caldecott Medal winners and honors, the Printz Award winners and honors, the Geisel Award winners and honors, and the Coretta Scott King winners and honors, as well as the National Book Award winners and finalists in the Young People's Literature category from 1996-2006 and the titles on the 2003-2007 Best Books for Young Adults and Notable Children's Books lists. Why? Because I want to improve my knowledge of the backbones of children's/teen literature. I started the blog because it offered a good way to organize my work, as well as share it with others, the goal of every librarian. After I read a title from my list I give a brief review and offer other titles readers might enjoy if they liked the title I'm writing about.
Q: What is it about kidlit that you love most?
A: The sense of hope. Adult mainstream novels often seem very depressing to me. Even when life is very hard, the characters in kids and teen lit make do. They survive and, more importantly, their hope for something better survives.
Q: Which is your favorite book that didn't make the shortlist?
A: I'm very happy with the titles we have to choose from in the Graphic Novel section. There are some fine books and it's going to be hard to pick just one winner for each age range. However, I do wish there had been some manga represented on the short lists. There were two OEL (original English language) mangas, but there are some very good Japanese titles being published in America these days and I'd hate to see them be ignored simply because they're printed "backwards" or because adults don't understand them or appreciate them as much as kids and teens do.
Q: Do you and your kids ever disagree on reading choices?
A: I don't have any kids of my own, but my husband definitely doesn't share my reading tastes. He's an engineer, so he prefers nonfiction or thrillers, though I did talk him into Harry Potter and he enjoyed that. I have yet to convince him that I would die without the ever growing stack of graphic novels in my house, though!
Q: If you could have a fictional character visit you for a day, who would it be and how would you spend the time together?
A: Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice. I'm not that good at meeting new people, but she seems like she'd be easy to talk to and I enjoy long walks also.
Snow structures her reviews in an organized, useful fashion. She shares her thoughts on each book, tells us who the intended reader is, and recommends other like titles. In her review of Firebirds: an anthology of original fantasy and science fiction (edited by Sharyn November), for example, she writes:
- "As I said above, I have certain editors whose anthologies I generally enjoy. Two of my favorites are the incomparable Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling. Some of their anthologies are Swan Sister: fairy tales retold; Green Man: tales from the mythic forest; A Wolf at the Door and other retold fairy tales; and The Fairy Reel: tales from the twilight realm. When I was in middle school, I discovered a series of anthologies which I adored. Edited by Isaac Asimov, Martin Greenberg, and Charles Waugh, they collected stories written for teens by some of the greatest adult science fiction and fantasy writers. The titles were Young Monsters, Young Mutants, Young Extraterrestrials, Young Star Travelers, Young Witches and Warlocks, and Young Ghosts. Unfortunately, they are long out of print. If you ever find a copy of them for sale, snatch it up, cause I'm not letting you borrow mine!"