Like a beauty queen contestant waving her last wave, Margaret and the Moth Tree’s reign as the Silver Birch Express Award book of 2013 has come to an end.
The year ended right where it began, at the Ontario Library Association conference here in Toronto, and this time, Brit was flown in, too! (Thank you, OLA!) Brit and I were part of a panel of authors talking about what our Silver Birch award meant to us, and I want to reiterate here what we said there: it was life-changing.
Apart from the honour of being nominated for (let alone winning) a provincial award because librarians selected us, the contact we were able to make with young readers was the truly priceless thing about this whole experience.
There is nothing more inspiring than direct feedback from kids. Without that exposure, we would never have had such strong encouragement to keep going and keep writing. I really can’t emphasize enough how much this means to fledgling authors, and of course, what it means to over 250,000 book-loving kids.
To everyone involved in this wonderful program, a million thank-yous.
I feel like I just want to echo everything Brit wrote last week, so I will go ahead and steal her words…
Wow!! Kari and I are so insanely thrilled… Margaret took home the Silver Birch Express Award in Toronto last Thursday! What a fantastic way to end of this whirlwind tour of Ontario. For those who aren’t familiar, the Silver Birch Express is a provincial readers’ choice award in Ontario. With over 100,000 kids voting across the province, we couldn’t be prouder to have been selected as this year’s winner in the middle grade category. The fact that we were chosen for this award by our readers makes it so meaningful to us — so much so that we are now hard at work on our next book!
As Kari and I said on Thursday, we’re so grateful to the Ontario Library Association for having us as part of the amazing Forest of Reading program. And to all the kids who took part in the program and voted: you guys are the BEST!!! Keep reading!
Thank you again, OLA, teachers, parents, and especially our readers — we’re just over the moon to have gotten to experience all this with our first book. It’s been a wild ride to share with you and Margaret!
Brit and I are back in Toronto after the most unbelievable and wonderful week on the road! We’ve been travelling from Parry Sound to North Bay to Thunder Bay with a roving band of fellow “Forest of Reading”-nominated authors — and meeting hundreds of amazing young Margaret and the Moth Tree readers in each city!
We’d heard before that the “Forest” award ceremonies are a once-in-a-lifetime experience for an author. And they really, really are.
In each place we went, we got to meet kids, parents, teachers and librarians who’d read our book. We heard questions and perspectives about our own story that we never would have expected. We got to know the other authors, and we got swept up with everybody in a sea of OVERFLOWING BOOK LOVE. And, as the icing on the cake… Margaret was the regional winner at all three ceremonies! Thank you so much to all the Ontario kids who read and voted. Your fantastic enthusiasm, curiosity and passion for books are such an inspiration to Brit and me. It’s been a huge boost to keep writing and try to return to the festival again some day 😉
We’re so excited to meet 2,500 more of you next week at the provincial awards ceremony in Toronto!!
Last week, I got to eat breakfast with a room full of people celebrating the Ontario Library Association’s Forest of Reading Program (the program that nominated Margaret and the Moth Tree for the Silver Birch Express Award!).
It was a treat to meet the librarians and to chat with some fellow nominees. And listening to the speeches about the program, it really got me thinking about what it’s like for teachers and librarians nowadays, helping to raise a generation of young readers. This is a group of people who work a lot of unpaid overtime to bring literacy to kids, whose programs often lack the funding they need, and who are always trying to reach struggling, disengaged kids.
So when a literacy program comes along that’s as popular and effective as Forest of Reading is, it makes you want to get to your feet and cheer.
As I wrote about when nominations were announced, Forest of Reading is an annual youth reading challenge, in which ten books are selected for each age category by a group of librarians. Kids read the nominated books, then they get to decide which title takes home the prize at the end of the school year, and attend a super exciting awards ceremony where they get all worked up cheering for their favourites. Usually kids will take part within their schools, with the support of their teachers, or sometimes they’ll take part through a parent-run book club.
Something I’ve heard so many times — and something I can’t wait to witness firsthand — is that kids just love this program. It gets them excited about starting the next book on the list, and it gets them to form opinions and start discussions about what they like to read.
It’s a pretty inspiring thing, especially when it comes to reluctant boy readers. I heard someone at my table say, “Usually, it’s only the girls whose hands you have to pry a book out of when reading time is over. But after taking part in Forest of Reading, it was the boys in the class who wouldn’t let go of their books.”
Being nominated for one of these awards is a wonderful boost for any author, but especially for a new author. It’s obviously really encouraging to know that a committee of librarians thought your book worthy enough to nominate it. But beyond that, being a Forest of Reading title means that your book gets brought into schools in a way that it otherwise wouldn’t. It means that more teachers know about it, more students read it, and (my personal favourite part)… we get to hear kids’ thoughts on our book!
The students have started posting their reactions on the Forest of Reading online community… here are some delightful bits of conversation from the Margaret and the Moth Tree forum. 🙂
“I think this book was awesome because it showed a lot of caring and it also showed how a little girls life could become spectacular, in just a little time!”
“I think that this book is a great book because it shows how teamwork works.”
“This is so cool it is about a girl who goes to an orphanage. WOW! You should read it because Margaret saves the day!”
“I didn’t like this book because it was sad that miss switch was so mean.”
“This one’s plot is terrific and some parts are funny.”
“I love this book because it is funny and it is great for all ages.”
“I like this book because it has a good ending and it makes a lot of sense so you guys should read it.”
“Such a great book! i loved how every chapter started with a saying or a lesson. And there couldn’t have been a better ending!”
“Wow, this book was both funny and terrifying at the same time (how would you like to dangle on a window sill on a blistery day). We learned that you shouldn’t judge someone by the way they look or a book by its cover. Ms. Switch is such a lovely lady………..”
“I think this is a great book because it tells you that at the loneliest times you can still make friends and make the situation better.”
Okay I’ll get right to it… Margaret and the Moth Tree has been nominated for a kids’ choice award!!!
This is such a wonderful honour for Brit and me, as the nominations are done by people who read a lot of children’s books — librarians and educators — and it’s hugely exciting, because the votes will be cast by students across the province!
Here in Ontario these awards are called the “Forest of Reading” (aka the Tree Awards), with a different “tree” for each age category. Margaret‘s category is the Silver Birch Express Award: fiction and non-fiction aimed at the Grade 3-4 reading level. This year’s nominees are listed here 🙂
How it works is, students at participating schools have to read five out of the ten nominees in order to cast their vote. Then in May, the Ontario Library Association holds an awards ceremony and announces the winners in front of all the kids. This footage makes me feel absolutely giddy that Brit and I will get to attend. So many children… so much literary love… eek!
And there you have it: proof that kids can get just as excited about BOOKS as they can about Justin Bieber!!
To add to the excitement, Margaret has also been nominated for TWO other awards (eek!).
The first is one that you — yes, YOU! — can cast a vote for.
Margaret’s been nominated for Best Middle Grade Fantasy in this year’s YABC Choice Awards. Staff editors from Young Adult Books Central nominate their favourites of 2012 (huge thanks to editor Claire Johnson), and the public has until midnight on New Year’s Eve to vote. Should you care to vote for Margaret, click HERE. (Best to do a search for “moth tree” if you’d rather not scroll through every category.)
Margaret has also been nominated for a Cybils Award in the “Science Fiction and Fantasy” category. The Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary Awards are nominated by the reading public and judged by a panel of children’s book bloggers. We’re just thrilled to be included among the nominees — thank you so much, lovely online friends.
The Sisters Trogen are proud to present… Margaret and the Moth Tree‘s shiny new book trailer!