The Odyssey Award honors the best producer of a book for children and has been awarded yearly since 2008. The winners are announced each January as part of the Youth Media Awards announcements.
Those of you who know me know I am a great fan of audiobooks going back 30+ years and I have two crates of audiocassettes to prove it. In my first year of school librarianship, a language arts teacher called me out for suggesting an audiobook to a struggling eighth grade reader. "How dare you!" she said,"How do you expect him to learn to read if he doesn't read?" Admittedly, I was a bit cowed, but mumbled something along the lines of, "He hates reading, why not make him love story?"
I'm proud to say that I have listened to nearly all the winners and honor winners, many before the awards were announced. I also try to make sure I'm in town for the announcements. One year, I forgot they were usually on Monday night and made arrangements to fly from conference in Anaheim to San Fransisco to visit my husband's uncle. I was so sad.
When the awards are presented, the committee usually plays an audio clip of the book, and they usually have technical difficulties, which is kind of funny and ironic. Also, a bit unnecessary since, most of the time, the actor or actors are ready to give a short speech and perform part of the book live, which I find much more interesting. If the actor can't make the ceremony play the clip, if they're there, don't. My two cents.
When Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit was announced as the winner back in January, I was not surprised. Narrator Allan Corduner, whose narration of The Book Thief made him my first voice crush, did an astounding job with this intense, emotional story.
Jason Reynolds introduced Guy Lockard, narrator of his Ghost. The two are childhood friends and Lockard also narrated Reynolds' As Brave as You. His voice for Coach is superb and Reynolds praised Lockard's spot-on performance. I told Lockard later that he was one of my latest voice crushes and that I hoped to hear more from him.
The companies of the winners provide free audiobooks at the end where we are reminded to take just one and given the opportunity for a second if there are any left over. The only recording I didn't already own was Dream On, Amber, so my choice was easy.
The reception consisted of cheese and fruit and one beverage and enabled folks to mingle and talk. I recall an early reception, I want to say Chicago in 2009, where the spread was quite impressive. Then there was a little recession and the receptions were scaled back but still appreciated. I'll be a bit negative and say that it's way better than paying $30 to eat potato chips at the Printz reception. As much as I loved hearing speeches from all the winners at Printz, why do I get charged $30 to eat chips? One year, there were sad, stale desserts. So thank you Odyssey, for allowing all the winners to speak and to the companies who generously fund the reception and giveaways.