Last year I was on the panel to help select the 2012-13 National Ambassador for Young People's Literature, a post held at the time by the incomparable Katherine Paterson. Before we met, each of us was tasked with coming up with a list of 5-10 names to suggest to the group, and I wondered how different (or not) our lists would be. One name that turned out to be on all our minds was Walter Dean Myers.
Myers' novel, Monster, was the winner of the very first Michael J. Printz award in 2000 and the third book in his Cruisers series, A Star is Born, is due out on August 1. Reading Myers' YA novels of inner city life is a gritty, poignant, and totally consuming experience--the authenticity of his writing is a common thread that appeals to me in all his books whether it's the story of a young incarcerated dope dealer , a coming-of-age exploration of war, or a picture book tribute to America. At Book Expo America the new National Ambassador for Young People's Literature was there, proudly wearing his medal, and I was able to meet and interview an author I have long admired--it made my day.