105 Ways to Give a Book

Return of WAPB

I’m waiting for the Oscar nominations to come in. They’re being announced as I type, and should hopefully be available on the Oscars site by the time I’m done with my post. Actually, it’s purely by chance that I’m on the computer during the announcements. I wasn’t waiting for them, especially since I haven’t seen any of the films that are being mentioned as possible winners.

But it is an interesting coincidence, because I was planning to talk about the Academy Awards today. Specifically, how the movie studios tend to release their best Oscar contenders at the end of the year so they’ll be fresh on people’s minds. I don’t think the same thing happens with children’s books. For books it would seems like a better approach to have an earlier print date to allow buzz to build up. Of course, that’s not always what happens. Take the case of last year’s Newbery winner, The Higher Power of Lucky, which was released at the end of 2006. While the Scrotum Kerfuffle got attention, the other early disappointment surrounding the winner was that nobody had heard of the book. If some title is going to come out of nowhere and take the prize, than there’s no fun in playing along in a year-long home game of “Guess the Newbery.” (Now available in a collectible tin from Mattel!)

Today I return to my own favorite children’s book prize, long dormant but never entirely forgotten. Better yet, we have the whole year to play along and submit our favorites. I’ve already found a strong contender here in the month of January, and I couldn’t be more excited to reintroduce the...

Weird-Ass Picture Book Award
The WAPBAs are given to the books that make you go “Huhhh?” Awards are given for story, illustration, and cover art. The highest award goes to the picture book achieving outstanding weirdness in both illustration and text. The 2007 WAPBA went to The Fuchsia Is Now, by J. Otto Seibold, for its strange story and artwork. The interesting use of condoms as hats was clearly a deciding factor in this book’s selection. Dear Fish, by Chris Gall, won for both illustration and cover art. For storyline, My Father the Dog, by Elizabeth Bluemle, took the prize. (Don’t try to verify any of these awards, as I just made them up right now.)

But before we can start playing the “Guess the WAPBA” for 2009, we’ve got to award the prizes for 2008. So now it’s time to nominate 2007 titles for the WAPBA awards of 2008, to be announced whenever I get around to it. Please nominate your favorite WAPBs for this prestigious prize.

NOTE: If you plan to mention WAPBA on your own blog — and I hope you do — be advised that the phrase “Weird-Ass” brings some interesting searches to your blog. Just a little warning.

(That Oscar website is taking some time to go up, so here is the Associated Press article, which also features some commentary. Like I guessed, I’ve seen none — none — of the nominees. I’ve got to get out more.)

11 comments:

SevenImpossible said...

Aha, interesting challenge. Nothing comes to mind immediately, but I'll have to think . . .

jules, 7-Imp

Kelly said...

I'm sorry, but i don't think anyone can beat Steve Martin/Roz Chast's ABC book for WAPB of 2007!

Kelly Fineman said...

I love the WAPBA idea. Must ponder. Will be back in the next few days.

Bill/Cinéaste/FatherReader said...

I feel really out of it. Here I am, a filmmaker, for crying out loud, and I have seen exactly one of the films nominated -- in any category.

The one film I've seen? Ratatouille. And I only saw that a few weeks ago. Hell, I know the star of the movie, and I still didn't see it in the theaters.

Depressing.

SevenImpossible said...

Ooh, good point, Kelly.

There's also that one by the Freakanomics guy; I'm blanking on the title now -- something about belly buttons -- and I never read it, but I heard enough about it to know it was generally scary. But more bad, I guess, than weird-ass.

-- Jules, 7-Imp

MotherReader said...

The Steve Martin/Roz Chast will be very hard to beat being weird in both text and illustrations at a whole new level. However, since I still question whether the book was actually intended for children, the field remains opens. The true WAPB is trying to appeal to young kids, but in a strange way.

It can still be a good book and be a WAPB. Un-Brella by Scott Franson could be considered WA, but in a good way.

SevenImpossible said...

Adrienne Furness and I (and Eisha will be joining, now that she has a computer again) are currently working on a co-post that is our list of Favorite Demented Picture Books. I bet she'd have some great suggestions for this year's award.

Jules, 7-Imp

Wizards Wireless @ said...

My son loves "My Father the Dog." Okay, it's a little odd, but it's funny.

The author's name is actually Elizabeth Bluemle and she's the owner of The Flying Pig children's bookstore in Vermont.

Jules- the book you're talking about is "The Boy With Two Belly Buttons" by Stephen Dubner.

MotherReader said...

WW, thanks for the author correction. It's okay to like a WAPB - many are good - they're just strange in some way. And anyway, I believe the title was a replacement when the original title was unable to perform its duties having been discovered as a 2005 publication. But that's all in the past.

Julie said...

I nominate NAUGHTY CHERIE by Joyce Carol Oates.

Julie said...

I have to withdraw this nomination and save it for next year. (The pub. date is '08.)