Why I Love The British

So, this is exciting: Deadweather and Sunrise was just shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize in the U.K.

I am, as you can imagine, honored, flattered, and beyond certain that when it comes time to pick an actual winner, I’m going to get curb-stomped in the 5-to-12-year-old category. Probably by R.J. Palacio and Wonder, because everybody loves that book, and it’s hard to see how its deeply humane message of empathy and kindness could lose out to a story in which even the good kids aren’t above bashing each other in the head with cannonballs.imgres

(Although I do think there’s a great deal of incisive social commentary buried in the pages of Deadweather and Sunrise, not to mention some rather piquant observations on the human condition as it pertains to 13-year-olds, so if you’re a Waterstones voter and you happen to be reading this, please don’t let my opinion prejudice you. Also: does Wonder REALLY need more publicity? I think not.)

But the absolutely coolest part of this news was the headline that England’s fourth-largest newspaper (yes, I googled that) chose to announce the shortlist:

“BEAVIS AND BUTT-HEAD WRITER SHORTLISTED FOR WATERSTONES CHILDREN’S BOOK PRIZE 2013”

It would seem a curious editorial choice to elevate to headline status a minor, two-decade-old credit from just one of eighteen different writers on the shortlist.

Unless, of course, your sense of humor is keen enough–so keen, in fact, as to be positively British–that you not only notice the absurd juxtaposition of Beavis and Butt-head and a putative literary honor, but are willing to make that minor absurdity the main point of your story.

I think this might go a long way toward explaining why the British liked Deadweather and Sunrise enough to put it on the shortlist to begin with.

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