On September 27th 2013, the Manitoba Young Reader’s Choice Award was presented to Chris McMahen for his novel Box of Shocks. He was selected by Manitoba children who had read at least three of the nominated books. Of the 2195 votes that were cast through ninety-two schools and twenty branches of Winnipeg Public Library, Box of Shocks received 253 votes and had been read by 758 students. The race was a tight one, Peter Nimble and his Fantastic Eyes received 225 votes and Undergrounders received 199. Last year’s nominees were read 8430 times! It brings a tear to my eye. Seriously.
The ceremony was held at the Manitoba Theater for Young People and was attended by over 300 students from all over Manitoba. The MYRCA committee was very proud to be able to partner with Thin Air, the International Writer’s Festival who provided us with the theater space and Susan who is quite frankly the most efficient front of house manager, ever! She helped us seat all 306 guests from the voting schools invited to attend. And it was obviously the hottest ticket in town for the tween age group! Free swag included a 2014 list book for their class.
Students and fans gathered to hear Mr. McMahen read from Box of Shocks. The passage he read was when Oliver sneaks into Spike McChomp’s yard to retrieve another memento for his box. Say it with me now, SPIKE McCHOMP! Mr. McMahen then demonstrated his writing process. He stood on the far left of the stage. “First”, he said, “I have my Great Idea” (hop). “Then I write the 1st draft” (step). “Then comes Finding a Publisher” (step). “Then comes Revision” (step). Then “Revision (another step). Revision, Revision, Revision, Revision, Revision, Revision, Revision” until he crossed the stage entirely. “Then comes Publication” (hop). The students seemed horrified at the thought of so much revision! It was extremely amusing.
It was then time to officially launch the 2014 Nominees: Heather Eby’s students created book-trailers which were premiered on the big screen. For those of you wondering, book-trailers are short videos that are designed to sell the book, just like movie trailers do for movies. The fact that they were made by the students in such a short amount of time positively amazed me. Way to go Linden Meadows School! Epic Work!
The greatest joy for any librarian is to see a room full of children absolutely excited about reading, and the MYRCA ceremony definitely delivered. Even after the formal presentations, the atmosphere was electric as the kids lined up to have their books signed by Chris McMahen. MTYP was a sea of happy faces and nervous chatter. McNally Robinson was on hand if you didn’t yet have your own copy, so books were the star of the show.
Being part of the MYRCA committee as Representative of the Winnipeg Public Library is incredibly rewarding. There are many, many hours of reading many, many books which incur the liveliest discussions; and seeing all those children engaged with reading gives me enough literary energy to propel me into the whole next year. Mr. McMahen said that we have something very special here in Manitoba, and I believe him. It was special enough to merit thanking us in his blog.