Valerie H. Nicholson wins YALSA’s 2009 MAE Award for Best Literature Program for Teens

Contact: Stephanie Kuenn
YALSA Communications Specialist

For Immediate Release
February 10, 2009

CHICAGO —The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), named Valerie H. Nicholson the winner of the 2009 MAE Award for Best Literature Program for Teens.

The MAE Award provides $500 to the recipient and $500 to the recipient’s library.

Valerie H. Nicholson is the advisor for the Eva Perry Mock Printz Book Club for Teens at the Eva Perry Regional Library in Apex, N.C., a branch of the Wake County (N.C.) Public Libraries. Although mock book elections take place throughout the country, the Eva Perry Mock Printz Book Club stood out as a well-rounded example that is an inspiration for others. Teens have many opportunities to participate: the program incorporates technology, allowing teens to interact with a North Carolina State University young adult literature graduate class and noted YA authors both virtually and in-person. Self-confidence, public speaking skills and critical thinking skills increase as the teens are reminded how valuable their opinions are to the library system through their recommendations and reviews.

The Eva Perry Mock Printz Book Club for Teens is open to any teen  14-19, or in grades 9-12. At the Mock Printz club, teens attempt to read and present all young adult books published during the year, discussing plot, setting, genre, style of writing, character development, uniqueness, teen voice and relevancy of the topic to teens. As they develop a list of potential winners, the young adult literature graduate education class at North Carolina State University incorporates the Eva Perry list into its reading list. At that last meeting of the book club year, favorite books are analyzed and compared until a final winner is selected. The weekend following the official ALA announcements, the club meets for “Dessert, Discussion, and Decompression” to share their thoughts on the national winners. In her application, Ms. Nicholson notes that “this year the book club dined with Neal Shusterman, author of Unwind, and the 2008 Eva Perry Mock Printz Award winner.”

In February, the book club and the NCSU graduate class participate in the Melinda Award, where all Mock Printz winners are discussed on a live interactive webcam program promoted to teachers and librarians around the world, though it’s open to all. Additionally, the club presented at the Charlotte-Mecklenberg Virtual Literary Festival for Teens in Second Life. In March, the teen display is devoted to winners and honor books. As the year continues, book club members highlight favorite books and excellent YA literature in the library. Many readers seek out the markers for specific reviewers, knowing that they will love their recommendations.

“The enthusiasm of the teens has been wonderful,” Nicholson said. “They are a remarkable group who love the literary world.” She will use the full prize amount to help fund a trip for the book club members to the American Library Association Annual Conference in Washington, D.C., in 2010.

“The committee was very impressed with the way Valerie incorporated technology, including a live webcam program, Second Life and Skype, and collaboration with an academic university into her book club,” said Monique le Conge, chair of the YALSA/MAE Award Jury. “I am pleased to hear such incredible things are being done for and by teens.”

The 2009 YALSA/MAE Award Jury members are Monique A. le Conge, chair, Richmond (Calif.) Public Library; Adrienne Butler, Oklahoma Dept. of Libraries, Oklahoma City; Viola Dyas, Oakland, Calif.; Kate Pickett, Johnson County Library, Shawnee Mission, Kan.; and Elizabeth Willoughby, Red Bank (N.J.) Borough Public Schools.

For more than 50 years, YALSA has been the world leader in selecting books, videos and audio books for teens. For more information about YALSA or for lists of recommended reading, viewing and listening, go to, or contact the YALSA office by phone, (800) 545-2433, ext. 4390, or e-mail,