Scholastic Audio wins 2021 Odyssey Award for 'Kent State'

For Immediate Release
Mon, 01/25/2021

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CHICAGO – Scholastic Audio, producer of the audiobook “Kent State,” has won the 2021 Odyssey Award for Excellence in Audiobook Production. The award announcement was made today during the American Library Association’s ALA Midwinter Virtual, held Jan. 22–26.

The Odyssey Award is given to the producer of the best audiobook produced for children and/or young adults, available in English in the United States. The award is jointly administered by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) and the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), divisions of the ALA, and is sponsored by Booklist magazine.

“Kent State,” written in verse by Deborah Wiles, powerfully narrated by Christopher Gebauer, Lauren Ezzo, Christina Delaine, Johnny Heller, Roger Wayne, Korey Jackson, and David de Vries and produced by Paul R. Gagne, uses alternating voices to convey the experiences behind the shootings at Kent State on May 4, 1970, with one goal: to ask us to listen. Original music by Jim Pearce and vivid sound effects combine with the narration to create an immersive, thought-provoking, and immediate experience for any listener.

“The variety of perspectives, along with an excellently produced soundscape, invites audiences to critically examine a tragic, historic event with distinct relevance to today,” said Odyssey Award Committee Chair Maryanne Olson.

The Odyssey Committee selected four Honor Audiobooks

“Clap When You Land,” written by Elizabeth Acevedo, narrated by Elizabeth Acevedo and Melania-Luisa Marte, and produced by Caitlin Garing for HarperAudio, a division of HarperCollins Publishers, is a novel in verse about two sisters who learn about each other after their father’s death. In alternating chapters, the lyrical and expressive tones of these spoken-word performers are beautifully balanced. Listeners experience the pain and joy of the sisters as they reconcile and share their family stories.

“Fighting Words,” is written by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, narrated by Bahni Turpin, and produced by Karen Dziekonski for Listening Library, an imprint of Penguin Random House Audio. This expertly delivered audiobook is raw, engaging, and powerful. Turpin’s skillful narration of this middle grade story about two sisters surviving and healing from sexual abuse conveys complicated emotions through the dynamic first-person voice of Della, the younger sister.

“Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You,” is written by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi, narrated by Jason Reynolds with an introduction by Ibram X. Kendi, and produced by Robert Van Kolken for Hachette Audio. This compelling remix of Kendi’s academic work sets a new standard for nonfiction audio production. In sections framed by dynamic music, Reynolds delivers a conversational and riveting performance about the history of racism and antiracism that connects contemporary listeners to history.

“When Stars Are Scattered,” written by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed and narrated by Faysal Ahmed, Barkhad Abdi, and a full cast, is produced by Kelly Gildea and Julie Wilson for Listening Library, an imprint of Penguin Random House Audio. Intimately experience the challenges, hopes and dreams of Omar, his younger brother, Hassan, and other children in a Somalian Refugee camp in Kenya. Based on a true story, this audio adaptation of the original graphic novel is a masterful collage of voices and ambient sound effects.

Audiobooks constitute a fast-growing area of usage in libraries. The award is named after the epic poem titled, “The Odyssey,” that was told and retold in the oral tradition and eventually ascribed by the poet Homer on the tales of Ulysses as he returns to his kingdom after the Trojan War. The Odyssey Award allows us to return to the ancient roots of storytelling, while living in our modern world.

Members of the 2021 Odyssey Award Committee are Chair Maryanne Olson, Queens Public Library, Queens, New York; Kelsey Bates, Kansas City Public Library, Kansas City, Missouri; Scott Businsky, New Castle County Libraries, New Castle, Delaware; Sharon Deeds, Utah State Library, Salt Lake City, Utah; Paige Bentley-Flannery, Deschutes Public Library, Bend, Oregon; Doris Gebel, Rutgers University, Melfa, Virginia; Jeanette Johnson, Oak Avenue Intermediate School, Temple City, California; Rita King, Baker & Taylor, Spring Lake, Michigan; Maryann H. Owen, Oak Creek Public Library, Oak Creek, Wisconsin; Suzanne Temple, NoveList, Durham, North Carolina; and Margaret Tice, Magen David Yeshivah, Brooklyn, New York.

For information on the Odyssey Award and other ALA Youth Media Awards, please visitwww.ala.org/yma

About the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC)

The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) is driven by more than 4,000 members dedicated to the support and enrichment of library service to children. Our members include youth librarians, literature experts, publishers and educational faculty. ALSC members engage communities to build healthy, successful futures for all children. To learn more about ALSC and how to join, please visit our website at www.ala.org/alsc.

About the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA)

The mission of the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) is to support library staff in alleviating the challenges teens face, and in putting all teens ‒ especially those with the greatest needs ‒ on the path to successful and fulfilling lives. For more information about YALSA or to access national guidelines and other resources go to www.ala.org/yalsa, or contact the YALSA office by phone, 800-545-2433, ext. 4390; or e-mail: yalsa@ala.org.