What a year 2020 has been. In thinking about what I’m grateful for, I think all the way back to January. It was filled with such promise. I was preparing for ALA Midwinter, and for days of meetings and deliberations with the Odyssey Committee. And that conference in Philadelphia remains a highlight of my year. The committee spent 2019and early 2020 listening to hundreds of audiobooks, and many of them more than once. It was intense. I’ve always listened on my morning commute, and now my lunchtime walks were always with earbuds, as were most household tasks: laundry, organizing closets, gardening, dishes, cooking.
At in person meetings we got to know each other — a group of people with varied interests, at different stages of our careers, from all corners of the country. We got to know what things people noticed — and what each other’s pet peeves were (mouthsounds, sibillance anyone?) We benefitted from those who knew another language, who could point out an inaccurate accent or inconsistency. We also soon knew what each others favorites were. There was laughter, discovery, frustration (we are human!), wonder, respect, and looking back, for me — gratitude. Gratitude for the time each member of the committee devoted to listening and to discussion, to active participation in the process.
And, since it is November, I’ve been thinking of one of “our” honor books, We Are Grateful, Otsaliheliga. It is thanks to this being an audio book, and to a fellow committee member who encouraged me, that I can now say Otsaliheliga (oh-jah-LEE-hay-lee-gah) . It is an altogether wonderful production, with Cherokee words and cultural elements, recorded in a Cherokee studio, with such an eye to accuracy and authenticity throughout. It is an exemplary picture book, and the audio adds another dimension for those who want to learn more about Native culture. The book celebrates the seasons and celebrations of the year with a Cherokee family. Read an incredible review here, in which Eti Berland explores many of the elements that work together to create this audiobook, to create this “immersive soundscape.” You can also enjoy this video interview with author Traci Sorrell.