This is one of those “out of body” things. One of those weird turns on the path of life that you don’t see coming, and it’s really fun, but at the same time you keep doubting it’s real, then you feel dumb for doubting, because, after all, they are very smart people, and yes, they did choose you – ME! – and so you had better just stop being silly and bask in it all.
I’m not sure how to phrase this, so I’ll quote from the press release: “…the ALAN Award Committee has voted to honor Laurie Halse Anderson with the 2008 ALAN Award.”
If you don’t know what ALAN is, hang on a sec and I’ll explain. If you do know, then you understand why this feels glorious and overwhelming and has rocked me to the core. It’s a darn good thing they made the announcement five months before I accept the award and give a speech, because it’s going to take me all that time to figure out how to convey my gratitude properly.
Still wondering why I am so befuddled? They’ve given this award to many of my heroes: Teri Lesesne, Jerry Spinelli, Jacqueline Woodson, Patty Campbell, S.E. Hinton, Mildred Taylor, Walter Dean Myers, Chris Crutcher, Don Gallo, Gary Paulsen, Richard Peck, Cynthia Voigt, Katherine Paterson, Madeleine L’Engle, and The Big Guy: Robert Cormier. Now do you see why this is overwhelming?
::pauses for a brief attack of the vapors::
::rouses self with great difficulty::
“But, Laurie, what is ALAN?” you ask.
ALAN is where all the best English teachers hang out. The acronym stands for The Assembly on Literature for Adolescents. In a nutshell, ALAN is the collection of brilliant English teachers, along with the college professors who taught them, and the authors and editors who are in awe of the work they do. If you teach English, literature, or reading to teens, I beg of you, please join. (Very inexpensive!) You’ll get a kick-butt journal with terrific reviews and articles about real-world classroom challenges, and you will connect with some incredible peers.
If all the world is a high school, then ALAN is the cool kids’ table for English teachers; the nice ones who are always scootching down to make room for new people. Especially the new ones who still feel fourteen and gawky.
Thank you very, very much, my kindred spirits.