Sunday, August 7, 2011

Alan Silberberg, Sid Fleischman Award winner for MILO: STICKY NOTES & BRAIN FREEZE

Alan Silberberg holds the paperback version
of Milo: Sticky Notes & Brain Freeze

Sid Fleischman was one of the founders of SCBWI and a master of comic invention. He died about a year and a half ago, and the award continues in memory of Sid and in honor of humorous writing.

Lin Oliver, no slouch herself when it comes to funny, introduced us to the delightful and warm-hearted Alan Silberman, who won this year's award for his book MILO: STICKY NOTES & BRAIN FREEZE, about a 12-year-old boy who loses his mother, sneezes on the girl he secretly loves, and learns to live with both.

"Like all great comedy, it has its basis in the human heart," Lin Oliver said. "From the moment we meet Milo we know we're in the presence of a hero who teaches us that humor and hope are the antidotes to grief and isolation.

He shared episodes from his writer's journey with us.

"My first book was pond scum," he said, not clarifying that POND SCUM was the title of the book and not his own personal post-publication review.
After that, he had a couple of false starts. He felt waves of panic until a bookseller asked him why he hadn't tried combining his cartooning and writing. Sort of like that little Wimpy Kid series.

That's when Milo was born. To get into the headspace of a 13-year-old, he had to travel back into his own memories ... to the time when he had braces and ate a forbidden Baby Ruth (with disastrous results), and to the death of his mother when he was 9 years old.

That's when he got the idea to combine humor and heartbreak so that he could tell the story of a funny kid living in a fog-filled emotional world. He wanted kids to laugh even as Milo dealt with that sadness, and to win a humor award for that means the world, he said.

For a description of his working relationship with editor Liesa Abrams, check out our recap.

He dedicated the award to his mother, Audrey Silberberg. And then we all cried.

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