“Bystander” Nominated for the Sunshine State Young Reader’s Award

I’m always happy to share good news. I learned this morning that Bystander has been selected as one of the books listed for the Sunshine State Young Reader’s Award for grades 6-8.

I’m not lying. Click here if you don’t believe me.

According to the SSYRA website:

The Sunshine State Young Reader’s Award Program is a statewide reading motivation program for students in grades 3-8. The program, cosponsored by the School Library Media Services Office of the Department of Education and the Florida Association for Media in Education (FAME), began in 1983. The purpose of the SSYRA Program is to encourage students to read independently for personal satisfaction, based on interest rather than reading level.

Sunshine State books are selected for their wide appeal, literary value, varied genres, curriculum connections, and/or multicultural representation. Students are encouraged to read books that are above, on, and below their tested reading level in order to improve their reading fluency.

All schools are sent a school participation form in August and registration, activities, and voting are available online for participating schools.

This is a real honor and I’m very glad to see this book, and this topic, get into the hands of young readers. Believe me, I’ve written decent books that have disappeared — just vanished, poof! — so it’s terrific to see Bystander hanging in there.

Readers may remember that Bystander has already received similar nominations from the good folks in Oklahoma, New York, Vermont and Kentucky. Understandably, but still weirdly, these awards require a vote. A winner and a sorry bunch of losers, rudely kicked to the curb. I tell you now in total honesty that my deepest hope is to please Dear God not come in last place. Oh, how I wish I had more cousins in Florida! In truth, and my apologies for employing such a tired cliche, but to be nominated is as good as winning. Kind of. Really! No, not really. But almost!

Thank you, Sunshine State!

The other books on the Master List for grades 6-8:

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angelberger

The Prince of Fenway Park by Julianna Baggott

Flawed Dogs: The Novel by Berkeley Breathed

Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper

Dark Life by Kat Falls

Pemba’s Song: A Ghost Story by Tonya Hegamin and Marilyn Nelson

Scat by Carl Hiassen

Alibi Junior High by Greg Logsted

The Day of the Pelican by Katherine Paterson

Woods Runner by Gary Paulsen

Bystander by James Preller

Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson

Jolted: Newton Starker’s Rules for Survival by Arthur G. Slade

Killer Pizza by Greg Taylor

Peace, Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson

I’m sure I speak for all the authors when I say . . . VOTE FOR BYSTANDER! Please, people, it’s not even close. Katherine Paterson? What’d she ever write? Hiassen? In Florida? They’ve got to be sick of him by now. By coincidence, I just purchased Tom Angelberger’s book because my friend, author Jennifer Roy, wouldn’t stop raving about him, and it. All I kept thinking was, “Jennifer, when are you going to start raving about me?” What’s up with her, anyway?


  1. Heidi says:

    Hi Mr. Preller!
    If it makes you feel any better, I personally am VERY sick of Hiassen, and Katherine? Meh..Paulsen? sounds vaguely familiar.. Berkley Breathed? really? how do you even pronounce that?! Not to mention his book about cruelty to dogs!
    But, I found your book to be very realistic and well, helpful! Helpful for kids to actually see what’s going on when someone is like Griffin, and.. oh, Charles Manson!
    So I will be voting for it to win! And, I’ll encourage all my friends who can vote, to vote for it too!
    I have read all these books, and believe me, yours is NOT the last place book!

    Your biggest fan in Florida,
    Heidi – I’ll be praying and rooting for Bystander! 🙂

  2. jimmy says:

    Heidi, thanks for your support. As you know, the idea of these competitions is a little gross, pitting artists against each other, a winner and a loser, etc. Most of us don’t really look at books that way, and I really don’t think there needs to be one winner (though I get that the voting probably generates student interest, excitement, motivation; the contest gets kids to READ). Ultimately, awards are positive for the overall attention they bring to many worthy books, just as the Academy Awards motivate movie-goers to catch up on all the flicks they missed. It’s good for the industry as a whole, even if the idea of winners and losers is fundamentally wrong-minded.

    I am truly, truly grateful and honored that my book was nominated, to be listed in that company of writers. Would I like to win? Oh, sure, yeah. That would be crazy, and so unexpected. I’ve written almost 40 Jigsaw Jones books and not one of them got reviewed, so it’s a huge kick to get this kind of attention for my work. Thanks very much for the vote.

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