Grades 3-5: 11 Birthdays, Wendy Mass

Grades 6-8: Confetti Girl, Diana López

Past Winners


EMPORIA, KAN. — Two books about young girls dealing with growing pains have been judged the best by Kansas schoolchildren.

“11 Birthdays” by Wendy Mass (Scholastic Books) and “Confetti Girl” by Diana Lopez (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) are the recipients of the 2012 William Allen White Children’s Book Awards.

The William Allen White Children’s Book Award program was founded in 1952 by Ruth Garver Gagliardo, a specialist in children’s literature for Emporia State University. One of the few literary awards that asks young readers to choose the winners, the program is directed by Emporia State University and supported in part by the Trusler Foundation.

Both authors have been invited to the awards celebration, set for Saturday, Oct. 6, in Emporia.

“11 Birthdays,” selected by voters in Grades 3 through 5, is the story of Amanda, who is excited to celebrate her 11th birthday — except everything goes wrong, starting with not celebrating with her best friend, Leo. They’ve shared every birthday of their life, but are on the outs.

When Amanda goes to sleep that night, she’s just glad the day’s over. But, the next morning, her birthday starts all over again.

“I was really thrilled and honored to learn that 11 Birthdays had won the William Allen White Children’s Book Award,” said Mass. “I had so much fun writing this book about friendship, forgiveness, and second chances (and third, fourth, fifth chances, etc!). It means a lot to me to know that the children of Kansas had fun reading it. What more could a writer ask for?”

Mass is the New York Times best-selling author of 12 novels for young people, which have been translated into 14 languages and nominated for 50 state book awards. Her titles include “A Mango-Shaped Space,” which was awarded the Schneider Family Book Award by the American Library Association; “Leap Day,” the “Twice Upon a Time” fairy tale series, “Every Soul a Star,” “Heaven Looks a Lot Like the Mall,” “Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life” and “Finally.” Her most recent books are “The Candymakers” and “13 Gifts.”

Mass writes more than books — she wrote the storyline for an episode of the television show “Monk,” titled “Mr. Monk Goes to the Theatre,” which aired during the show’s second season. She tells people her hobbies are hiking and photography, but really they're collecting candy bar wrappers and searching for buried treasure with her metal detector. She lives with her family in New Jersey.

“Confetti Girl,” chosen by readers in Grades 6 through 8, is a clever and honest story of a young Latina girl navigating growing pains in her South Texas city. Apolonia “Lina” Flores is a sock enthusiast, a volleyball player, a science lover, and a girl who’s just looking for answers.

Even though her house is crammed full of books (her dad’s a bibliophile), she’s having trouble figuring out some very big questions, like why her dad seems to care about books more than her, why her best friend’s divorced mom is obsessed with making cascarones (hollowed eggshells filled with colorful confetti), and, most of all, why her mom died last year. Like colors in cascarones, Lina’s life is a rainbow of people, interests, and unexpected changes.

“What makes winning the William Allen White Award so special is that students select the winner,” Lopez said. “I used to teach middle school, so as I wrote ‘Confetti Girl,’ I kept thinking about my students. I wanted to write a book that they would like. That's why I got so excited when I heard I won the award. Thank you, Kansas!”

During the October awards celebration, schoolchildren from across the state of Kansas travel to Emporia for special events including lock-ins, author readings and book signings along with a parade through downtown Emporia to the awards ceremony itself. Many teachers use travel to the book awards as incentives in their school reading programs.

 

Additional resources:

•  William Allen White Children's Book Awards: www.emporia.edu/libsv/wawbookaward/

•  Scholastic Books: www2.scholastic.com

•  Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: www.hatchettebookgroup.com

•  Wendy Mass: www.wendymass.com.

•  Diana Lopez: www.dianalopezbooks.com