2017 White Award Book Winners Announced

Unexpected friendships and following your dreams despite obstacles are common themes of the two winning titles in the 2017 William Allen White Children’s Book Awards.

“Life on Mars” by Jennifer Brown was selected by voters in Grades 3 through 5.

“A Million Ways Home” by Dianna Dorisi Winget was selected by voters in Grades 6 through 8.

The William Allen White Children’s Book Award program began after the famed journalist’s death on Jan. 29, 1944 — Kansas Day — when two memorial foundations were created in his name. Emporia State University launched the William Allen White Children’s Book Award, which was guided by Ruth Garver Gagliardo, who was hired by White to write for The Emporia Gazette.

Passionate about books, Gagliardo wrote a regular column that commented on books, music and art, and often concentrated on books for children. She was one of the first to review children’s books for a newspaper, which gave parents, teachers and librarians the chance to know about good quality books for children.

Gagliardo’s column led to “The Children’s Bookshelf,” a book review column in the Kansas Teacher magazine. She also started the Children’s Traveling Book Exhibit, which helped introduce children all over Kansas to good books for 23 years.

The 65th annual celebration of the WAW Children’s Book Awards program, directed by Emporia State University and supported in part by the Trusler Foundation, will be October 7th, 2017. During that day, schoolchildren from across the state of Kansas travel to Emporia for special events including lock-ins, author readings and book signings along with a pep rally on campus before the awards ceremony itself. Many teachers use travel to the book awards as incentives in their school reading programs.

Student representatives present the winning authors with their White Award medals during the awards ceremony that concludes the special day.

Meet the Authors

Life on Mar by Jennifer BrownJennifer Brown

Brown tells the story of 12-year-old Arcturus Betelgeuse Chambers, who comes from a family of stargazers, and his quest to find life on other planets is unstoppable. 

But when Arty's family announces they're moving to Las Vegas, the City of Lights threatens to put an end to his stargazing dreams forever — especially when he has to stay with his scary next door neighbor while his parents look for a house. As it turns out, “Mr. Death” isn't terrifying at all — he's actually Cash Maddox, a bonafide astronaut!

But when Cash falls ill, will Arty find the courage to complete his mission by himself? And might he actually prove, once and for all, that there is life on Mars?

Author Brown calls herself a “dedicated dreamer/adventurer with no grand plan.” She grew up in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, and wrote her first short story in fourth grade — although she thought she’d be a teacher rather than a writer. The writing bug wouldn’t go away, however, and 13 years ago, she began focusing on that career.

Brown has written young adult novels and women’s fiction. “Life on Mars’ is her first middle-grade novel. It was published by Bloomsbury USA.


All Cover images used by permission of publisher Bloomsbury Publishing USA: http://www.bloomsbury.com/us/

A Million Ways Home by Dianna Dorisi Winget

Dianna Dorisi Winget

In “A Million Ways Home,” Poppy finds her life turned upside down when her grandma (and guardian) has a stroke and ends up in the hospital. While Poppy is working on a plan to help her grandma return home, she witnesses a bank robbery and finds her life in danger.

To keep Poppy safe, the budget-strapped police devise an unusual "witness protection program," wherein Poppy will stay with Detective Brannigan's mother. Soon Poppy is feeling almost at home, even making sort-of friends with a girl named Lizzie and definitely friending Gunner, a beautiful dog with an uncertain fate. But it's still not home.

So while she and Lizzie navigate a rocky friendship and plot to save Gunner's life, Poppy also tries to figure out a new plan to save Grandma Beth and their home, all while avoiding a dangerous robber who might be searching for her. But what if Grandma Beth can never come home and the robber is put behind bars? What will happen to Poppy then?

Author Winget began writing when she was 9, but says she kept her notebooks under her bed and away from prying eyes. When she graduated from high school, she admitted her love of writing and began selling short stories and articles to magazines. In 2012, Winget began writing middle-grade novels. “A Million Ways Home” was published by Scholastic Press in 2014.

Winget lives in the mountains of northern Idaho with her husband, daughter and two dogs.


All Cover images used by permission of publisher Scholastic Press: www.scholastic.com