Volume 28, Number 4, Winter 2006

Have You Read the Latest "Schneider?"

By Barbara Mates, Cleveland Public Library and Chair of the 2007 Schneider Family Book Award Jury

We are happy to report that the Schneider Family Book Award, established in 2003 by Dr. Katherine Schneider to recognize authors and illustrators who portray children’s experiences with disabilities in a positive manner, is growing stronger. It is gaining respect and recognition by writers, illustrators, librarians and publishers. Publishers are proudly affixing the newly redesigned ALA Schneider Family medallion sticker to the award winning books. The 2006 Award jury received many nominations at all levels and are told there are already nominations for the 2007 Award to be read.

The committee had to opportunity to have lunch with Dr. Schneider and most of the 2006 Schneider Family Award winners and their publishers. After talking with Dr. Schneider and the winners, the committee was even more confident that they made the right choices. The 2006 winners included:

  • Dad, Jackie, and Me , written by Myron Uhlberg, illustrated by Colin Bootman, and published by Peachtree Press, won the award for young children. This expressively illustrated work offers us a glimpse of a young boy’s tender relationship with his deaf father who identifies with baseball player Jackie Robinson as the reader recognizes that discrimination takes many forms. Those in attendance at the Midwinter Awards Press Release program will remember President Michael Gorman’s touching comments about this work as he shared the fact that his grandchild was deaf and the theme really hit home.
  • Tending to Grace , written by Kimberly Newton Fusco and published by Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books was the winner of the middle-school award. Cornelia “Corny” Thornhill, a self-described bookworm who stutters, is thought by educators to be a poor student because of her reluctance to speak or read aloud. During the school year that Corny lives with her eccentric great-aunt Agatha, a family secret helps them as they unravel their differences. Told with eloquent simplicity, Corny’s narrative is an honest portrayal of self-discovery.
  • Under the Wolf, Under the Dog , written by Adam Rapp and published by Candlewick Press was the teen award winner. This compelling narrative of journal entries by a 16-year-old boy immerses the reader into his deteriorating mental state. Unable to cope with his mother’s death and his brother’s suicide, he contemplates suicide himself. In a home for troubled teens he rediscovers living. The poetic language and gripping vivid images portray his spiraling out of control and his redemptive steps of recovery.
While some of the readers of Interface may not have read children’s or teen books for awhile, these and past winners are good reads and do represent what it is like living with a disability or living with someone who has a disability. All would make good additions to one’s library or as gifts to youth readers.

Additional information about the winners, a listing of past winners, a nomination form, and an updated bibliography focusing on children’s books about the disability experience may be found at The Schneider Family Book Award Web site.