Schneider Family Book Award Recipients

2008 Award Winners

Young Children Book

kami and the yaks by andrea stenn, illustrated by bert dodson

Kami and the Yaks written by Andrea Stenn Stryer, illustrated by Bert Dodson and published by Bay Otter Press of Palo Alto, CA, wins the award for young children. Kami, a young Sherpa boy who is deaf, rescues his family’s yaks and livelihood during a violent storm. Stunning, realistic watercolors add depth to a strong story, bringing out the drama of the Himalayan Mountains. Together they perfectly capture Kami’s ability to communicate with home signs.

Middle School Book

reaching for the sun by tracie vaughn zimmer

Tracie Vaughn Zimmer is the winner of the middle grade school award for Reaching for Sun published by Bloomsbury USA Children’s Press, New York, NY. Zimmer uses lyrical free verse to tell the story of one girl’s thirteenth year. Josie, a young teen with cerebral palsy, blossoms through her relationship with her grandmother, conflicts with her mother, her friendship with a new neighbor boy, and her care of the family garden. Form, format, and content combine to create an exquisite story.

Teen Book

hurt go happy by ginny rorby

The teen award winner is Hurt Go Happy written by Ginny Rorby, a Starscape Book published by Tom Doherty Associates. Initially isolated by her mother’s refusal to let her learn American Sign Language (ASL), Joey grows from a lonely teen to a mature animal rights activist in this engaging story of a deaf girl and Sukari, a signing chimpanzee. After learning ASL, Joey rescues Sukari from a research lab. This rich story will resonate with all readers who value independence and love animals.

2007 Award Winners

Young Children Book

the deaf musicians by pete seeger and paul dubois jacobs

The Deaf Musicians by Pete Seeger and poet Paul DuBois Jacobs, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie and published by G. P. Putnam’s Sons (2006), is the winner of the young children’s category. After losing his hearing, jazzman Lee learns to make music in a new way. The book’s upbeat narrative, along with its bright colors, teaches the reader that there is more than one way to do everything, to never give up on your dreams and that music can be enjoyed by all.

Middle School Book

rules by cynthia lord

Rules by Cynthia Lord, published by Scholastic Press (2006), is the winner in the middle school category for its realistic depiction of 12-year-old Catherine’s quest to find her place in a family consumed by her autistic brother David’s needs. Catherine copes by developing rules for herself and for David. She tries to adhere to these rules until she meets Jason, a non-verbal paraplegic teen, who teaches her that rules are sometimes just excuses.

Teen Book

small steps by louis sachar

Small Steps by Louis Sachar, published by Delacorte Press (2006), is the winner in the teen category. Armpit’s humorous adventures portray the unexpected friendship between a recently released juvenile delinquent and 10-year-old Ginny, who has cerebral palsy, as they help each other take incremental steps towards a brighter future. "Small Steps" shows that friendship comes in many shapes, sizes, ages, and abilities.

2006 Award Winners

Young Children Book

dad, jackie, and me

Dad, Jackie, and Me written by Myron Uhlberg, illustrated by Colin Bootman and published by Peachtree Press, wins the award for young children. This exceptional portrayal of a young boy's affectionate relationship with his deaf father hits home when his dad identifies with baseball player Jackie Robinson and recognizes that discrimination takes many forms. Expressive illustrations evoke the 1940s era and capture mood, warmth, and sensitivity.

\Middle School Book

tending to grace

Tending to Grace by Kimberly Newton Fusco and published by Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children's Books is the winner of the middle-school award. Cornelia “Corny” Thornhill, a self-described bookworm who stutters, is judged 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.

Teen Book

under the wolf, under the dog

Under the Wolf, Under the Dog, written by Adam Rapp and published by Candlewick Press is 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.

2005 Award Winners

Young Children Book

my pal victor/mi amigo, victor

My Pal Victor/Mi amigo, Victor written by Diane Diane Gonzaels Bertrand and illustrated by Robert L. Sweetland and published by Raven Tree Press wins the award for young children. The bilingual text and bold, colorful illustrations weave the story of two Latino boys who share the joys of friendship—telling scary stories and outrageous riddles, going swimming, riding roller coasters and having many other adventures. Dominic is proud that his pal likes the way he is. Until the last illustration, the reader is unaware that Victor uses a wheelchair.

Middle School Book

becoming naomi león

Becoming Naomi León written by Pam Muñoz Ryan and published by Scholastic Press, a division of Scholastic is the winner of the middle school. Ryan uses imaginative language and great sensitivity in portraying an 11-year-old girl’s emergence from the timidity of an emotionally abusive relationship to becoming a lioness. The staunch defender of her younger brother Owen, who was born with physical disabilities, Naomi proclaims her inner strength by referring a loving great-grandmother over her offensive birth mother, and then receiving affirmation in a court decision. The work conveys the truth that there is a magic in all of us—which can be carved out if we choose to see it.

Teen Book

my thirteenth winter: a memoir

My Thirteenth Winter: A Memoir, written by Samantha Abeel and published by Orchard Books, a division of Scholasticis the winner of the teen book. The book was chosen for its honest and sensitive portrayal of the author’s youth as she struggles with dyscalculia, a learning disability in mathematics. The syndrome also affects one’s ability to perform simple tasks, such as telling time or following directions. Abeel’s diagnosis at age 13 helped her and her family make sense of why she excelled in literature but didn’t know what change to expect when buying groceries. She shares her gift of language in this compelling memoir.

2004 Award Winners

Young Children Book

looking out for sarah

Glenna Lang, author and illustrator of Looking Out For Sarah, published by Charlesbridge Publishing, wins the award for young children. In this outstanding picture book, the beautiful harmony between text and illustrations conveys the special bond between Perry, a black Labrador retriever guide dog, and Sarah, a musician who happens to be blind. The text and illustrations depict Perry and Sarah’s daily routine and Perry’s dream about their walk from Boston to New York. Large blocks of color within the book work well for story hour presentations or individual reading.

Middle School Book

a mango shaped space

Wendy Mass, author of A Mango Shaped Space, published by Little, Brown & Company Children’s Publishing, is the winner for middle school. The main character Mia is a sensitive 13-year-old girl who comes to terms with a rare neurological condition called Synesthesia. The story is an introspective look inside the world of one who perceives letters, numbers, and sounds as colors. Mass’s exceptionally descriptive prose makes Synethesia understandable and intriguing. The story demonstrates that, although acceptance from family and friends is important, the most important aspect in accepting one’s own differences is to realize that they are an integral part of who one is.

Teen Book

things not seen

Andrew Clements, author of Things Not Seen, published by Philomel Books, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group, is the winner for teens. In this thought-provoking novel, main character Bobby, 15, wakes up one morning invisible. He feels isolated until he meets Alicia, a teenager who was has experienced a loss of vision following a head injury. Alicia empathizes with Bobby because of her own feelings of being unseen since her accident. Clements realistically portrays the emotional turmoil of two youths during adolescence.