Schneider Family Book Award recipients named

Contact: Cheryl Malden

Program Officer

For Immediate Release

January 17, 2005

Schneider Family Book Award recipients named

BOSTON — The American Library Association (ALA) is pleased to announce the winners of the Schneider Family Book Award, a new award donated by Katherine Schneider, Ph.D., that honors an author or illustrator for a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences.

Recipients are selected in three categories: birth through grade school (age 0–10), middle school (age 11–13), and teens (age 13–18). Recipients in each category receive $5,000 and a framed plaque, which will be presented during the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago.

“My Pal, Victor/Mi amigo, Victor,” written by Diane Gonzales Bertrand and illustrated by Robert L. Sweetland, wins for best picture book for young children. Published by Raven Tree Press, 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 him the way he is. Until the last illustration, the reader is unaware that Victor uses a wheelchair, proving that true friendship is unconditional. Bertrand and Sweetland will share the award.

Pam Muñoz Ryan is the winner of the middle-school award for “Becoming Naomi León,” published by Scholastic Press, a division of Scholastic. 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 preferring 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.

The teen award goes to “My Thirteenth Winter: A Memoir,” written by Samantha Abeel and published by Orchard Books, a division of Scholastic. 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.

Members of the 2005 Schneider Family Book Award committee are: Chair Patricia M. Steelman, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; Mary E. Cissell, Ph.D., University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg; Judith King, Waunakee, Wis.; Barbara Mates, Cleveland Public Library; Judy T. Nelson, Pierce County Library System, Tacoma, Wash.; and Victor Lynn Schill, Harris County Public Library, Houston.

For more information on the Schneider Family Book Award and other ALA literary awards, please visit