2009 Schneider Family Book Awards recipients named

Contacts: Macey Morales/Jennifer Petersen

ALA Media Relations

312 280-4393/5043

For Immediate Release

January 26, 2009

DENVER — The American Library Association (ALA) is pleased to announce the winners of the 2009 Schneider Family Book Awards, which honor an author or illustrator for the artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences. The award was announced Jan. 26, during the ALA Midwinter Meeting in Denver, January 23 - 28.

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

“Piano Starts Here: The Young Art Tatum,” written and illustrated by Robert Andrew Parker and published by Schwartz & Wade Books, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, won the award for young children.

Jazz musician Art Tatum, who was born with limited vision and lost much of it as he grew, never felt sorry for himself. In this fictionalized biography, children learn that Tatum often forgot that “his eyes weren’t good” as he gave himself to his music, because “with his piano, he had everything he needed.”

“Robert Andrew Parker’s words and illustrations have movement and a musical lilt which flow easily and pay respect to a true American icon,” said Award Committee Member Barbara Mates.

Leslie Connor is the winner of the middle-school award for “Waiting for Normal,” published by HarperCollins Children’s Books, a division of HarperCollins Publishers.

Addie has spent most of her twelve years “waiting for normal:” a stable family and a real home. Connor’s resilient heroine uses humor, creativity and her “love of learning” to compensate for her dyslexia. Through music and good friends, Addie discovers that she can accomplish anything.

“Leslie Connor gives refreshingly honest voice to her characters, who always remain true to themselves,” said Award Committee Member Carrie Banks.

The teen award winner is “Jerk, California,” written by Jonathan Friesen and published by Speak, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

After graduating from high school, Sam/Jack begins a cross country quest to learn the truth about his dead father and embraces his inherited Tourette Syndrome. With the help of an old family friend, a quirky car and girlfriend who has troubles of her own, he finds his way to maturity.

“Jonathan Friesen uses his personal experience with Tourette Syndrome to create this strong and original character,” said Award Chair Marti Goddard.

Members of the 2009 Schneider Family Book Award Committee are: Chair Marti Goddard, San Francisco Public Library; Carrie Banks, Brooklyn (N.Y.) Public Library; Toni Bissessar, Arlington (Va.) Public Library; Joan Blaska, Professor Emeritus, St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, Minn.; Danielle Dreger-Babbitt, Consultant, Seattle; Barbara Mates, Cleveland (Ohio) Public Library; and Patricia Steelman, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

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