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Friday, March 30, 2012

Minnesota Book Awards Celebrate Children's Books, too!

By Jan Pease


The list of finalists for the 24th annual Minnesota Book Awards also includes great books for children and young adults. Here are the finalists for the Children’s Literature award, sponsored by Books for Africa.

“BookSpeak! Poems About Books,” was written by Laura Purdie Salas, who says on her web page, “I love living in Minnesota and writing about anything that catches my interest. I get lots of ideas from my daughters, Annabelle and Maddie, and my supportive husband, Randy. It's never the ideas they suggest I write about; it's the funny things they do that get my brain moving.” “In BookSpeak!, 21 wild, wacky, and winsome poems showcase the magic on a single bookshelf. Characters plead for sequels, book jackets strut their stuff and a raucous party starts when the lights go out at the bookstore!”

“Friends: True Stories of Extraordinary Animal Friendships,” written by Catherine Thimmesh, who stated on her website, “My ultimate dream was for a job that didn’t exist: an all-purpose idea-thinker-upper. (My dream was very specific: cool office with toys and gadgets, a chair that swiveled, and clients who paid me to solve their myriad problems with incredibly creative solutions.) I’ve lived my whole life in, or around, Minneapolis, Minnesota. I currently live in Eden Prairie, Minnesota near a small lake with my husband and two children (Jaimie, age 13, and Simon, 11). Writing is my full-time job and I love that I actually did end up being a professional idea-thinker- upper—though just not as I had originally imagined.”

“The Last Day of Kindergarten,” by Nancy Loewen was inspired by her own daughter’s love of Kindergarten and reluctance to leave it for first grade. On her website, Ms. Loewen says she “married (her husband) Bill in 1986. We have two children, Louis and Helena, both teenagers. We live in the Twin Cities with our dog, Dorie; two cats, Cyrus and Obi; and guinea pig, Freddie. My hobbies include reading, cooking, gardening, walking my dog, and playing Sudoku on my phone while I’m waiting in the car for my kids.”

“Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature,” is by author Joyce Sidman. Her award-winning books include "Dark Emperor" (A Newbery Honor Book), “Song of the Water Boatman” and “Red Sings from Treetops” (both Caldecott Honor Books), “Butterfly Eyes” (Cybils Award), and “This Is Just to Say” (Claudia Lewis Poetry Award). She says on her website, “Even though I now live in Minnesota, I'm a Yankee at heart.”

I should thank each of these gifted writers for providing me with this article. Each author has a website that gives glimpses into her life and writing. When I am introduced to a new author, I use a search engine and type in the author’s name. Many authors now connect to their readers through their web pages, Facebook, Twitter, and blogs. Years ago, the only way to contact an author was through a publisher, which was iffy at best. Now direct communication is possible. I hope they don’t feel that we’re intruding, but I love to know that Catherine Thimmesh lives near a lake in Eden Prairie, or that Nancy Loewen has a guinea pig named Freddie.

Watch for the announcement of the winners of the Minnesota Book Awards April 14th. I’ll see you at the library!