Something to Strive For

When I was in fifth grade, I fell in love with Mary Downing Hahn’s WWII-era middle-grade novel, Stepping on the Cracks.  I’ve read my book-fair copy many times since then and it never loses its power to make me think about the issues of the time and admire the complexity of her story.  But I also remember noticing something else on that book’s cover: a little gold medal that said “Scott O’Dell Award.”

I was used to seeing gold and silver medals that said “Newbery” or “Newbery Honor,” the highest award given in children’s literature.  But Scott O’Dell?  The guy who wrote Island of the Blue Dolphins?  He has an award named after him?  (At the time, that book didn’t seem reason enough to name an award after its author, especially not an award for one of my favorite books.)

But yes, Scott O’Dell has his own book award.  It’s been given out each year since 1984.  It’s not a memorial award, either.  O’Dell himself set it up as a way to encourage children’s authors of, get this: historical fiction.  An award just for our small but lovely genre of choice.  Certainly something to strive for.

Follow this link for more info on the awards and the books that have won it:’DellAwardforHistoricalFiction.aspx  Some of my favorite honorees include Out of the Dust, Chains, Sarah Plain and Tall, and of course, the 1992 honoree, Stepping on the Cracks.

What are some of your favorites?


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