Book Award Study

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Book Award Study

Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction

Who Gives the Award: There is a committee of three who collaborate to award one recipient each year the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction.

Background of the Award: The Author, Scott O’Dell, established this award, along with Zena Suthlerland, to encourage more authors to write historical fiction. Mr. O’Dell wants to encourage young readers to develop a greater understanding of society and cultures through reading historical fiction.

Criteria: For a book to be eligible for this award it must have been published within the past year. The book must have a setting in South, Central, or North America. The book must be published by a U.S. Publisher, and written by a U.S. Citizen. One award is given each year.

Past Winners
2012 - Dead End in Norvelt
Gantos, J. (2011). Dead End in Norvelt. Harrisonburg, VA: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

The Story is about a young boy named Jack Gantos, who lives in the poverty stricken western Pennsylvania town of Norvelt in the 1960’s. After being grounded by his parents for what seems to be the whole summer, he is loaned out to his elder neighbor, Miss Volker, to do chores. His job with Miss Volker is to write the obituaries for the town paper. Each obituary comes with a history lesson, which after a while jack seems to thoroughly enjoy. He is also uncovering a murder mystery in town after a series of deaths. The book has a lot more adventures and mystery throughout for young Jack, including lots of bloody noses.

This book fits all the criteria as noted above to be the Scott O’Dell Award recipient for 2012. It is a historical fiction, as many reviewers state “melding the entirely true with the wildly fictional.” The author is a U.S. Citizen and it was published in the U.S. which is all the criteria for award recipients.

2011 - One Crazy Summer

William-Garcia, R. (2010). One Crazy Summer. New York, NY: Harper Collins Three African American sisters from Brooklyn are sent on a plane by their father to spend a month with their wandering poet mother in Oakland, CA. The story is set in Oakland in 1968 right at the height of the Black Panther movement. The mother, Cecille, is completely uninterested at first with having her three daughters with her, who constantly sends them to a Black panther center or to a Chinese restaurant and asks them to stay out as long as possible so she can write poetry. Only one daughter has any slight memory of their mother, Delphine, who has forgotten most of those memories and believed her grandmother who said her mother lived on the streets. This books show you’re the political, cultural, and ethnic issues of the 1960’s by sharing the time period through the eyes of the three sisters.

The criterion for the Scott O’Dell Historical Fiction award is very straight forward and simple. It is published in the U.S. in the prior year, 2010. It has an U.S. citizen as the author, Rita Williams-Garcia. It is set in North America and more specifically Oakland California, and discusses true historical events.

2010 – The Storm in the Barn

Phelan, M. (2009). The Storm in the Barn. Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press.

This book is what is considered a graphic novel, with a large part of the storytelling left to the illustrations. Jack Clark is an 11 year old boy growing up in Kansas in 1937. Jack is growing up during the Dust Bowl in Kansas. It is a trying time for his family, and the town, who are all searching for a solution meanwhile trying to survive in the desolate and dusty wasteland that is Kansas. Jack hears stories from his mother about the past when the land was productive and fertile. Jack’s father believes he cannot do anything so he is excluded from doing chores or having many responsibilities, so Jack has time to explore and tell stories with his friend Ernie. Ernie tells stories about Jack, but as a superhero type, solving all the...
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