Announcing the Emmanuel's Dream audiobook!

Emmanuels Dream cover with sticker

Emmanuels Dream cover with sticker
I have some great news to share today! I’m thrilled to announce that Listening Library at Penguin Random House Audio will be producing an Emmanuel’s Dream audiobook edition!! This is super exciting to me for two reasons:
First, I love listening to audiobooks! I listen when I’m walking the dog, driving, doing housework, basically anytime it isn’t practical to have my nose in a book. 😂  So trust me when I say that having one of my books be made into an audiobook makes me squeal for joy and bust out my happy dance!
The second reason, however, is far more important. Emmanuel’s Dream was awarded the 2016 American Library Association’s Schneider Family Book Award for embodying “an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences.” One of the things that moved me most about winning the award was learning that it meant that a braille edition of Emmanuel’s Dream would be released. That still left some readers out, sadly, and I’ve been dreaming of an audiobook ever since. Having an Emmanuel’s Dream audiobook edition means more access for more people. It means those with vision impairments can hear Emmanuel’s inspiring story of social action. It means emerging readers or readers with learning disabilities such as dyslexia can listen to Emmanuel’s example of perseverance in the face of challenges. It means all children everywhere will have another way to appreciate Emmanuel’s message of accepting everyone’s diverse gifts.
So, it is with great pleasure that I can now say the Emmanuel’s Dream audiobook is scheduled to be released on January 26, 2021, and you even can preorder it RIGHT NOW!
I’m looking forward to working with the team at Listening Library, and I’ll be sure to share further details (like who will be narrating!) as soon as I get them.
Penguin Random House Audio header

Emmanuel's Dream wins CA Young Reader Medal!

A few weeks ago I was honored to travel to Pasadena, CA, to the California Library Association conference to receive the California Young Reader Medal for Emmanuel’s Dream. This is a very special award because the winning book in each category is chosen by the kids themselves.
First, the award tea itself. There were teas and sandwiches and all kinds of yummies, and look at the lovely decorations:

stage decorations
The edge of the stage, with the book covers and other images inspired by the stories.

cup and saucer with tiny bicycle and horse
Bicycles for Emmanuel’s Dream, horses for The War that Saved My Life.

It was fun hearing the other speakers and getting to chat with the librarians during the book signing. And it all came with an honest-to-goodness medal!

front of medal
The front of the medal.

back of medal
The back of the medal.

After the ceremony, I had some time to walk around and explore the city. The weather was perfect, and Pasadena is lovely.

Quote on electrical box
I loved the quotes painted onto the electrical boxes!

I stumbled upon a street fair in honor of Day of the Dead. There were many talented artists selling their wares, vendors, music, dancing, a puppet show, and chalk art! There were a lot of people out and about enjoying the festive atmosphere.

chalk artist at work
A chalk artist at work during the street fair.

A bearded dragon named Robert, enjoying the street fair with his pet boy.

I, of course, had to visit the local independent bookstore, Vroman’s!

bookstore shelves
A nice display at Vroman’s

The nice young women working there recommended Trejo’s Cantina for dinner, and it was so delicious!
Mexican rice bowl
Delicious dinner at Trejo’s Cantina!

The Vroman’s gals also told me not to miss the new ice cream shop in town, Wanderlust, which features flavors based on exotic travel destinations. They had me at ice cream! It was well worth the walk. I chose honey lavender, and it was divine.
So many interesting flavors!

As you can see, it was an amazing trip. Thank you so much, California young readers! 🙂

Good news for Emmanuel's Dream

It is so hard for me to believe that I’m still getting good news about Emmanuel’s Dream more than three years after it was published! I thought I’d share some of the most exciting bits with you here:
LittleFreeLibrary Action Book Club logoFirst, you’ve heard of little free libraries, right? Have you heard about the Little Free Library organization? If not, definitely check them out, here. They are doing all kinds of great things, but perhaps my favorite is their Action Book Club™. In a new twist on the traditional book club, this partnership between Little Free Libraries and Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) invites participants to read books on timely topics, engage in lively discussions, and take part in meaningful—and fun—group service projects to benefit their communities. How is that for combining two of my favorite things: reading and social engagement!? Plus, Action Book Club members can share their experiences online, which helps spread a ripple effect of positive activity across the country and around the world. I love everything about this idea, so it was super exciting to learn that Little Free Library selected Emmanuel’s Dream for their current Action Book Club theme of Everyday Heroes, “which celebrates acts of bravery, character, and kindness that transform our world in ways big and small.”
Illinois Monarch Award logoSecond, the Illinois School Library Media Association (ISLMA) announced that Emmanuel’s Dream is included on their 2019 Monarch Award Master List. This means that students and their teachers in participating schools will be encouraged to include Emmanuel’s Dream and the 19 other titles on the master list in their reading or listening experiences during the school year, and then students will vote for their favorite! The author and illustrator of the book receiving the highest number of votes in the statewide balloting will be declared the winners of the Monarch Award and will be invited to attend the ISLMA conference and participate in programs to feature and honor him or her. Squee! I love the ones where students get to vote. Everyone wins!
El Sueno de Emmanuel coverLast, but not least, I’m thrilled that the Spanish edition of Emmanuel’s Dream is not only available, but it’s available for readers of Spanish who live here in the U.S., too! A huge thanks to Mensajero for making this edition possible and spreading Emmanuel’s inspiring story.
That’s all for now. Thanks so much for reading. =D
 

More good news from Brooks Global and Emmanuel's Dream

Several weeks ago I wrote about a school in North Carolina, Brooks Global Studies, which had selected Emmanuel’s Dream as their all-school read and then had Emmanuel come visit them in person! (If you haven’t seen it yet, please go check out the video. It’s pretty amazing!)
Recently, I came across this additional piece of the story, which I hadn’t been aware of… In addition to the shared reading experience and the inspirational visit from Emmanuel, the Brooks Global Studies school community took things one step further by organizing a charity bike drive and were able to collect 210 donated bicycles! The bikes will be shipped to Ghana, refurbished by a repair shop operated by people with disabilities, and then put up for sale there.
What an inspiring, rewarding event for everyone involved. Way to go, Brooks Global Studies! Click here to read the full article, and be sure to scroll through the picture slideshow!

H. Scott Hoffmann/Greensboro News & Record

Emmanuel's Dream as an all-school read

Last year, Emmanuel’s Dream made its way to Cumberland Road Elementary in Fishers, Indiana, as their all-school read, a book selected to be incorporated across the curriculum in all grade levels. The school describes itself as “a school committed to inclusivity and global connectedness,” and they thought Emmanuel’s true story would be a good fit. Students and teachers read the book. I did virtual visits via Skype to answer the students’ questions and hopefully deepen the experience for them. And then everything came together in a serendipitous but impactful event for the entire school community! Here’s a photo from their event:

Emmanuel in front of a sign the children made
Yes, Emmanuel himself showed up, mid-way through his ride across the U.S.!

For the whole article, click here.
More recently, Brooks Global Studies in North Carolina also chose Emmanuel’s Dream as their all-school read! Their mission is to have their studies lead students to “understand how their actions as individuals impact the larger community of their classroom and the school, just as the actions of a single country affects the world.” Again, students and teachers read the book, and I called in via Skype to answer questions from students. And once again, students were in for an exciting surprise, when Emmanuel himself arrived, this time all the way from Ghana! It was a special treat for me, too, since I had a chance to talk to him during one of the Skype sessions.
Here’s a video they made of the inspiring event:
I love seeing how Emmanuel is connecting with kids and inspiring them to follow their dreams! Don’t you?

More good news for Emmanuel's Dream!

Great news: Emmanuel’s Dream has been selected to the 2017 IBBY Outstanding Books for Young People with Disabilities!
2017 IBBY Selection catalog cover
Every two years, the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) chooses outstanding books for and about children and young people with disabilities. This biennial selection draws attention to books published around the world, in an extensive variety of languages and formats, that address special needs and situations and which encourage inclusion at every level. Books selected as 2017 outstanding titles are featured in a print catalogue that will be launched at this year’s Bologna Children’s Book Fair in Italy on Monday, April 3rd. Outstanding titles become part of The IBBY Collection of Books for Young People with Disabilities, a one-of-a-kind resource. Consisting of 4,000 multilingual books, the IBBY collection is located at North York Central Library in Canada, part of the Toronto Public Library.
Thanks, IBBY!!

Celebrate Inclusive Schools Week!


Schools across the country are observing Inclusive Schools Week this week. According to the Inclusive Schools Network:

Inclusive Schools Week is an annual event sponsored by the Inclusive Schools Network (ISN) and Stetson & Associates, Inc., which is held each year during the first full week in December. Since its inception in 2001, Inclusive Schools Week has celebrated the progress that schools have made in providing a supportive and quality education to an increasingly diverse student population, including students who are marginalized due to disability, gender, socio-economic status, cultural heritage, language preference and other factors. The Week also provides an important opportunity for educators, students and parents to discuss what else needs to be done in order to ensure that their schools continue to improve their ability to successfully educate all children.
This year, the Inclusive Schools Week’s theme focuses on the concept of being a hero. This is particularly fitting because the definition of a hero, a person noted for courageous acts of nobility of character, resonates with all of the students, parents, teachers, principals and community leaders who take courageous steps forward each day to promote acceptance for all. The path toward more inclusive educational services has been challenging, yet rewarding. This year, we will focus on the steps along this journey and consider the courage it requires.

Now that’s a mission I can get behind, and I think my book Emmanuel’s Dream, about one of my personal heroes, fits this theme perfectly! Emmanuel is not only a person with a disability, but he’s dedicated his life to creating an inclusive school for students with disabilities and without and his home country of Ghana.
Inclusive Schools Network has more great ideas and resources for celebrating Inclusive Schools Week here.
And Savanna Flakes has some other great suggestions for all ages here on MultiBriefs: Exclusive.
 

Emmanuel's Dream a WA State Book Award Finalist!

Washington State Book Awards logoThe Washington Center for the Book announced the Washington State Book Award finalists for 2016, and I’m honored to say that Emmanuel’s Dream is among the three finalists for the Scandiuzzi Children’s Book Award in the Picture Book category!
The Washington Center for the Book at The Seattle Public Library announces the Washington State Book Awards finalists in eight categories for outstanding books published by Washington authors in the previous year. This is the 50th year of the program, formerly called the Governor’s Writers Awards. The book awards are given based on the strength of the publications’ literary merit, their lasting importance, and their overall quality to an author who was born in Washington state or is a current resident and has maintained residence here for at least three years.
Winners will be announced at the awards celebration, held from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 8, at the Central Library. The awards program will feature emcee Frances McCue, an award-winning poet and arts administrator who received the Washington State Book Award for poetry in 2011 for “The Bled.” The program also features brief readings from 2016 winning titles. A reception and book signing will follow in the Living Room on Level 3 of the Central Library. The awards and celebration are sponsored by The Seattle Public Library Foundation.
Congratulations to all of the finalists, especially to friends Deborah Underwood, Martha Brockenbrough, Kelly Jones, and Jessixa Bagley!

Wonderful news for Emmanuel's Dream!

There’s been a bunch of exciting news regarding Emmanuel’s Dream lately, and I wanted to share it all with you…

First, it was recently selected as a Notable Book in the Children’s Africana Book Awards! One of my all-time favorite picture books—One Plastic Bag by Miranda Paul—was similarly recognized, which makes this honor even more special.

 
Emmanuel’s Dream was also listed in the CCBC Choices 2016 by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center and in the Bank Street College of Education’s Best Children’s Books of the Year for ages 5-9!

It was a finalist for the 2015 CYBILS (Children’s and Young Adult Bloggers’ Literary) Awards in the Elementary/Middle Grade Non-Fiction category. I’ve helped judge this category several times, but obviously had to bow out this year! Since I know firsthand what a thorough, careful job the judges do to select the finalists, it was truly a thrill to have my book recognized for this award.

 
Emmanuel’s Dream has started showing up on some state lists around the country, too, which means even more kids will be reading it. That’s super exciting! Some of the state honors I’m aware of so far include:

 
Last, but certainly not least, I’ve learned that Emmanuel’s Dream will be published in Korean! One thing I always dreamed of was having my books published in another country, and now I’ve got two (a Japanese version of My Dog Is the Best should be coming soon, too).

An ALA Schneider Family Award for Emmanuel's Dream

Schneider Award
This is old news at this point, but I’ve been so busy that I’m just now FINALLY getting around to posting it here. So, just in case you’ve been too busy to keep up with the news in the children’s literature industry, Emmanuel’s Dream has won the Schneider Family Book Award from the American Library Association! The purpose of this special award is to “honor an author or illustrator for the artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences,” so I’m extremely honored that the committee selected Emmanuel’s Dream.
Emmanuels Dream cover with stickerThis and other Youth Media Awards were announced on January 11, 2016, during the American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Meeting & Exhibits in Boston and via live stream. Here in the Pacific Northwest, we have to get up at 5am to catch them, but it was definitely worth it! The award itself will be presented in Orlando during the ALA Annual Conference & Exhibition in June, and both Sean and I are both expecting to be able to attend.
Recipients are selected in three categories: birth through grade school (age 0–8), middle grade (age 9–13) and teens (age 14–18). Emmanuel’s Dream won the award for young children, which was the very first award to be announced in the entire program. Next up was Fish in a Tree, which won a middle-grade award. This only added to my excitement, as it was written by my friend and agency sister Lynda Mullaly Hunt!
Schneider Award flowersThank you to all of the members of the 2016 Schneider Family Book Award committee, including Alyson Beecher (committee chair), Nancy L. Baumann, Betsy Fraser, Beth McGuire, Elsworth Rockefeller, Joanna Tamplin, Caroline Ward, and Jill Garcia! I’m especially grateful to Katherine Schneider and the Schneider family for sponsoring this important award. It is such a huge honor to receive it, and I hope it will help the book find its way into the hands of more kids who need to hear its message. Thank you also to my fantastic agent, Ammi-Joan Paquette, for believing in this story; to Sean Qualls, for illustrating it so beautifully; and to everyone at Schwartz & Wade/Random House for all of their hard work and dedication, which made it into the book it is today. And look, they even sent me some gorgeous flowers to celebrate!
Notables SealOn the heels of the Schneider Family Award, it was also announced that Emmanuel’s Dream was included on the ALA ALSC’s Notable Children’s Books list. Each year a committee of the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) identifies the best of the best in children’s books. According to the Notables Criteria, “notable” is defined as: Worthy of note or notice, important, distinguished, outstanding. As applied to children’s books, notable should be thought to include books of especially commendable quality, books that exhibit venturesome creativity, and books of fiction, information, poetry and pictures for all age levels (birth through age 14) that reflect and encourage children’s interests in exemplary ways. It’s an incredible honor to see Emmanuel’s Dream on that list of amazing books! Thank you, ALSC!
 

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