Two children’s books win William Allen White awards

Two books about young girls dealing with growing pains are the recipients of the 2011 William Allen White Children’s Book Awards, officials announced Monday.

“11 Birthdays” by Wendy Mass and “Confetti Girl” by Diana Lopez were judged the best by Kansas schoolchildren.

The William Allen White Award program was founded in 1952 and is one of the few book awards decided by young readers. The program is directed by Emporia State University with support from the Trusler Foundation.

“11 Birthdays,” selected by voters in third through fifth grades, is the story of Amanda, who is excited to celebrate her 11th birthday — except the whole day goes wrong, starting with not celebrating with her best friend, Leo. But the next day she wakes up and it’s her birthday again. And again the next day. And the next day.

Mass is a best-selling author of 12 novels for young people, including “A Mango-Shaped Space,” “Leap Day,” “Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life” and “The Candymakers.”

“Confetti Girl,” chosen by readers in sixth through eighth grades, is a story of Lina, a young Latina girl growing up in South Texas whose mother died the year before.

Lopez, the author, used to teach middle school and said she wrote the book with her former students in mind.

Both authors have been invited to an awards celebration set for Oct. 6 in Emporia, which also includes events for schoolchildren such as author readings and book-signings, as well as a parade through downtown Emporia to the awards ceremony.