Books

This year's William Allen White awards are all about the new kid

"Took," a spooky mystery by Mary Downing Hahn, won the William Allen White Children's Book Award for grades six through eight.
"Took," a spooky mystery by Mary Downing Hahn, won the William Allen White Children's Book Award for grades six through eight.

Two books about being a new kid in school are the recipients of the 2018 William Allen White Children's Book Awards, officials announced Monday.

"Fish in a Tree," by Lynda Mullaly Hunt, and "Took," by Mary Downing Hahn 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.

"Fish in a Tree," selected by voters in third through fifth grades, is the story of Ally, a young girl with dyslexia who lands in a new school and hides her inability to read by creating clever and disruptive distractions. A new teacher sees the bright, creative kid underneath the troublemaker, and with his help, Ally learns that her reading disorder is nothing to be ashamed of.

"Took," chosen by readers in sixth through eighth grades, is a spooky mystery. Seventh-grader Daniel and his 7-year-old sister, Erica, move from suburban Connecticut to an abandoned farmhouse in rural West Virginia, where they learn about a "conjure woman" and her resurrected razorback hog, Bloody Bones. According to local legend, the woman abducts a girl every 50 years, so when Erica disappears into the woods one day, Daniel begins to wonder if she has been "took."

Hunt and Hahn have been invited to an awards celebration set for Oct. 6 in Emporia. For that annual celebration of children's literature, students from across Kansas travel to Emporia for special events including lock-ins, author readings and book-signings, as well as a parade through campus to the awards ceremony.

One of this year's finalists in the third- through fifth-grade category was "George," a novel about a transgender fourth-grader that sparked controversy in Wichita and some other Kansas districts.

  Comments