Friday, January 21, 2005

Schneider Family Book Award

ALA gave a new award this year, the Schneider Family Book Award, which "which honors an author or illustrator for a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences." I am not familiar with the winners of the young child or middle school category but the teen category winner is one of my favorite books, Things Not Seen by Andrew Clements, 2002.

All teens think they are not listened to. The character Mia, in The Princess Diaries, complains that she is invisible. What if you looked in the mirror one morning and really could not see yourself? That is what happens to Bobby. He can see the towel he is holding but not himself.

A great scene follows when he goes to the kitchen and talks to his parents who do not even realize he is invisible for a few minutes. Worried about what might happen if his condition is found out, his parents tell him to stay home while they figure out what to do. When his parents are in a car accident Bobby has to fend for himself. He begins to move around the city, relishing his invisible and "au natural" state. He visits a library and makes friends with another teenager named Alicia who does not know he is invisible because she is blind.

It is a terrific and imaginative story. Clements has a fine ear and feel for the sometimes edgy relationships between adults/teachers and kids. It is wonderful to see him receive this recognition.

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