On Monday, the American Library Association announced this year’s children’s literature awards, which are basically the Oscars, the Grammys, the Emmy Awards in my profession. I hadn’t given even a passing thought to winning anything this year, because I have been trained by a lifetime of non-winnerhood. But then, on Sunday, while I was frying up some parsley potatoes to go along with dinner, the phone rang. My son answered, and told the person on the other end that I was too busy to come to the phone. She replied, “Your Dad will want to take this call …”
She was right — I did want to take that call, because she and the rest of the Schneider Family Book Award committee were there on speakerphone to tell me that After Ever After was this year’s middle grade winner of the award:
which is given to “honor an author or illustrator for a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences.” Thrilling for me, because it gets right to the heart of what I was trying to do when I wrote the book.
I’m not kidding about the non-winnerhood, by the way. I mean, I have never found anything larger than a one-dollar bill on the sidewalk. I’ve never won even a measly buck on a scratch-off lottery ticket. And when I was a kid, I went to a small summer camp that had maybe 60 campers. At the end of the summer, the counselors gave out something like 40 trophies to the campers who were good at anything from archery to waterskiing. I was a camper there for six years, and became probably the only long-term camper in the place’s history who never won a trophy.
Hence, my excitement at this phone call. Now and forever, I have won a national award. Bestowed by experts. For something about which I care with a burning passion. The best part? I didn’t even burn the potatoes.