Lower School Librarian Laura Amy Schlitz Wins The 2016 Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction

Congratulations to Park School librarian Laura Amy Schlitz on receiving The 2016 Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction for her latest book, The Hired Girl. Children’s author Scott O’Dell, who wrote Island of the Blue Dolphins, established this award in 1982 to encourage other writers to focus on historical fiction. According to his website, by establishing the prize, O’Dell “hoped to increase the interest of young readers in the historical background that has helped to shape their country and their world.”

While the novel, set in 1911 and presented as Joan’s journal, displays and indeed revels in the classic tropes of the coming-of-age story, it is, the judges noted, very much a book of our time, confronting Joan with questions about prejudice and religious faith and tolerance in ways that speak to readers today without trapping itself into anachronism or wishful thinking about the past. It provides immersive detail about Joan’s circumstances that always serves the character and her story, and not once does that story forget it is Joan herself who is telling it. The judges saw more than a bit of L. M. Montgomery’s Anne Shirley in good-hearted but impulsive Joan, and Schlitz shares Montgomery’s ability to keep our respect for her heroine even while we cringe at some of her more ill-advised actions (a notion to convert the Rosenbach grandchild, for example). Like Joan herself, The Hired Girl is comedic, romantic, and always very real. — Roger Sutton, editor in chief of The Horn Book and committee member for The Scott O’Dell Award

The Hired Girl is in good company — for a list of previous winners and more information about the award, see Mr. O’Dell’s website: http://www.scottodell.com/Pages/ScottO’DellAwardforHistoricalFiction.aspx

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