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Children’s book author recognized for work
September 10, 2008

The 2008 Sterling North Award for Excellence in Children's Literature will be awarded to Jacqueline Briggs Martin of Mount Vernon Saturday, Oct. 4, at the Edgerton Sterling North Book and Film Festival in Edgerton, Wis.

The award, sponsored by the Sterling North Society, is named after Sterling North, an Edgerton-area native who wrote the Newberry Honor Book, "Rascal: A Memoir of a Better Era." It recognizes North's dedication to children's books, as well as Martin's outstanding contributions to the field of children's literature.

"Since I was a young child, I have loved the sound of words," Martin said.

Critics have noted a similar lyricism in the writing of both Martin and North. Martin also shares North's ability to inspire young writers with compelling stories about the past, particularly "The Lamp, the Ice and the Boat Called Fish," a story of a shipwreck and survival in the Arctic, and "Snowflake Bentley," which celebrates the life of a 19th Century Vermont farm boy mesmerized by snowflakes and determined to photograph their fleeting beauty.

The third-annual Edgerton book and film festival, to be held Oct. 4 and 5, is a free family event with book and author sessions for people of all ages. On Oct. 4, Martin will receive her award in the Edgerton Performing Arts Center. She will speak there from 4-5 p.m.

An appreciation of the natural world shines forth in stories written by both North and Martin. Just as North wandered the woods of his native Wisconsin, Martin remembers a childhood spent "wandering in the fields and forest of our farm in Maine."

North grew up in the small town of Edgerton. His first poem was published in St. Nicholas magazine when he was eight and his first book was published when he was a junior in college. North devoted his entire life to reviewing and writing books. Martin has been a prolific and much honored author and has taught others the art of writing for children.

North's 1963 book "Rascal," which won a 1964 Newberry Honor, also won young readers' choice awards in eight states ranging from Vermont to Oregon. "Rascal" also won the Aurianne Award and the Dutton Animal Book Award. North's multi-million copy bestseller was named a "notable book" by the American Library Association, was published in translations worldwide, was made into a 1969 movie by Walt Disney and was adapted in the late 1970s for a popular animated cartoon series in Japan.

Martin has won a Golden Kite Honor Award, three Lupine Awards and has been named four times to the Blue Ribbon List of the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books. The American Library Association awarded a Caldecott Medal to Mary Azarian, the illustrator of Martin's "Snowflake Bentley." Martin has taught creative writing at Cornell College, as well as the University of Iowa's Summer Writing Festival.

Arielle North Olson, Sterling North's daughter and an author herself, will introduce Martin at the Edgerton book festival.

"Both my dad and Martin have shown great respect for their young audience, knowing that children deserve the very best in literature," she said.

Caldecott Award-winning illustrator and author Kevin Henkes was presented the first Sterling North Award in 2006, during North's 100th birthday celebration. Ben Logan, author of "The Land Remembers," received the North Award in 2007.

The home where Sterling North and his "ringtailed wonder" pet raccoon Rascal lived until the mid-1920s is at 409 W. Rollin St. in Edgerton. Restored as a museum by the Sterling North Society, the home is open for tours by society members on Sunday afternoons. More information about the museum and the society is available on the group's web site,

More information about the Edgerton Sterling North Book and Film Festival is available at the festival's web site,

For information about Jacqueline Briggs Martin, check out or

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