On June 12th, I had the pleasure of attending the Judy Lopez Award dinner, celebrating Kate Klise, winner for her book Grounded, and honor book recipients Rita Williams-Garcia (One Crazy Summer), Matthew Kirby (The Clockwork Three), Lewis Buzbee (The Haunting of Charles Dickens), and Jewell Parker (Ninth Ward). Both Kate Klise and Rita Williams-Garcia were there in person to accept their awards. In her very entertaining acceptance speech, Kate Klise told how a middle-school reader had described her book saying that “it was about death, but funny too” and then used that as a tag line in her speech for her view of life in general. She told how, as a child, she dearly wanted to look like Farrah Fawcett but ended up, when her father took her to the local barber, with a haircut more like that of one of the Beatles. Now, with gorgeous long blonde hair, she definitely looks much more like Farrah Fawcett! I was lucky to sit at the same table as Rita Williams-Garcia and learned that her daughters may have helped inspire the characters in her book. For those of us who lived through the sixties, her book, One Crazy Summer, about the Black Panther breakfast program in Oakland, brought back memories of items seen on the news, but now viewed through the eyes of children. It is no wonder that the book has received so many awards!
The Judy Lopez Awards are given by the Women’s National Book Association/Los Angeles Chapter. They are granted annually to works of literary excellence for nine- to twelve-year-olds.