Wednesday, December 10, 2014

FOCAL Luncheon Honoring H. Joseph Hopkins, Author of TREE LADY

H. Joseph Hopkins with puppet of Kate Sessions created by Jesse Kingsley
On Saturday, December 6th, 2014, the annual luncheon honoring the winner of the FOCAL Award was held at the Border Grill in downtown Los Angeles across the street from the Los Angeles Central Library. As always, it was a gala event with delicious food, great company, and an inspiring program. The tables were decorated with wonderful centerpieces created by students of art teacher Ray Moszkowicz at Noble Middle School after reading The Tree Lady.  A looping slideshow created by Mara Alpert at LAPL of past FOCAL winners played at the front of the room.
Centerpiece depicting Kate Sessions planting a tree created by Noble Middle School students
As a member of the award committee I had the pleasure of sitting at the head table with the author, H. Joseph Hopkins, and the four winners of the essay contest, who had won the opportunity to meet the author and engage him conversation over lunch. The students (grades 3, 4, 5 and 8) read their essays as part of the program. I was impressed at the excellent job the students had done. As one of them wrote: "Kate Sessions was a woman with guts." Clearly she is a role model.
Tribute to Puppeteer Carol Onofrio
A special part of the program this year was a tribute to puppeteer Carol Onofrio who, until this year, had created all the puppets inspired by the winning book–one to give to the author and another for the permanent collection of the Children’s Literature Department of LAPL’s Central Library.  Sadly, Carol passed away this past year.  This year’s puppet, a wonderful rendition of Kate Sessions, the “tree lady” of the book, was created by Jesse Kingsley. After receiving the award, H. Joseph Hopkins gave a presentation about how he created the book and about the life of Kate Sessions.
Renny Day, VP Correspondence and Membership, and Caroline Gill, President of FOCAL
After four years as part of the FOCAL Award Committee and I am going to miss reading the books and going to the meetings. But I will always look forward to the luncheon. And I want to thank the award committee and  Caroline Gill, Renny Day and all the members of the FOCAL Board for all the hard work that makes the luncheon such a success and one of the highlights of my year.

The FOCAL Award was instituted in 1980 and is presented annually for a book of merit that features some aspect of California history and/or geography.
Friends of Children and Literature (FOCAL) is a support group of the LAPL Children’s Literature Department at the Central Library.

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