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Children’s Books Lauded For Highlighting Disabilities

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Alongside the famed Caldecott and Newbery awards for children’s literature, three books are being honored for focusing on the disability experience.

The books — which include stories of a wounded soldier, a princess with a deformed foot and a look at medical experimentation by Nazi doctors — were named winners of the Schneider Family Book Awards this week.

“A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin” is one of three winners of this year’s Schneider Family Book Awards, which honor children’s books that focus on the disability experience. (Random House)

The honor is presented to authors and illustrators “for a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences.”

Three Schneider awards — one for books aimed at kids up to age 8, another for stories targeted to children ages 9 to 13 and another for teen books — are given annually by the American Library Association at the same time the group awards the Newbery and Caldecott Medals.

The picture book “A Splash of Red: The Life and Art of Horace Pippin,” written by Jen Bryant and illustrated by Melissa Sweet, won in the youngest division of the Schneider awards for depicting the experience of African American folk artist Horace Pippin as he struggles to paint again after being injured in World War I.

“Bryant and Sweet’s stunning picture book biography effectively depicts that perseverance and courage are essential ingredients of living with a disability and realizing your dreams,” said Alyson Beecher, chair of the Schneider awards committee.

Meanwhile, the princess fantasy “Handbook for Dragon Slayers” written by Merrie Haskell won in the middle school division for the tale which follows a long-sheltered princess who ventures out on a dragon-hunting quest despite her physical limitations.

In the teen category, “Rose Under Fire” written by Elizabeth Wein, was honored for depicting a young pilot who is captured by the Nazis and survives with the help of Polish political prisoners who were subjected to medical experimentation by Nazi doctors.

The awards were announced Monday at the American Library Association’s meeting in Philadelphia.

This year’s Newbery Medal for children’s literature went to Kate DiCamillo for “Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures” and the Caldecott Medal, which is given for picture books, went to Brian Floca for “Locomotive.”

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