My favorite words of wisdom for the evening came from Ms. Just. She told us to cultivate that thing inside of us that is original, that is ourselves. It is worth standing above the fray and not being just like everyone else. That's what people look for. And as Cat Urbain emphasized, don't give up: the world will eventually recognize true spark and embrace it.
My hearty congratulations go to:
- this year's winners: Anne Kubitsky (illustrated picture book), Betsy Devany MacLeod (middle grade novel), and Steve Parlato (young adult novel);
- this year's honorable mentions: Justin Van Deursen (illustrator's portfolio); and Faith Hough (young adult novel);
- this year's finalists: Jordan Fenster, Maribel Girnius, Paula Wilson (picture book text); Jennifer Edwards, Natalie Fifer, Katherine Kopcha (illustrated picture book); Karen Lindeborg, Kate Lynch, Traci Grigg, Heather DiLorenzo (middle grade novel); and Leslie Cahill-Milford (young adult novel).