2020 Children's Book Awards PDF Print Email


2020 Awards Announcements

The Children’s Book Award Committee of the Wisconsin Library Association’s Youth Services Section annually selects outstanding books for youth by Wisconsin-connected authors and awards the Elizabeth Burr/Worzalla Award, Outstanding Books of the Year, and Notable Wisconsin Authors/Illustrators.

Elizabeth Burr/Worzalla Award

Awarded to the most distinguished work in children’s and young adult literature written and/or illustrated by a Wisconsin book creator. The Elizabeth Burr/Worzalla Award is made possible by the Worzalla Publishing Company, Stevens Point, through a grant to the WLA Foundation.

Cracking the BellPhoto of book cover for Cracking the Bell. Student dressed in football gear standing on football field.

Geoff Herbach

Friday Night Lights meets Concussion in this powerful and important novel by Geoff Herbach, author of the Stupid Fast series, exploring the dangerous concussion crisis in football through the eyes of a high school team captain.

Cracking the Bell tackles the timely, hot-button issue of traumatic brain injuries in school sports, including the tough choices many young athletes must make about their health, their futures, and the sports they love.  

Isaiah, a teen growing up in small-town Wisconsin, is a star player on his high school football team. His hard work and talent have earned him his position as defense captain and a scholarship the subsequent fracture of his parents’ marriage, football becomes a safe haven. Football gives Isaiah direction, purpose, and sobriety, but, after a couple concussions, it’s clear it is also negatively affecting his health. But who is Isaiah without football? Without the game, will he fall back into bad habits, once again walking a path toward self-destruction? 

This work of realistic fiction deals honestly--sometimes painfully—with sensitive topics like loss, trauma, and abuse. But always there is a sense of hope, of support among Isaiah’s family and friends. Isaiah’s voice is authentic and compelling, his pain both personal and universal. Cracking the Bell has crossover appeal for teens and adults, sport enthusiasts and non-fans, and readers will root for the scrappy Isaiah as he navigates the game of life.

About the Author

A Wisconsin native, Geoff Herbach is the author of nine novels and one picture book for kids, including the young adult Stupid Fast trilogy, Fat Boy vs. The Cheerleaders, Hooper, and Cracking the Bell. His books have received the Cybil’s Award for best YA fiction, the Minnesota Book Award, Outstanding Book by a Wisconsin author, and have been listed among the year’s best by many organizations, including the American Library Association and the American Booksellers Association. In the past, Geoff wrote and performed comedy and traveled around the country telling weird stories in rock clubs. He’s been at Minnesota State, Mankato teaching creative writing since 2010. He lives in a log cabin with a tall wife.

Notable Wisconsin Author

For her incredible body of work in children’s literature, Wisconsin resident Kashmira Sheth was selected as the 2020 Wisconsin Notable Children’s Author. Sheth has written a variety of stories for kids and teens featuring relatable characters and well-crafted storylines. She has received much acclaim for her writing, including starred reviews, honors, and awards for her works. The Children’s Book Award Committee is delighted to present this award to such a masterful storyteller.

About the Author

Kashmira Sheth is the author of such highly regarded young-adult novels as Blue Jasmine and Koyal Dark, Mango Sweet, as well as the picture book My Dadima Wears a Sari and the new Nina Soni chapter book series. Born in Bhavangar, India, Sheth often incorporates memories of her homeland into her works. "My own journey from India to America and the need to tell that story in order to come full circle with the immigrant experience was a catalyst for my writing," the author stated in an interview on the Debbie Michiko Florence Web site. "I believe it is emotionally exhausting to leave one country and make a home in another. Writing about it has made me a stronger person."

Sheth came to the United States at age seventeen to attend Iowa State University, where her uncle taught. After graduating with a degree in microbiology, she landed a job with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection.  Following the birth of her daughters, Sheth developed an interest in children's literature and began recording her life experiences. Sheth published her debut work of fiction, Blue Jasmine, in 1994, which earned the Paul Zindel First Novel Award.

Since her debut novel, Kashmira has written a highly acclaimed collection of picture books, chapter books, and young adult novels including Keeping CornerBoys Without NamesTiger in My Soup, and more. Her wide-range of award-winning and critically acclaimed writing highlights Indian culture, immigrant stories, sheds light on social justice issues, and emphasizes the power of self-discovery.

Kashmira lives in Madison, Wisconsin, with her family.

Outstanding Books of the Year

Noteworthy honor titles are selected for Outstanding Achievement in children’s literature, written and/or illustrated by Wisconsin book creators. 

  • Birds of a Feather: Bowerbirds and Me written and illustrated by Susan L. Roth
  • The Disaster Days written by Rebecca Behrens
  • The Happy Book: and Other Feelings written and illustrated by Andy Rash
  • Home in the Woods written and illustrated by Eliza Wheeler
  • I am Farmer: Growing an Environmental Movement in Cameroon written by Baptiste and Miranda Paul
  • Nina Soni: Former Best Friend written by Kashmira Sheth
  • Reading Beauty written by Deborah Underwood
  • Snail and Worm All Day written and illustrated by Tina Kügler
  • Sport: Ship Dog of the Great Lakes written by Pamela Cameron and illustrated by Renée Graef
  • Viral: the fight against AIDS in America written by Ann Bausum