2022 Children's Book Awards PDF Print Email


2022 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.

 Pahua and the Soul Stealer by Lori M. Lee

Pahua, an eleven-year-old Hmong American girl, is shy, a bit awkward, and mostly friendless. With her mother always busy with work and her father out of the picture, Pahua gets lost in her imagination, daydreaming adventures with her little brother Matt and her sassy cat Miv, a cat who just happens to be a spirit. In fact, there are a lot of spirits populating Pahua’s world—and only she can seem to see them.

After school one day, Pahua encounters a lonely spirit who turns suddenly vengeful, possessing Matt and leaving him comatose. What does this spirit want with her and her family? Is it possible Pahua isn’t quite the ordinary girl everyone thinks she is? With the help of Miv and Zhong, a young shaman in training, Pahua must find the courage to save her brother’s soul, even if it means plunging into a dangerous otherworld of demons and despair.

Lori M. Lee’s Pahua and the Soul Stealer, another page-turning volume in the “Rick Riordan Presents “series, draws its inspiration from Hmong oral tradition, weaving ancient magic with the relatable concerns of an everyday middle schooler. Overflowing with both humor and heart—and enough creepy vibes to keep you reading at night with the lights on—this middle-grade fantasy novel has the makings of a modern classic.

About the Author: 

Born in the mountains of Laos, Lori M. Lee moved to Oshkosh, Wisconsin when she was three years old. Before arriving in the United States, she temporarily lived in Thailand as a refugee until a Wisconsin family sponsored her family. Lee began writing in grade school, and her first unpublished novel is 300 handwritten pages long. Lee would eventually graduate from University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire with a creative writing degree.  

As a Hmong author, Lee aspires to write books reflective of her heritage. Her middle-grade debut, Pahua and the Soul Stealer, a Rick Riordan Imprint, combines elements of Southeast Asian mythology and fantasy with Hmong Shamanism. Lee strives to create entertaining books where her readers can find escape and refuge while advocating for more Asian diaspora in the publishing world. Pahua and the Dragon Secret is expected to be published in fall 2023. 

In addition, Lee is an author of six young adult books and several short stories. She is a self-proclaimed unicorn aficionado, caps lock writer, and enjoys marathoning television shows. Lee still lives in Wisconsin with her husband, kids, and a shih-tzu.

Notable Wisconsin Author

For her incredible body of work in children’s literature, Deborah Underwood was selected as the 2022 Wisconsin Notable Children’s Author. After spending her early childhood in Madison, WI, Deborah Underwood grew up in Walla Walla, Washington. When she was little, she wanted to be an astronomer. Then she wanted to be a singer. Then she wanted to be a writer.

Ms. Underwood lived in Wisconsin as a small child while her father worked on his PhD in mathematics. After college she became a street musician and then worked in an accounting office typing memos and when the accountants weren’t looking she was writing screenplays.

She then decided to write children’s books. She has authored 28 nonfiction titles. She helped co-write Whoopi Goldberg’s Sugar Plum Ballerinas series, and has 28 picture books to her credit including Outside In a 2021 Caldecott Honor book, which was also a CBAC Honor winner. The CBAC also honored her work Reading Beauty in 2020.

She currently resides in northern California where her cat Bella assists her with writing and has taken credit for the Here Comes Cat series.

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. 

American Betiya By Anuradha D. Rajurkar
Rhino & Dino in: Juice! By Erin Kant Barnard

Butterfly for a King: Saving Hawaiʻi's Kamehameha Butterflies by Cindy Trumbore and Susan L. Roth
Dear Librarian by Lydia M. Sigwarth
We Want Snow: A Wintry Chant by Jamie A. Swenson
Meena Lost and Found by Karla Manternach
Indestructible Object by Mary McCoy
The Fishermen, the Horse, and the Sea by Barbara M. Joosse, illustrated by Renee Graef
The Traveling Camera: Lewis Hine and the Fight to End Child Labor by Alexandra S. D. Hinrichs
365 Days to Alaska by Cathy Carr