Local Professor Names Top Book

An FSU professor with a passion for children's literature has been named to head up the prestigious Newberry Award Committee. That committee selects the best children's book in America.

Eliza Dresang has always loved children's books. The FSU professor has just reached the pinnacle of her career as chair of the Newberry Award Committee. Dresang and 15 other national committee members will have to read every children's book released this year between 600 and 1,000 of them.

"The Newberry Award is something like the Pulitzer Prize or the Nobel Award, something that is a stamp of approval that has had high level consideration and the criteria says this is the most distinguished piece of writing for children in a given year," says Eliza Dresang.

One book a year is chosen to bear the gold seal a seal that can turn the heads of librarians, teachers and parents.

"It'll kind of make me look at it a little more closely and see what a lot of people have recognized, so I think that it's worth looking at," says Doreen.

This week, local book lovers are getting a behind the scenes look at the Newberry as Eliza Dresang leads them through a mock selection process. They're following the same procedure as the real Newberry Committee whose chairwoman is still saying "pinch me."

"There's probably nothing that anyone could offer me to do that I would enjoy more. So, to have to do it as my job is really a delight."

Parents may be interested to know the top children's book in this "mock" process turned out to be "Maggie's Door" by Patricia Reilly Giff. Three others got honorable mentions: King of the Mild Frontier, Tale of Desperaux and Olive's Ocean.

The winner of the real Newberry Award will be announced in January.