American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults
Future Reflections
       Convention 2017       NOPBC AWARDS AND OTHER HONORS

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Twig Book Award

Presented by Carol Castellano

Travis Brossard and Mick Szydlowski stand at a podium, holding up their book, The Mission to Cataria.Our next award is the Twig Book Award, given to recognize a book that presents a positive and realistic depiction of blindness. The awards committee invited Anna Hughes to be our chief book reviewer.

Anna is an English teacher with a strong interest in literacy and children's literature. She grew up in Baltimore with a blind brother. Both of her parents worked in the field of blindness, and one of them happened to be our founder and president for twenty-three years, Barbara Cheadle.

The award-winning book is Oskar and Klaus—The Mission to Cataria by Travis Brossard and Mick Szydlowski. The following comments come from Anna Hughes's review.

"Can't you see that the world is a thrilling place?" questions Oskar, a cat who just happens to be blind, as he prepares to embark on a space adventure with his best friend, Klaus.

The Mission to Cataria is written in sparky verse that mirrors the fast-paced action and humor of the feline best friends as they train for their adventure into deep space. The training is no problem for boisterous, Braille-reading Oskar.

The interplay between adventurous Oskar and homebody Klaus is a delight, striking a balance between celebrating the imagination and depicting realistic strategies used by the blind. Independent Oskar takes initiative, solves problems, and develops strong and lasting friendships. Klaus and the other minor characters accept Oskar as a multidimensional feline, exemplifying healthy and positive attitudes toward blindness.
At a time when STEM careers are becoming more and more accessible to the blind, The Mission to Cataria is sure to inspire a new generation of young readers, both blind and sighted. It shows that for anyone, blind or otherwise, there is "no limit to the thrill and wonder of life; all you need is the power of friendship and your imagination."

The plaque I am about to present has a Twig medallion placed against a red velvet background and the name of the book and its authors. Below the medallion are these words:

National Organization of Parents of Blind Children
Twig Book Award
celebrating exemplary literature that bends children's minds
toward understanding, acceptance, and inclusion
of those with blindness

July 2017

Unfortunately, both authors were ill and unable to attend the convention. Accepting the award on their behalf is longtime Federation leader Barbara Walker Loos, who was involved in the project since its inception.

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