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Library Holds Cartwheel Book Awards

Feb 29, 2016 06:00AM ● By Amy Bartelloni

Mr. Steve and members of the 2016 Cartwheel Book Awards participants

story & photo by Amy Bartelloni, Contributing Writer

On Friday, January 29, the Bellingham Public Library opened its doors after hours for the 3rd annual Cartwheel Book Awards, a highlight of the reading year for the nineteen participants, as well as the master of ceremonies, Children’s Librarian Steve Fowler.

Dubbed the “middle-grade kids’-choice awards” by Fowler—or Mr. Steve as he’s popularly called—the program, recommended for children aged eight to twelve, has grown in participation every year. For the 2016 awards the participants read ten books over the course of 2015.  The books are chosen each year by Mr. Steve, who bases his selections on their publication date (books for this third awards contest had to be published between September of 2014 and August of 2015), age recommendation, good reviews, and whether he thinks they will be enjoyable.

“You get to read books that you wouldn’t usually read,” explained fourth-grader Jamie Costello, who presented the award for favorite book cover. First-time participant Mallory Berkeley said she loved doing the program and couldn’t wait for the books to be announced, about one each month.

Voting was held on such categories as best written, best ending, and favorite male and female characters. The winners were announced on the awards night, complete with a red carpet.  Presenters were encouraged to dress up, and once again Lynn Scornavacca of Silver Lake Productions was on hand to tape the event and conduct interviews.
“One of the purposes of the event is to bridge the gap between authors who love to write books and children who love to read them,” Mr. Steve explained. Once the winners were selected, he contacted them and asked for an acceptance speech. All of the winning authors sent in something.  Some speeches were read by the presenters, and some authors sent videos that were played at the ceremony. The big winner of the night was Mastermind, by Gordon Kormon, which won for favorite book. Mr. Korman sent in a video explaining to the kids where he had gotten the idea for the middle-grade thriller and how he was inspired by the idea of nature versus nurture.

At the end of the night, trailers for the first four books of the 2017 book awards were played and pizza was served. Registration for next year’s book awards is ongoing, and information can be found on the library’s website at





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