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Monday, October 31, 2016

Way beyond 'squiggles' on the page

 “A story is open-ended. A story invites you into it to make your own meaning.” – Katherine Paterson

Best known for children's novels, Paterson celebrates her 84th birthday today.  Over her lifetime she has won two Newbery Medals and two National Book Awards.  Bridge to Terabithia, her most widely read work, was both a Newbery winner and highly controversial at the time it was published (1977) because her youthful protagonists take on themes considered adult in nature.  But, they also learn about triumphing through self-sacrifice and how to deal with death and jealousy.  Although her characters often face dire situations, Paterson writes with compassion and empathy, interlacing her writing with wry wit and understated humor.
“The problem with people who are afraid of imagination,            
 of fantasy,” she said of her detractors, “is that their world becomes so narrow that I don't see how they can imagine beyond what their senses can verify.  We know from science that there are entire worlds that our senses can't verify.”

For her career contribution to "children's and young adult literature in the broadest sense" she won the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award from the Swedish Arts Council in 2006, the biggest monetary prize in children's literature.  Also for her body of work she was awarded the NSK Neustadt Prize for Children's Literature in 2007 and the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal from the American Library Association in 2013.

“Reading asks that you bring your whole life experience and your ability to decode the written word and your creative imagination to the page and be a co-author with the writer,” Paterson said.  “Because the story is just squiggles on the page unless you have a reader.”

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