The 2015 Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction goes to Dash, by Kirby Larson, published by Scholastic Press.
While Mitsi is going to miss spending time with her beloved dog Dash now that Christmas vacation is over, she is looking forward to seeing her best buds Mags and Judy. Mitsy thought the trio would always be inseparable, “like Betsy, Tacy, and Tib in those books,” but fifth-grade feels like a different place now, where Mags and Judy shun her and classmate Patty calls her a Jap. It’s January, 1942, and school scapegoating is the just the first hardship Mitsi Kashino and her Japanese-American family will encounter.
The judges were impressed by the deceptive ease with which Larson maintained all the pleasures of a school-and-family (and dog!) story while also providing an honest and intimate account of the prejudice and mistreatment faced by Japanese Americans during World War II. When Mitsi has to leave Dash in the care of a neighbor when the Kashinos are sent from Seattle to an internment camp, readers feel at once the personal sorrow and historical injustice. Are the two reunited? Of course they are: any less would be a disservice to readers who have come to love them both.
The Scott O’Dell award, created by Scott O’Dell and Zena Sutherland in 1982 and now administered by Elizabeth Hall, carries with it a prize of $5000, and goes annually to the author of a distinguished work of historical fiction for young people published by a U. S. publisher and set in the Americas. The winner is chosen by a committee appointed by Elizabeth Hall; its members are Ann Carlson, librarian at the Oak Park-River Forest High School; Deborah Stevenson, editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books; and, as chair, Roger Sutton, editor in chief of The Horn Book. For more information about Scott O’Dell and the Scott O’Dell Award please visit scottodell.com.