Alaska Forget-Me-Not Award was presented to Mindy Dwyer in Anchorage by the Alaska State Literacy Program.

An Alaskan teacher used Aurora: A Tale of the Northern Lights as a mentor text with her 2nd graders, focusing on vocabulary, narrative writing, and story retelling. The children got excited about the word choices and how the illustrations helped them to understand the meaning of the words. They wrote letters to the Alaska State Literacy Council selection committee in support of the nomination for the Forget Me Not Award 2014 and here are a few excerpts:

“Our class read Aurora: A Tale of the Northern Lights by Mindy Dwyer. She’s a great children’s author. Her illustrations match her words! She has great ideas, and her illustrations ‘pop.’”

“We loved it. I liked when the lights looked like a rainbow in the background.”

“And her book just described the colors she was using, for example indigo… the color of the inside of a blueberry! …the color of the sky in the darkness.”

“Her illustrations were very colorful. With all the bright colors it was beautiful.”

The Alaska State Literacy Association is committed to promoting literacy and to developing communities of lifelong learners and informed decision makers. In support of that commitment, each year ASLA honors an Alaskan author whose published work about Alaska, either fiction or nonfiction, makes an outstanding contribution to children’s literature. The selection criteria is based on one specific work by an author who lived in Alaska at the time the book was written. The book must have an Alaskan theme and be nominated by a member.

I was awarded the Forget Me Not Award in February along with a trip to Anchorage to attend the ASLA professional development session with literacy workshops, and received a Forget Me Not pin in a shadow box with engraved placard. The speaker was Doug Fisher, specializing in “close reading,” or how to understand complex texts. He supports student collaboration, teaching with the new standards, and using technology. He has published several books including Text Complexity: Raising Rigor in Reading that was used in the session. More about this style of teaching here.

Alaskan art students send northern lights love

Children of the Ravenwood Elementary School in Eagle River  created a northern lights sculpture as a gift to Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut along with a copy of my book,  Aurora, A Tale of The Northern Lights.

Colorful beads strung on copper wire dance across a painted wood sculpture adding the right amount of sparkle and magic — the sparkle and magic being an important part of the northern lights experience.

Students of Ravenwood Elementary  painted ordinary wooden paint sticks with acrylic paint under the guidance of their brilliant art teacher. Once assembled into a rolling staircase shape, silver paint was applied by using a cardboard stencil to create movement with waving shimmering highlights.

“We chose the theme of the northern lights because it makes people feel good when they see it and it looks like dancing spirits,” said a PTA board member and parent involved in the project. She sent photos of the work in progress as the students painted the wooden sticks. It was just great to get the email. When I lived in Alaska I spent many hours as an Artist-in-the-School working with students on art projects to inspire them to write their own stories.

The students hoped that the book and the art would bring a little “northern lights” feeling of love from Alaska to the staff and students of Sandy Hook.

Thank you, students of Ravenwood for your generous creativity and for including my book in your gift to Sandy Hook Elementary. I am honored.

Anchorage CHildren's Ballet

These are dancers from the Anchorage ballet performing Aurora. Watch the dancers:

Wow! Aurora and I have made a contribution to children’s literature and won’t be forgotten.