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23 March 2014 ·

Awards from home – Diamonds are a girl’s best friend

Okay, so the diamonds may be symbolic here!
It’s always a thrill to be nominated for any award, but some awards have an extra sentimental kick for their particular book.  RAVEN’S MOUNTAIN (Australiantitle) or FACING THE MOUNTAIN (Canadian title) is set in the Canadian Rockies, but I wrote it after living in Australia for my whole adult life. So I was a bit nervous about Canadian reviews – and very, very happy to get such lovely ones. Unfortunately wiping out my hard drive last year means that I don’t seem to have copies of them, so you’ll just have to believe me. Normally I get most excited about comments on the actual writing, but this time it was a line from a prestigious journal along the lines of: ‘this Edmonton native demonstrates her knowledge of the mountains.’ 

Well, what do you know! I just googled to see if I could find that quote for you, and though I didn’t find it, discovered that Facing the Mountain was Commended, Best Books for Kids and Teens, Canadian Children’s Book Centre, 2012. 
A nice surprise. And there’s no point in wishing that people would tell authors about awards their books have been listed for or even won. (Though there might be a point in checking my google alerts occasionally.). But if anyone’s wondering – yes, we really do like to know. 
But here’s one I do know about, the one I started writing this blog about: the Saskatchewan Willow Awards. Facing the Mountain is shortlisted for the Diamond Willow category, Gr 4-6. And why is Saskatchewan especially important to me for this book? Because the town Raven grows up in is very likely there. I created it from the Red Deer, Alberta that I lived in as a 7 to 10 year old, but today’s Red Deer is much bigger than the town I had in mind for Raven. And I’d also wanted the distance to the Rockies to be further, so although I never say exactly where on the prairies it is, her fictitious town has wiggled its way across the border to Saskatchewan. 
I won’t be able to attend the Gala for the award announcements, but I’ve sent off a signed copy for one of the prizes for the students attending, and I’ll certainly be there in spirit. I’ll also be looking out for all the other books on the list; there are some wonderful ones there. 

And, nicely timed, here’s a review of the Raven’s Mountain edition from February’s School  Library Journal: 


“After moving unwillingly across the country, Raven and her sister go mountain climbing with their stepdad. Raven is so excited to be the first one to reach the peak that she does a victory dance, causing an avalanche that sends her sliding and traps her sister and stepdad. Hurt, lost, and alone, she must find a way down the mountain. Orr keeps the tension up through first-person narration that allows readers to feel pressure right along with Raven. Because most of the plot involves Raven climbing independently, this is an introspective novel focusing on her ability to overcome this hardship. She is forced into leadership as she moves from self-pity to action. It is refreshing to see a nature adventure with a female protagonist in a genre often flooded with male characters.  “–Carrie Shaurette, Dwight-Englewood School, Englewood, NJ







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Wendy Orr is a Canadian-born Australian writer. Her books for children and adults have been published in 27 countries and won awards around the world. Nim’s Island and Nim at Sea have also become feature films, starring Jodie Foster and Abigail Breslin (Nim’s Island) and Bindi Irwin (Return to Nim’s Island.) Her latest book is Cuckoo’s Flight, a companion to the highly acclaimed Bronze Age novels Dragonfly Song and Swallow’s Dance. Read full bio