WASHINGTON, DC, Sep 24 – Like a River: A Civil War Novel, a work of historical fiction by Kathy Cannon Wiechman, has been selected to receive the 2015 Grateful American™ Book Prize, it was announced here today.
David Bruce Smith, co-founder of the Prize, said that the Civil War novel was chosen by the award’s panel of judges because “it is an exemplar of what the Prize is all about—to encourage authors and publishers to produce fiction and nonfiction that accurately depict the past as a means of engaging young readers in American history. Like a River is a page-turner about the plights of a pair of teens—on the battlefield—caught up in the conflict between the states. To call it riveting is a disservice. The book rouses the emotions of its readers in a way that leaves them wanting to learn more about that critical era in the evolution of the country. It goes beyond the dry retelling of the Civil War that often puts students to sleep at their desks during history class.”
Author Wiechman promptly responded to the news, noting that it was her love – and her family’s love – of their American heritage that piqued her interest to write about American history.
“My passion for US History came during my school years, not from history class, but from reading biographies and historical fiction, books that made history come alive. When I write, my goal is to make history live and breathe for today’s readers the way it does for me. Having Like a River honored by this inaugural award gives me hope that I can accomplish that goal,” she said.
Wiechman pointed out that her “love of country was instilled in me at a young age by my parents. My father, who proudly served in the US Army Air Corps, flew the American flag in the front yard every day. My immigrant mother reminded me often that I was fortunate to have been born an American, and daily news adds exclamation points to her words. My parents would be enormously proud.”
The Prize, which will be presented to the author at an October 22 reception at President Lincoln’s Cottage in Washington, comes with a cash award of $13,000 representing the original 13 colonies. In addition, Wiechman will receive a medal created for the occasion by Mr. Smith’s mother, the noted artist Clarice Smith.
Two additional authors and their books will also be acknowledged at the event with Honorable Mention Certificates, Darlene Beck Jacobson’s novel, Wheels of Change, which confronts Washington DC’s racial turbulence during Theodore Roosevelt’s presidency, and Michaela MacColl’s, The Revelation of Louisa May, a deftly appealing combination of actual events and history culled from the life of Louisa May Alcott.
Carolyn Yoder, Wiechman’s editor at Calkins Creek, an imprint of Highlights, had this to say about Like a River: “(Kathy’s) words have the power to transport—taking readers deep inside nineteenth-century America when the country was torn apart by civil war. With a distinct southern voice that can move swiftly and slowly, like a river, Kathy is dedicated and passionate about creating an accurate and emotional—and most important, relatable—portrait of the past for young readers. Leander and Paul are real teenagers with joys and pains and desires. The world of Like of River is not dry and distant but vividly alive.”
In addition to David Bruce Smith, the panel of judges for the Prize included co-founder Dr. Bruce Cole, the former chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Dr. Rod Paige, former U.S. Secretary of Education, Dr. Louise Mirrer, President and CEO, New-York Historical Society, Dr. Douglas Bradburn, author, historian and Founding Director of the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon, and John Danielson, founder of Chartwell Education Group and former Chief of Staff at the U.S. Department of Education.