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"I enjoyed being frightened," says Betty Ren Wright. "When I was a little girl, I loved ghost stories and mysteries, and I was disappointed if, in the last chapter, the ghost turned out to be no ghost at all. I never wanted the strange noise in the attic to be tree branch scraping the roof. I wanted it to be a ghost!"

This author, indeed, loves ghost stories and writes many of them. Her list includes "Christina's Ghost," "A Ghost in the House," "A Ghost in the Window," "The Ghost of Ernie P.," "Ghosts Beneath Our Feet" as well as the 1995 Utah Children's Book Award Winner, "The Ghosts of Mercy Manor."In this 1993 favorite of Utah children, an orphan tries to uncover the truth of a ghost's untimely death. It's a scary tale, and one fifth-grader told me it was "super scary! . . . the best ghost story I've ever read!"

"Amazing Gracie," voted the best young adult novel, is about a high-school sophomore who deals with a mixed family: a mother who suffers from depression, a newly acquired brother and stepfather. Besides the national honors that this book has won, "Amazing Gracie" appears on reading lists and is liberally quoted in texts of young adult literature.

Utah-writer A.E. Cannon's first novel, "Cal Cameron by Day, Spider-Man by Night," won the Fifth Annual Delacorte Press Prize for an Outstanding First Young Adult Novel and high acclaim for the subsequent book, "The Shadow Brothers."

Eleanor Coerr was living in Japan with her husband when she first learned about Sadako, the child who died after the bombing of Hiroshima. Her first novel, "Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes," won honors from the American Library Association and many humanitarian awards.

The novel became a classic, and when it was to become a film version, Ed Young, Caldecott medalist, was commissioned to do the art work. Young created nearly 300 paintings for the film, which won national film and video honors as well as American Educational plaudits.

Selected from that number of pastels were a few pieces that accompanied the next text written by Coerr for "Sadako." This is the book that children throughout Utah considered their favorite informational book for 1995.

A new award, the Utah Children's Picture Book Award, has been established for readers (and listeners) in kindergarten through grade three for the coming year.

The lists for the four 1995-96 Book Award nominee titles appeared in this column March 21-22. If you need another list, send a SASE to me, in care of the Deseret News (P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, UT 84110) or contact a library or bookstore in your area. They will have the lists and books on display.



Utah's 1995 book awards

The Children's Literature Association of Utah has announced the following winners of the Book Awards for 1995:

"The Ghosts of Mercy Manor" by Betty Ren Wright (Scholastic, 1993) received the Children's Book Award.

A.E. Cannon was given the Young Adult Award for "Amazing Gracie" (Delacorte, 1991).

"Sadako," a picture book by Eleanor Coerr, illustrated by Ed Young, (Putnam, 1993) was honored as the Informational Book of the year.

More than 5,000 votes were tallied throughout the 1994-95 school year by Utah elementary and secondary grade readers to designate these winners. A total of 157 elementary schools, 15 secondary schools and 10 public library systems throughout the state participated in the judging.

- Marilou Sorensen