The Children’s Literature Association proudly announces the 2017 Phoenix Award Recipient: Wish Me Luck by James Heneghan, Farrar Straus Giroux, 1997.
James Heneghan’s Wish Me Luck tells the compelling story of a tragic historical event too often ignored: the sinking by the Germans of a ship carrying children whose families had chosen to send them away from the horrors and dangers of war at home in England to the safety of Canada. Told through the eyes of Jamie Monaghan, a sympathetic character who leaves his family and the excitement of war only reluctantly, the novel also introduces Tom Bleeker and his little sister Elsie, neighbors of the Monaghans. Bleeker, as Jamie calls him, is a new arrival from Northern Ireland; his fight with “Stinky” Corcoran, the biggest, toughest kid at St. Oswald’s School in Liverpool, provides a fittingly violent opening to the book. Humor, raw language, and authentic dialect balance the horrors of living close to danger in the daily lives of children, their families, and friends. Heneghan provides a unique perspective on WWII, as he chronicles the children’s lives before, during, and after their experiences aboard the SS City of Benares.
About the Phoenix Award
The Children’s Literature Association, an organization of teachers, scholars, librarians, editors, writers, illustrators, and parents interested in encouraging the serious study of children’s literature, created the Phoenix Award as an outgrowth of the Association’s Touchstones Committee. The award, given to a book originally published in the English language, is intended to recognize books of high literary merit. The Phoenix Award is named after the fabled bird who rose from its ashes with renewed life and beauty. Phoenix books also rise from the ashes of neglect and obscurity and once again touch the imaginations and enrich the lives of those who read them.
The Phoenix Award was designed by Caldecott-winning illustrator Trina Schart Hyman. The magical Phoenix on the award statue was specifically drawn for ChLA. The design was sculpted by Diane Davis, who was trained at the Johnson Atelier and Technical Institute of Sculpture, Princeton. Each brass statue is individually cast and inscribed with the year’s winner.
— Children’s Literature Association