Local author Ginger Hodge is getting national recognition for her first book, "When Donkeys Fly," first published last summer.
The book has been awarded a 2009 Mom's Choice Gold Award for Inspirational/Motivational Children's Picture Books. The Mom's Choice Awards were founded seven years ago by Tara Patterson, who also started the Just For Moms Foundation. Every year, a panel of judges including people like "Reading Rainbow" founder Dr. Twila Liggett, "Baby Einstein" creator Julie Aigner-Clark, best selling author Jodee Blanco and "Chicken Soup for the Soul" co-author LeAnn Thieman, sift through thousands of entries in a multitude of categories to choose worthy projects, according to Executive Director Dawn Matheson.
"Each product is evaluated on its own merits," Matheson said. "They're competing against our standard, not the other entries."
Hodge's book was among more than 1,200 entries for the inspirational/motivational children's picture book category. The judging is based on a proprietary formula, so Matheson said she couldn't discuss it in detail, but the judges evaluate each entry in nine areas: purpose; content; quality of illustrations; creativity; originality; interest and appeal to its stated audience; if it has a moral or lesson; quality of production; and value.
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To win a gold award, the product must score 90 percent or higher and every entry is judged by at least five judges, Matheson said.
"We're like the 'Good House Keeping' Seal of Approval or 'Better Homes and Gardens,'" she said.
Hodge learned of the MCA through the Independent Publishers Association, of which she is a member (Hodge published "When Donkeys Fly" herself).
"We saw the Mom's Choice Awards and figured we couldn't go wrong," Hodge said. "Then we saw who the judges were and we were really excited."
Hodge's friend C.B. Markham provided the illustrations for the book and deserves much of the credit for the award, Hodge said.
She has gone through most of the first printing of "Donkeys," a total of 5,000 books, and plans to print a second edition in the spring. That new edition will carry the Mom's Choice Award seal on the cover. Currently, the book is sold in Barnes and Noble and in Borders book stores and in several small independent book shops. It is also being distributed by a company called Sollett that specializes in the education market.
She also sells signed copies through the book Web site, www.whendonkeysflybook.com.
Hodge and Markham are also working on a follow up to 'Donkeys' called "When I get a Dog." Markhan is working on the illustrations now. It should be ready for a fall press run, Hodge said.
"This award has opened a lot of possibilities for us," Hodge said. "The recognition gets you into a lot of catalogues you otherwise wouldn't be in."