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Thank You Switzerland!

April 20, 2011

On Monday in Lucerne, Switzerland, yours truly received the Prix Chronos book award for Kenny & The Dragon.

The Prix Chronos is an inter-generational book award with the ambition to encourage people to read and to bring together generations: children at the age of 10 to 12 and elderly people together read and review five nominated books. All readers, both young and old, can cast their votes.

One of the nomination criteria is: the relation between these two generations must be a main topic of the book. Or, in this case, the relationship between a dragon and a rabbit.

Since I could not be present, (I have to finish WondLa 2 at some point), I wrote up a thank you letter that I thought you might enjoy:

Hello Dear Readers,

First off, let me apologize for not being here in person to receive this honor. I tried, I truly did. But apparently you can’t bring a full-grown dragon on the plane, even if said dragon purchased their own first class round-trip ticket.

A rabbit? Perhaps. But a dragon? Not gonna happen.

If I were present, I would likely have let this dragon, Grahame, give the acceptance speech. He’s much more eloquent and articulate than I. Oh, he would have begun with kind words about your beautiful country and awe-inspiring landscape, but honestly he would have been present only for the food. You know how dragons are.

He would have then continued on about how this award would not have been possible if it were not for him and his endless wisdom and wit. If there were no dragon in this book, then it would have simply been a story about a bunch of angry bunnies, and who wants to read about that?

Finally I would come up and join Grahame and remind him that his story would not exist were it not for Kenneth Grahame’s beloved tale, “The Reluctant Dragon” originally published in the book, “Dream Days”. I would wax on about how much I adored this old classic and wondered if I could create a new take on it. I would recount how worried I was that children and adults would not like my new version however earnest it may have been. Grahame would chuckle and say, “of course people will like it. It has a dragon in it. And a classy one at that.”

“Yes,” I would agree. “Everyone enjoys a story with dragons, no matter what age they are.”

I know this because there were certain books that I loved as a child that my mom enjoyed reading as well. As a parent I now realize a good book can bridge a generational gap with the flip of a page.

When I was young, sharing a book with my mom and then discussing it afterward was one of my favorite things to do. These conversations often led to what else was going on our lives and it still continues to this day.

In our age of communication chatter, its comforting to know that a simple book can open up real dialogue between the young and the old. I continually strive to craft stories for children of all ages and this award acknowledges my mission and inspires me to continue on my creative journey.

Thank you readers of Switzerland and Prix Chronos for this fantastic award. I share this honor with my translator, Anne Brauner. Thank you to my German publisher, Random House, and my US publisher, Simon & Schuster, for making my stories available the world over. I promise I’ll visit Lucerne soon and I’ll be sure to bring my dragon.

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Never Abandon Imagination Tony DiTerlizzi: Never abandon imagination.

Imagination is a world of possibility that exists within each of us. It is what makes us uniquely human. It is our creative fingerprint that touches and influences the world around us. Imagination is essential to art and science; to innovation and prosperity. It gives us hope, calls us to action and leads to change.

Whether it’s fairies, dragons, robots or aliens, all of my children’s book characters are siblings born of my imagination – an imagination strengthened through years of encouragement from family, teachers and friends. While so many others abandoned it during their transition from childhood to adulthood, I fiercely held onto mine, hoping for a day when I could share it to inspire the next generation of dreamers. Innovators. World changers.

Imagination empowers us to envision and create a reality of what could be. We must hold it dear, foster it and never abandon it.