“Wonder” by R. J. Palacio, a #1 New York Times bestseller, has been chosen by the children of Hawaii as the winner of the 2015 Nene Award. The announcement was made this morning by special guest Darth Vader (Justin Cruz) of the Pacific Outpost of the 501st Legion accompanied by Storm Troopers and other Star Wars characters before an audience of more than 400 invited dignitaries, students, teachers, and other guests at the 51st Annual Nene Award Presentation Ceremony at Sacred Hearts Academy Auditorium. The Nene Honor Book Award (runner-up) is “The One and Only Ivan” by Katherine Applegate.

The annual Nene Award is presented to the favorite fiction book based on a vote by the children of Hawaii in grades 4 through 6. This year, a total of 5,497 students from 66 public libraries and private and public schools statewide voted.

“Wonder” is the story of 10-year old Auggie, who was born with extreme facial abnormalities and was not expected to survive. Auggie is home-schooled until he enters fifth grade at a private middle school in Manhattan, where he endures the taunting and fear of his classmates and struggles to be seen as just another student.

Student contest winners of digital works, essays, creative writing, and posters celebrating “The Strange Case of Origami Yoda” (2014 Nene Award winner) by Tom Angleberger, were honored at the ceremony. Angleberger accepted his Nene Award via a live Google Hangout presentation. The winners and honorable mentions of five categories include:

Persuasive Category – Essay: 5th Grade Honorable Mention: Cassidy Furutani of Kaneohe Elementary, 4th Grade Honorable Mention: Michael Quinn of Kaneohe Elementary.

Persuasive Category – Digital Media: 6th Grade Winner: Carolei Edra of Sacred Hearts Academy, 4th Grade Winners: Mana Harada of Maemae Elementary and Graysen Oumi of Kaneohe Elementary.

Interpretive Category – Creative Writing: 6th Grade Winner: Kelly Thieu of Sacred Hearts Academy, 6th Grade Honorable Mention: Alexander Law of Maryknoll, 5th Grade Honorable Mentions: Allison O’Connor, Kela Seavey and Camille Dias of Waikiki Elementary, 4th Grade Honorable Mention: Emma Rudy of Maryknoll.

Interpretive Category – Digital Media: 6th Grade Winner: Emma Kauhane of Sacred Hearts Academy, 4th Grade Winner: Ian Nakashima of Maryknoll, 5th Grade Honorable Mentions: Noah Hata, Jaren Kaneshiro and Dylan Shimomi of Maryknoll.

Persuasive Category – Poster – 6th Grade Honorable Mentions: Annika Lindberg and Rachel Huang of Sacred Hearts Academy, 5th Grade Honorable Mentions: Ayla Hakikawa of Sacred Hearts Academy, Mandy Kim-Fu and Emi Okazaki of Mililani ‘Ike Elementary, 4th Grade Honorable Mention: Cody Chun of Mililani ‘Ike Elementary.

Perma-Bound Books will donate a copy of the 2015 award-winning titles to each participating public library and school.

The annual Nene Award is supported by the Hawaii State Public Library System and State Department of Education. Sponsors include the Hawai’i Association of School Librarians, Hawai’i Library Association, Follett Library Resources, Perma-Bound Books, Sacred Hearts Academy, and Scholastic Book Fairs.

School Librarians Michelle Colte of Hale Kula Elementary and Denise Sumida of Pearl Harbor Elementary are the 2014-2015 Nene Award Committee Co-Chairpersons.

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Attached are the book cover of “Wonder,” courtesy of the Nene Award Committee, and a photo of student contest winners and distinguished guests (top row, l – r Sherman Tom, Perma-Bound Books Hawaii Sales Representative; Ray Oda and Heather Aila, Scholastic Book Fairs Sales Consultants; Kimball Boone, Hawaii Library Association President; Stacey A. Aldrich, State Librarian; and Stacie Kanno, HSPLS Public Libraries Branch Director) at today’s 2015 Nene Award Ceremony. Photo is courtesy of HSPLS.