Laurel resident wins a national book award

Laurel resident Patrick Young won a national award for
Laurel resident Patrick Young won a national award for "Old Abe, Eagle Hero: The Civil War's Most Famous Mascot." (Greg Dohler/the Gazette)
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By Chidinma Okparanta
The Gazette
Thursday, December 2, 2010

When Laurel resident Patrick Young was a child listening to stories about Old Abe, an eagle that supposedly brought good luck to Union soldiers fighting in the Midwest during the Civil War, he never imagined he'd one day write a book about it, let alone win an award for his work.

But when the National Parenting Publications Awards judges announced their 2010 winners Nov. 1, Young's nonfiction children's book, "Old Abe, Eagle Hero: The Civil War's Most Famous Mascot," was among them.

The National Parenting Publications Awards, which have existed for 20 years, honor children's products in categories such as toys, games, books, magazines and music based on educational value, social value and age appropriateness, among other criteria.

"I loved the book," wrote judge Helen James in an e-mail. "There was a charm to it that resonated with the judges and we're certain children and the adults in their lives will love this book as much as we did."

The awards are administered through Dominion Parenting Media, an organization partnered with more than 40 regional parenting magazines that review a wide array of children's products annually. Judging is funded through entry fees paid by those who submit their products.

Young's book was one of nine to win in the category of books for ages six and up.

Young, a retired journalist, said he always has had a deep interest in American history and the Civil War. With 2011 marking 150 years since the war began, he thought that now was a good time to tell the story of Old Abe, he said.

The eagle, which was named after President Abraham Lincoln, was the mascot of Company C of the Eighth Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry Regiment, which Young's great-grandfather, Victor Wolf, led during the Civil War, according to the Eau Claire Public Library's genealogical listings.

"Certainly Old Abe is a culturally famous Civil War symbol here in the Midwest and the story of Old Abe is one that's interesting and engaging, if told well," said Michael Stevens, a historian at the Wisconsin Historical Society.

Young's book was published on Sept. 1 by Kane/Miller, a small California-based international children's book publisher.

"Our tagline is 25 years of award-winning children's books from around the world, and we just figured it was time for America to be part of that," said Kira Lynn, publishing director at Kane/Miller, adding that Young's book was chosen because of its quintessentially American story and accessible writing style.

"He has the ability to paint the most colorful picture with the fewest words, and I think part of that comes from being a reporter," Lynn said.

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