Linda Oatman High, “The Taste of Elephant Tears”

The PEN/Phyllis Naylor Working Writer Fellowship, established in 2001, provides a writer with a measure of financial sustenance in order to make possible an extended period of time to complete a book-length work-in-progress. The fellowship is supported by an endowment fund established by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor and confers a prize of $5,000 on the honoree.

2014 Judges

Kathi Appelt, Johanna Hurwitz, and Padma Venkatraman

From the Judges’ Citation

There have been several elephants in children’s literature: Kipling’s Elephant’s Child, de Brunhoff’s Babar and Dr. Seuss’s Horton to name just three. Now author Linda Oatman High introduces us to a new pachyderm, the circus elephant, Queenie Grace. In her lovely story, “The Taste of Elephant Tears,” the author tells her tale from the point of view of Queenie Grace who is mourning the 6’5” man who was her best friend and keeper, Bill. The chapters alternate with narration from Lily Pruitt, Bill’s twelve year old granddaughter who comes from West Virginia to attend his funeral in Florida. How Lily and Queenie Grace become friends as each mourns Bill and other of life’s disappointments and losses makes a moving and very original story. It is well written with strongly developed characters. We predict that before long Queenie Grace will be as loved by young readers as the elephants who preceded her in children’s books.

Past winners

Graham McNamee, Lori Aurelia Williams, Franny Billingsley, Deborah Wiles, Amanda Jenkins, Barbara Shoup, Diane Les Becquets, Theresa Nelson, Carol Lynch Williams, Pat Schmatz, Lucy Frank, Sarah Dooley, and Amy Goldman Koss.

Click here for additional information, including submission guidelines, for the award.