2009 WLT Teddy Award Finalists: Kathi Appelt, Dotti Enderle, Xavier Garza & Jennifer Ziegler

Congratulations to the 2009 finalists for the Writers’ League of Texas Teddy Book Award: The Underneath (Atheneum) by Kathi Appelt of College Station, Texas; Man in the Moon (Delacorte) by Dotti Enderle of Richmond, Texas; Charro Claus and the Tejas Kid (Cinco Puntos) by Xavier Garza of San Antonio, Texas; and How Not to Be Popular (Delacorte) by Jennifer Ziegler of Austin, Texas.

From the promotional copy of The Underneath:

There is nothing lonelier than a cat who has been loved, at least for a while, and then abandoned on the side of the road.

A calico cat, about to have kittens, hears the lonely howl of a chained-up hound deep in the backwaters of the bayou. She dares to find him in the forest, and the hound dares to befriend this cat, this feline, this creature he is supposed to hate. They are an unlikely pair, about to become an unlikely family. Ranger urges the cat to hide underneath the porch, to raise her kittens there because Gar-Face, the man living inside the house, will surely use them as alligator bait should he find them. But they are safe in the Underneath…as long as they stay in the Underneath.

Kittens, however, are notoriously curious creatures. And one kitten’s one moment of curiosity sets off a chain of events that is astonishing, remarkable, and enormous in its meaning. For everyone who loves Sounder, Shiloh, and The Yearling, for everyone who loves the haunting beauty of writers such as Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Flannery O’Connor, and Carson McCullers, Kathi Appelt spins a harrowing yet keenly sweet tale about the power of love — and its opposite, hate — the fragility of happiness and the importance of making good on your promises.

See the book trailer for The Underneath with music by Cooper Appelt:

In the video below from Simon & Schuster, Kathi talks about her motto:

From the promotional copy for Man in the Moon:

Janine is prepared for a sticky, boring summer on her family’s land in the middle of nowhere. Far from town and with only her ailing brother Ricky for company, Janine spends half her time stuck inside with him, wishing that their mother would let them out to play.

But when Mr. Lunas–a mysterious man who saved Janine’s father’s life in the war–arrives through the cornfields, strange things begin happening. Mr. Lunas eats them out of house and home, then suddenly stops eating at all. And then Ricky’s health takes a turn for the worse, and it looks like Janine’s world is about to spin out of control.

Mr. Lunas comes to her rescue, encouraging her to break Ricky free–and then giving them both an enormous gift.

See a book trailer for Man in the Moon.

From the promotional copy of Charro Claus and the Tejas Kid:

Let’s welcome Santa’s newest helper: his cousin Pancho, a farmer living down in South Texas who is so smart he speaks Spanish and English. Back in the day, Pancho was a mariachi singer with a whole lot of style and a fancy sombrero. But as the years passed, Pancho got, well, a little older and a little wider all around. Then one night his primo Santa Claus showed up. Santa needed some help! Pancho volunteered. And then, poof, Santa transformed Pancho into the resplendent Charro Claus with his incredibly Flying Burritos. And Charro Claus, it turns out, even had his own surprise elf—his nephew Vincente!

All Christmas Eve, Vincente and Pancho deliver toys to the boys and girls on the border. Neither rain, cloudy skies, wire fences nor concrete walls keep them from covering every inch of their newly assigned territory. And they don’t forget a single town or city. How could they? The border is their home.

From the promotional copy of How Not to be Popular:

Maggie Dempsey is tired of moving all over the country. Her parents are blowin’-in-the-wind hippies who uproot her every few months to go to a new city. When Maggie was younger, she thought their life was fun and adventurous. Now that she’s a teenager, she hates it.

Each time she moved, she left behind good friends, a great school, and a real feeling of belonging. But this last time she moved it was even worse: she left behind a boyfriend, too.

Now that they’re moving to Austin, Texas, Maggie knows better. She’s not going to make friends. She’s not going to fit in. And she’s definitely not going to fall for the alpha hottie who won’t leave her alone—no matter how gorgeous he is.

Instead, she will dress like a mental patient, in muumuus and flowered swim caps. She will say and do the wrong things at the wrong times. She will have a bad hair day every day. Anything to prevent her from liking this new place—and prevent the new people from liking her. That way it won’t hurt at all when she has to leave.

Only…things don’t go exactly as planned. A misfit won’t take the hint and becomes Maggie’s friend anyway. And as wrecked as she is over the boyfriend she left behind, Maggie feels…something…for the last person she would have imagined. Who knew not being popular could be so hard?

The winners will be announced at the Texas Book Festival at 3 p.m. Oct. 31, at the State Capitol in Austin. “This project is funded and supported in part by the City of Austin through the Cultural Arts Division and by a grant from the Texas Commission on the Arts and an award from the National Endowment for the Arts, which believes that a great nation deserves great art.” See the finalists in all the Writers’ League award categories.