This honor salutes the creators of books, feature films and TV/cable programs that remind audiences of their power as individuals to make a difference.
This year, the award is being given to only five books out of 317 titles that were submitted and reviewed within the Books for Young People category.
"I had no clue that the book was being considered until I got the news," says Larson. "It came as a complete surprise to Mary and me."
She notes, "The movie, "Slumdog Millionaire" won a Christopher when it came out – it’s hard to imagine our book could also win such an honor."
The Kenmore woman feels blessed to have been able to tell the amazing story of the harrowing journey of an Iraqi dog of war that travels thousands of miles to be reunited with his beloved human Marine pal, Major Brian Dennis.
She says, "Think about it. Can you imagine a story of love and hope coming out of a war setting? Yet, here it is. We found it and Brian allowed us to tell it." She adds, "On a more personal level, this is a huge honor for Mary and me as authors because Brian and Nubs have been the public face of this book. They’ve been the ones on the "Today Show," in People Magazine, etc. This award affirms that the telling of this inspirational story — that is, our words — is as important as the story itself."
The book has exceeded the authors’ expectations and has taken on a life of its own.
It spent three months on the New York Times bestseller list and has sold over 200,000 copies. Larson and Nethery get e-mails daily from people who have been moved by or have connected with the story in some manner.
Folks from all over the country have expressed their sentiments about the story.
"Some of the notes have left us in tears," comments Larson, "especially those from people with loved ones in the military. One woman wrote us that her officer husband had seen too many people die. She said, ‘Countless times, he stood on the ramp in the cold, dark hours before the sun came up, waiting for a body to be put on an airplane and flown out of the country.’ She told us that when he got home last spring, he ‘couldn’t watch a movie where anyone died.’ But, together, they read our book and experienced comfort. She said, ‘Nubs is more than a dog; he’s hope and life and healing.’ I think that says it all."
Larson believes that the story touches people in a special way. She adds, "It seems too much to ask of the world to show love and hope in a place of sorrow and hurt. Yet, Nubs’ story indeed does that. It’s only one flickering candle and yet it has warmed countless hearts."
According to Larson, Nubs is thriving with Major Dennis in his new home stateside.
He went from being a wild dog, scrambling for every morsel of food and never experiencing a bit of kindness to being a beloved pet with all the creature comforts.
"Nubs is the sweetest and smartest dog and he’s had to overcome tremendous challenges, including learning that you don’t have to fight to be fed each day," remarks Larson. "He’s become such a charmer now that he completely wowed Sharon Osborne when he and Brian bumped into her in a hotel elevator in New York. Brian describes him as a little rock star!"
Fans of Nubs and his story will be excited to learn that Larson and her collaborators have just signed an option agreement with Warner Brothers for a live action movie based on the book.
"We never thought our book would get this much attention," says Larson. "It’s all very exciting and gratifying."