Local bookstore wins national award

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Pamela and Jon Voelkel stand with DDG owner Kenny Brechner, who helped arrange school visits for the authors in 2011.
Pamela and Jon Voelkel stand with DDG owner Kenny Brechner, who helped arrange school visits for the authors in 2011.

FARMINGTON – A local bookstore has received national recognition for its efforts to create interest in reading among local youths, with the award to be presented in New York City next month.

Devaney, Doak and Garrett Booksellers in downtown Farmington received word that it had won the Pannell Award late last week, according to owner Kenny Brechner. Established in 1983, the award is co-sponsored by the Women’s National Book Association and the Penguin Young Readers Group and given annually to an independent bookstore which “enhance[s] their communities by bringing exceptional creativity to foster a love of reading in their young patrons.”

Brechner said that more than 20 stores had received nominations for the award. DDG Booksellers is the first Maine business to win the award.

“The award focuses on fostering a love of reading in young people and community outreach,” Brechner said. “These are the aspects of my job that I care about the most.”

While saying it was “gratifying” to be recognized, Brechner said that the award represented a recognition of his store’s work with community partners. As part of the award process, he submitted a portfolio of work to a panel of judges which included previous projects such as child-submitted book reviews, interviews with local students, summer reading programs and bringing authors into schools in nine surrounding districts.

The award includes a presentation in late May at the BookExpo America’s Children’s Book and Author Breakfast. Brechner will receive a $1,000 check and an original piece of art created by a children’s book illustrator.

The Pannell Award judges included Cheryl Willis Hudson, vice president and editorial director of Just Us Books; Andrew Karre, editorial director of Carolrhoda, an imprint of the Lerner Publishing Group; Lisa von Drasek, curator of Children’s Literature Research Collections, University of Minnesota; Emma D. Dryden, children’s editorial and publishing consultant; and Kelli Chipponeri, executive editor of children’s books at Chronicle Books.

“This year my selections were influenced by the bookstores that are the epicenters of their communities,” said Chipponeri in a statement released earlier this week. “Outreach that these booksellers do, with little resources and support, makes them, not only cultural touch points for the people who shop at their stores, but promote reading, art, and education (as well as other ideas that feed the mind and soul) in communities.”

DDG Booksellers received the Pannell Award in the general bookstore category, while 4 Kids Books & Toys in Zionsville, Ind., won the children’s specialty bookstore award.

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