FOCAL (Friends of Children and Literature) has been a force for good and a generous supporter of the Children’s Literature Department since 1979. And from the beginning they have honored books that enrich a child’s appreciation and understanding of California, through the FOCAL Award. On Saturday, January 12, 2013 local children’s literature luminaries and fans met at the Border Grill at Figueroa and Fifth to dine on truly fabulous food and celebrate the winner of the 2012 FOCAL Award, One Day and One Amazing Morning on Orange Street, by Joanne Rocklin. The award committee is made up of librarians, teachers, authors, and others who have a passion for children’s literature, and their 2012 selection was particularly meaningful to anyone who grew up (or is in the process of growing up) in Los Angeles. The story revolves around a neighborhood’s one remaining orange tree, and is told from the viewpoints of the streets many inhabitants, past and present, including the tree itself. It’s about family, community, and the importance of connection. It’s funny, poignant, and ultimately inspiring. Every year there is an essay contest for children connected with the award. The winners of the contest are invited to attend the luncheon, and are seated with the author. They receive a signed copy of the winning book and have the opportunity to read their essay to the admiring audience. This year’s essays were also funny, poignant, and ultimately inspiring. So, you may be wondering, what exactly IS the FOCAL Award? Artist Carol Onofrio has been creating one-of-a-kind puppets representing characters from the winning titles since the beginning. She makes one for the author, one for the illustrator if it is a picture book, and one for the Children’s Literature Department. We have the entire collection of FOCAL puppets on display in the department through the end of January, and the puppet for this year’s winning book will be display all year. If you would like more information about FOCAL, please visit their website at http://www.focalonline.org/. For an excellent list of books about California that includes picture books, poetry, non-fiction, and chapter book fiction, you will find the list of FOCAL Award winners on KidsPath at http://kidspath.lapl.org/kidspath/books/focalaward.html.