We are pleased to announce that NewSouth author and multiple Georgia Author of the Year Award winner Ted Dunagan has won the 2013 Augusta Literary Festival Yerby Award for Fiction for his young adult novel, Trouble on the Tombigbee. The Yerby Award is named for pioneering African American novelist Frank Yerby, author of The Foxes of Harrow, The Golden Hawk, and The Saracen Blade. The award was presented on March 2, 2013 to Mr. Dunagan by Gerald Yerby, the nephew of Frank Yerby, in what Mr. Dunagan describes as “one of highlights of his life as a writer,” adding “to have my work associated with Frank Yerby, a writer who left such a great body of timeless and classic work, is an honor.” We extend our hearty congratulations to Ted Dunagan as he adds the first annual Yerby Award to the impressive list of his literary accomplishments.
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One book review rarely says it all, but we thought poet and children’s author Tony Crunk’s observations about Ted Dunagan’s new young adult novel Trouble on the Tombigbee came close. In a recent online edition of First Draft magazine, calling Dunagan’s novel “a ripping good yarn for any reader.”
Crunk also lauds Dunagan’s depiction of the book’s protagonists, young Ted and Poudlum, friends in 1940s Alabama despite that one is white and one is black.
In Dunagan’s book, Crunk writes, “the two boys really do function as equals. They are equally clever, equally thoughtful and sensitive, and, most importantly, equally dependent on each other. They enact a model of inter-racial mutuality that defies the social prejudices of their time and place, and that could well serve as an ideal for the generation soon to emerge from that time and place … This subtlety will not be lost on the novel’s more sophisticated readers.”
Trouble on the Tombigbee is Dunagan’s third young adult novel about Ted and Poudlum, following A Yellow Watermelon and Secret of the Satilfa. Dunagan is a two-time Georgia Author of the Year award winner for his young adult novels; the Georgia Center for the Book included A Yellow Watermelon on their inaugural list of 25 Books Every Young Georgian Should Read. Dunagan also writes features and columns for The Monticello News in Monticello, Georgia.
At the end of Crunk’s review, he noted that “apart from [Tombigbee‘s] political message … the action is swift and exciting [and] the characters are complex and engaging. … The river itself becomes an immutable presence, offering both hazard and refuge, and thus serving as a near perfect setting for this coming of age tale.” You can read Tony Crunk’s full review at the First Draft website.
A Yellow Watermelon, Secret of the Satilfa, and Trouble on the Tombigbee are all available in print and ebook formats direct from NewSouth Books or from your favorite bookstore.
Ted M. Dunagan was honored with his second Georgia Author of the Year Award for Young Adult Fiction for his novel Secret of the Satilfa, published by NewSouth Books, in an award ceremony held June 11 at the KSU Center in Kennesaw, Georgia.
Mr. Dunagan won the 2009 GAYA for his debut novel, A Yellow Watermelon; the book was also named to the inaugural 25 Books All Young Georgians Should Read list compiled by the Georgia Center for the Book.
The Georgia Author of the Year Award is the oldest literary competition in the southeast. Submissions are evaluated for their narrative quality, creativity, enduring message, and ability to evoke emotion.
Katherine Mason, Assistant Professor of English Education at Wichita State University and lead judge of the Young Adult category, commented, “Dunagan’s engaging writing style and language choices allow him to depict seemingly small events in rich detail (e.g., the thrill and danger of the Spinning Jenny; the smells, tastes, and textures of home cooked food; the boys’ apparent ease of setting up camp and catching, cleaning, and frying fish on an open fire). Young adults and adults alike will enjoy tagging along on another of Ted and Poudlum’s adventures in Secret of the Satilfa.”
Ted Dunagan’s books, set squarely in Southern literary tradition, chronicle the adventures of young Ted and Poudlum, friends despite the racial divide in the rural South in the late 1940s. In Secret of the Satilfa, Ted and Poudlum have their post-Thanksgiving fishing trip to the Cypress Hole on the Satilfa Creek interrupted by unwelcome visitors — fugitive bank robbers. They manage to escape and return to the creek to search — along with seemingly half the locals — for money rumored to have been hidden there by the criminals. Their escapades help them grow in character and understanding about their world and themselves.
A Montgomery Advertiser review recently lauded Ted’s books as “magnificent literary works that are realistic and relatable.”
NewSouth will publish the third Ted and Poudlum adventure, Trouble on the Tombigbee, in August 2011.
Lauren Bradford, a 10-year-old student at Gulf Shores Elementary School, has won a $10,000 savings bond in the 10th annual HOAR Construction/Go Daddy.com Bowl Reading and Writing Program, thanks in part to an essay on A Yellow Watermelon by Ted Dunagan, published by NewSouth Books.
The Mobile Press-Register reports that Miss Bradford submitted a book report in the initial phase of the competition on A Yellow Watermelon after the author visited her school. She won an autographed copy by asking the so-called “Secret Question.” A seasoned presenter to school children, Mr. Dunagan always includes as part of his presentation an announcement to the students that whoever asks a question he has previously sealed in an envelope will win a free autographed copy of his first book.
Says Dunagan, “the secret question generates a lot of curiosity and a good bit of excitement among kids.” Winning the book in this way convinced Lisa Bradford that A Yellow Watermelon was a “lucky” book for her.
For the final competition resulting in the $10,000 prize, all the students read The Pig Man by Paul Zindel. In order to reach the final stage of the competition, Miss Bradford had to compete against some 10,000 students from the state of Alabama, so her essay on A Yellow Watermelon proved lucky indeed in moving her ahead to the finalist stage.
Ted Dunagan’s next book, Trouble on the Tombigbee, will be published by NewSouth Books mid-summer.
Young adult author Ted Dunagan recently concluded an exhilarating two weeks of presentations at schools and libraries in south Alabama, speaking to over 1,000 youngsters about his award-winning book, A Yellow Watermelon, and its newly published sequel, Secret of the Satilfa. An appearance at the Georgia Literary Festival in Statesboro concluded his trip.
Of Ted’s visit to schools and libraries in Orange Beach and Gulf Shores, Patsy Rose, children’s librarian at the Orange Beach Public Library, enthused, “Everyone had nothing but praise for his presentations.” Lynn Lilly of the Georgia Literary Festival complimented Ted on having written “such amazing-and important-books for kids” that help “them understand a difficult subject in a very human way. . . . and to see how to live out their values.”
Ted’s visits included his first presentation to a homeschooling group of moms and kids, in a meeting at the Orange Beach Library. Rachel Bobo made photos at the event, which she called an “informing, inspiring and enjoyable experience of getting to meet a real live author.”
Ted thoroughly enjoyed visiting the kids, teachers, moms and librarians of Alabama’s gulf coast, and was delighted to observe that many things were back to normal in the region: “Folks were eating oysters, catching fish, and listening to Jimmy Buffet.”
NewSouth Books is pleased to announce that Ted Dunagan’s novel A Yellow Watermelon has been named one of the 25 Books Every Young Georgian Should Read.
The Georgia Center for the Book compiled this inaugural list of titles for young readers; they have produced a list of 25 Books Every Georgian Should Read since 2002.
The names of the young adult titles were revealed at a private party on August 26 at the Parkers on Ponce restaurant in Decatur, Georgia. A public announcement to be followed by a book signing will take place Saturday, August 28 in Decatur’s Historic Square from 10:00 am to noon.
“The goal of the Georgia Center For The Book is most laudable,” said Dunagan, “and I’m honored that my work is part of their initial offering.”
William Starr, director of the Georgia Center for the Books, noted that “this new list was created to help recognize some of Georgia’s outstanding authors of books for young readers, and to serve as a way of connecting those writers with readers all over the state, and beyond. Ted Dunagan’s book A Yellow Watermelon is an obvious choice for the list because it carries a strong, compelling moral message and conveys it with a wonderful storyteller’s artistry.”
In the best Southern literary tradition, A Yellow Watermelon explores poverty and racial segregation through the eyes of an innocent boy. In rural south Alabama in 1948, whites picked on one side of the cotton field and blacks on the other. Where the fields meet, twelve-year-old Ted meets Poudlum, a black boy his own age, who teaches him how to endure the hard work while they bond and go on to integrate the field. The white boy and the black boy encounter danger and intrigue while executing a plan to save Poudlum’s family from a corrupt businessman, and discover a great, yet simple, secret of enlightenment.
A Yellow Watermelon has been compared to the works of Mark Twain and Harper Lee. Kirkus Reviews called it “a memorable, generous-hearted tale.” Ted Dunagan was named Georgia Author of the Year in the young adult category for Yellow Watermelon. NewSouth’s Junebug Books imprint recently published the sequel, Secret of the Satilfa.
Ted Dunagan has traveled across the South speaking to book lovers of all ages about the writing process and the themes of his novels. He says his visits to Southern schools and libraries will be even more meaningful now that he knows he’s speaking about a book which has been so strongly recommended for young readers.
Ted Dunagan is no stranger to fan mail. But the students of Gatewood School surprised the author of A Yellow Watermelon, winner of the 2009 Georgia Author of the Year in the young adult category, with not five or ten but a whopping 70 letters of thanks for the presentation he recently gave at the school.
Ted read from his award-winning book and talked about the proces of becoming a published author. He shared stories of his own childhood in the rural South of the 1940s, episodes of which form the basis of his semi-autobiographical novels.
The school’s Gator Tales Newsletter enthused, “In an inspiring and candid discussion, he encouraged the students to overcome their adversities and live up to their potential. Mr. Dunagan’s advice to students who aspire to become writers was to read daily, to read all genres of books, and to set personal goals for themselves.”
Ted savored his time with the “awesome” kids. Clearly the students also enjoyed the visit, as one of the letters reveals:
Dear Mr. D,
Thank you for coming to my school. It was real fun. I was thinking of the secret question but you did not call on me. Also, thank you for giving me your signature. Now you have mine.