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Literature Lover Children’s book award named after Monmouth resident

MONMOUTH — Isaac Hoffman, 2, loved the first book read by Carrie Kasperick at the Monmouth Public Library. It was “Three Hens and a Peacock.”

Every time he saw a glimpse of blue on the page, he yelled out, “Peacock!”

Jade Morris, Lilly Sims, Isaac Hoffman and Will Hoffman sit with Patricia Gallagher. Each child got to take home his or her favorite book after reading with Gallagher.

The book was one of five nominated for the Patricia Gallagher Picture Book Award, a children’s choice award.

After learning the fate of the relationship between the hens and peacock, Monmouth resident Gallagher, herself, took a turn reading a book, “Back of the Bus” — the first time she has read in public in about five years.

Gallagher immediately captured the attention of everyone in the room, pulling them into the story.

“This is an interesting story because there is a character in this book that was a real live person, Rosa Parks,” she explained. “The rest of the characters are fictional. Aaron Reynolds (the author) made them up. Her story is absolutely true; but the little boy’s story is made up.”

The words used in the book sound differently from those people in Monmouth use, Gallagher, 84, said.

“He tells the story in a very special English that is partly black dialect, the language of his people in Montgomery, Ala.,” she said.

And then she began reading the tale of a young boy sitting in the very back of the bus, playing with his marble, on his way home with his mother at the end of the day. Also sitting on that bus is Rosa Parks, who is arrested for not moving for a white person to sit.

The feeling in the library room changed. Children and adults alike were enchanted — almost like they were on that bus with the boy, the marble and Parks.

It was as if Gallagher knew the book by heart, bringing the story to life of how Parks helped changed the nation.

It is no wonder, then, that the picture book award was named after Gallagher.

She is a retired teacher from Western Oregon University, having taught children’s literature to future teachers for more than 20 years.

“She has a reputation for being one of the best resources around,” said Fran Kosko, retired Monmouth librarian. “She has such a love and interest, and loves sharing that.”

It’s that reputation that made members of the Oregon Reading Association board decide to name the new children’s choice award after her in 1997, Karen Antikajian, board member of the ORA, said.

“She was very well-respected and liked,” Antikajian said. “She is an extremely gracious person with a great sense of humor and, of course, a wealth of knowledge about children’s literature.”

Gallagher tells a different story about how the award came to be named after her.

“Well, the joke is, and it’s one I started and perpetuate, is that most of the board was made up of my former students,” she said.

Gallagher’s love of reading has transferred from her students to theirs.

Lynne Rainwater of Albany is one of those former students. She taught at Monmouth Elementary School for about 20 years. When she met Gallagher, she said she was “blown away.”

“I thought I was a lover of books and literature,” Rainwater recalled. “It wasn’t until I met her that I truly found I loved it and wanted to share it.”

Gallagher includes everybody in her love for books, Rainwater said.

“There was a time during the read-aloud and sharing of books that was going really good … I could almost feel Pat emanating from me,” she said. “I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, do I even have her voice right now?’”

Learn More

• The Patricia Gallagher Picture Book Award is open to all grade-school children. The five nominated books may be voted on once children have either read each of them, or they have been read to the child. Voting must be done by May 1, and may be completed in a classroom, school library or public library.

The books are: “Back of the Bus,” by Aaron Reynolds, illustrated by Floyd Cooper; “In the Wild,” by David Elliott, illustrated by Holly Meade; “Joha Makes a Wish,” by Eric Kimmel, illustrated by Omar Rayyan; “Tarra and Bella,” by Carol Buckley, illustrated with photos; “Three Hens and a Peacock,” by Lester L. Laminack, illustrated by Henry Cole.

For more information about the award or books: oregonread.org.