While The Year My Dad Went Bald was shut out of the 21st Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards, the judges still had plenty of great things to say about the book in their commentary. After reading this, I think I need to find out who actually won, because those books must be awesome. Thanks to Writer’s Digest for recognizing excellence in the growing field of self-publishing.
JUDGE’S COMMENTARY FOR THE YEAR MY DAD WENT BALD
The illustrations are cute and quirky (even Dad barfing!), nicely complementing the text, adding humor to a serious subject.
The title will intrigue kid-readers; its seriousness makes it valuable for kids whose parents have cancer. The boy protagonist/dad cancer victim widens the audience since studies claim boys won’t read books about girls, but girls will read about either sex.
The story is funny (beginning with the subtitle “coping with a cold head” through the reactions of the protagonist/dad (particularly nice: who made Dad’s hair go gray; the champagne scene); humor is vital in such a book. The boy’s voice is natural and perfectly kid-like, drawing readers in and making his plight understandable. The details about the diagnosis are presented in easy-to-understand terms; the protagonist’s confusion and worries are things kids in similar situations face. Particularly nice: the added responsibilities for him and Mom.
The hockey tie-in is unique. The explanations of lymphoma and chemotherapy are good; while sidebars, they are presented in a way that keeps the book sounding story-like, not a lecture; wonderfully done. The list of wildly successful people who’ve had lymphoma is perfect, as is the list of resources. Wonderful is the bit about “the new normal.” A fantastic book for kids knowing someone with cancer, yet lively enough to appeal as an “ordinary” story, too
Books are evaluated on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 meaning “needs improvement” and 5 meaning “outstanding”.
Structure and Organization: 5
Production Quality and Cover Design: 5
Plot (if applicable): 5
Character Development (if applicable): 5