First Jewel Kats Special Needs Award Goes to ‘Once Upon a Time a Sparrow’

Once Upon a Time a Sparrow (Open Wings Press, May 2017) by Mary Avery Kabric has won the first Jewel Kats Special Needs Award, announced the Loving Healing Press, sponsor of the award. The award is juried by Reader Views, who evaluates every book submitted as entries to their annual RV Literary Award as potential candidates for the Jewel Kats Award.

First Jewel Kats Special Needs Award Goes to 'Once Upon a Time a Sparrow' 1

Once Upon a Time a Sparrow tells the story of school psychologist Dr. Mary Meyers who, after the death of her mother, returns to her home town and sets on a journey back into her childhood memories of struggling with dyslexia. The ensuing emotional pain causes her to seek therapy while also posing the challenge of using her experiences to inspire her students and their parents.

The book is written in fictional format, though it’s based on the author’s real-life experiences of growing up as a dyslexic child.

Paige Lovitt, who reviewed the book, said: “Once Upon a Time a Sparrow is written in fictional format, yet it is based on the author’s personal experiences of being a child with dyslexia. Having worked with individuals with learning disabilities for over 25 years, I found this story to be inspirational for students with learning differences, their parents, and the professionals who work with them.”

The author, Mary Avery Kabric writes: “If I had the opportunity to share with Jewel, I would want her to know that I hid my disability (fortunately I could – not everyone can) for many years. I now am completely ‘out’ about it. And, having won first place in the category of general fiction for Reader Views and awarded the Jewel Kats Award, I will be a stronger advocate for other aspiring writers who question their ability given the challenges they face with literacy skills throughout school. I am here to say, if someone such as me, who needed remedial help to finally pass English 101, can go on to write a successful novel, you too can do it-if you’re willing to persist. The award money will go into a fund I am starting (with 80 percent of all sales of the book) to support a non-profit organization providing tutoring to children with dyslexia in low-income schools.”

About the Award

The Jewel Kats Special Needs Award, sponsored by the Loving healing Press (LHP) of Ann Arbor, MI, goes to a children’s author of a picture book or chapter book about a child overcoming a mental or physical disability. A cash prize of $400 will be granted to next year’s winner. The award commemorates the life and work of Canadian author Jewel Kats whose children’s books, many of them published by LHP, brought hope and empowerment to physically and psychologically challenged children and their families. Her work is online at her website.

To read more about the eligibility criteria and process of submitting your book for the Jewel Kats Special Needs Award, visit