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Sarah Marie Jette Wins Lupine Honor Award

05/01/2019

Lupines may not be blooming yet, but it is the season for the annual Lupine Awards, handed out by the Maine Library Association every spring to honor authors of picture books and juvenile literature. Author Sarah Marie Jette, who was born and raised in Maine and now lives in Belmont, Mass., received a Lupine Honor Award for her debut middle-grade novel, What the Wind Can Tell You, on Thursday, April 25, at the state’s annual conference of children’s librarians held in Augusta.

“My main characters are Mexican-American and it was really important for me to have that in there,” Jette said in her acceptance speech. “There’s a lot of talk about windows and mirrors, how kids need to see themselves reflected in the books they read because stories matter and if you don’t see yourself on the page, you’ll think that you don’t matter. And windows are so important so you can see the lives of somebody else on the pages that you read. That was a part of my thinking, an intention to tell a story that I didn’t have when I was little.”

The book has already been named to the 2018 Windows and Mirrors List, an annual list of diverse titles that demonstrate strong representation of marginalized identities as well as great literary merit, curated by the New England Children's Booksellers Advisory Committee, and has also earned a Moonbeam Children’s Book Award.  

At the center of Jette’s remarkable debut is seventh-grader Isabelle Perez. Isabelle is fascinated by wind, and this year, she's determined to win the middle school science fair with her wind machine. She's just as determined to have her brother, Julian, who has a severe form of epilepsy and uses a wheelchair, serve as her assistant. But after Julian has a grand seizure, everything changes. Isabelle is suddenly granted entry into Las Brisas, a magical world where Julian's physical limitations disappear. The more Isabelle explores Las Brisas, the more possibilities she sees―for Julian, and for herself―and the more she finds herself at odds with her parents. Debut author Jette tells a powerful story of a family struggling to love without fear.

Sarah Marie Aliberti Jette has what she calls the best job in the world: teaching fourth-graders. She is currently a teacher at Thompson Elementary School in Arlington, Mass. When she's not writing, she's crafting with her three children, sewing her own clothes, and snuggling with her cats. Jette grew up in Lewiston, Maine, in a house filled with books. A graduate of Mount Holyoke College, she served in the Peace Corps in Mongolia, and also studied rehabilitation counseling, before becoming a teacher.