Children's Book by UC Davis UCEDD Author Patricia Schetter Wins National Award

"Percy Learns to Fly" awarded a 2013 Gelett Burgess Children's Book Award

November 28, 2013

Percy Learns to Fly, a children's book by Patricia Schetter, project coordinator at the Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities at the UC Davis MIND Institute, has received a gold medal for outstanding contributions to children's literature in the 2013 Gelett Burgess Children's Book Award competition. The book was honored in the "motivation and inspiration" award category.

Schetter said she wrote the book to share a story about discovering children's differences and recognizing that being different isn't necessarily a bad thing.  "Differences can be viewed as a gift rather than a challenge," Schetter said. "We often focus on people's deficits - what they aren't able to do or aren't good at - rather than figuring out what they can contribute, focusing on their strengths and developing their talents."

The eponymous Percy is a little penguin who grows up in a family of seagulls on Gull Island. Percy and his parents are distressed to find that he has limited success in school because, despite trying his hardest, he is not learning to fly like the other birds.

"For some unexplained reason, Percy is hatched into a family of gulls," Schetter said. "No one ever knows how or why. Of course he goes to school with the other children, but although he has wings and a beak and is clearly a bird, he can't get the hang of flying no matter how hard he tries or how much he practices.

Patricia Schetter

 Patricia Schetter, author
and UC Davis UCEDD faculty
Kandis Lighthall (educational contributor), Mary A Livingston (illustrator), and Patricia Schetter (author) display their new book awards. Percy Learns to Fly was awarded Gold in the Motivation and Inspiration category of the Gelett Burgess Children's Book Awards.
"He starts to feel very frustrated until, one day, he is accidentally launched into the water and discovers that he really can fly - given the right environment," she said.

Percy Learns to Fly is illustrated by Mary A. Livingston, with educational content and resources contributed by Kandis Lighthall. It is published by ABTA Publications in Redding, Calif. Hardcover and paperback versions are available online and an eBook is planned.

Schetter, Livingston and Lighthall all will be honored at an awards ceremony in Redding, CA, on November 23. The Gelett Burgess Awards and Children's Book Honors Program are conferred by the Gelett Burgess Center for Creative Expression in Portland, OR, named for artist, poet and humorist Gelett Burgess, author of the poem The Purple Cow and The Goops series of children's books.