"Sky Bounce" Wins Religion Communicators Council's 2004 Wilbur Award

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"Sky Bounce," a fantasy for ages 10 and up written by Deanna Miller, has won the Religion Communicators Council's 2004 Wilbur Award for fiction. RCC is an interfaith organization of professional religion communicators, and the Wilbur Awards are given in various categories to "recognize excellence in the communication of religious issues, values, and themes in the secular media," as stated at http://www.religioncommunicators.org/competitions.html. By giving "Sky Bounce" the award, RCC has acknowledged the book's broad appeal to readers from different secular and religious backgrounds. To view the complete list of 2004 Wilbur award winners, go to http://www.religioncommunicators.org/competitions.html and click "List of 2004 Wilbur Award Winners."

"Sky Bounce," a fantasy for ages 10 and up written by Deanna Miller, has won the Religion Communicators Council's 2004 Wilbur Award for fiction. RCC is an interfaith organization of professional religion communicators, and the Wilbur Awards are given in various categories to "recognize excellence in the communication of religious issues, values, and themes in the secular media," as stated at http://www.religioncommunicators.org/competitions.html.

RCC's Web site further explains, "The competition is judged by media professionals in a jury process, under the supervision of local RCC chapters across the country. Basic criteria include content, creativity, execution, and results, but the ultimate criteria is excellence in the communication of religious values. The awards are named for Marvin C. Wilbur, one of the pioneers in the field of religious public relations."

Considered by some to be a Christian fantasy, "Sky Bounce" does not advocate a particular religion. It is about religious tolerance, as different beings in the story have different religious views, and some bridge their gap through friendship and love while others succumb to prejudice. The main character learns to overcome her fear through the love of others and through faith in God, and this gives her confidence in herself. The book is perhaps more spiritual than religious because it is about the core values behind all religions---faith, love, hope, and helping others instead of judging them---rather than the dogma of a specific religion.

"Sky Bounce" was also field nominated by reviewers for four American Library Association awards for young adult books and nominated by the late editor Jean E. Karl (of Atheneum Books for Young Readers) for the Pushcart Press Editors' Book Award. Miller chose self-publication because the book was not a neat fit for either secular publishers, which tend to avoid religious topics, or religious publishers, which prefer to endorse a specific religion. However, "Sky Bounce" has received many positive reviews from both secular and religious book reviewers.

All four reviewers who discussed the book in Voice for Youth Advocates recommended "Sky Bounce." Kim Carter wrote, "An imaginative, fast-paced tale...With themes of friendship, exploration, rebellion, and idealism, it will resonate with youth who have a passion for the possible." Teen reviewer Shane Bell wrote, "I'm not a fantasy reader, but I still liked it a lot...I would recommend this book to anyone at the junior high or high school reading level who likes fantasy or at least fiction." Teen reviewers Kelsey Sands and Cindi Majoy called it "a quick, fun read" and "a wonderful book about friendship and sticking together through hard times," respectively.

Janean Nusz of http://www.wordmuseum.com wrote, "Miller has written a truly unique book in 'Sky Bounce.' Not only is the storyline imaginative and fun, but it has a spiritual message that is greatly needed by the youth of today...Lessons are woven into the story so artfully that the strong message of faith comes across as subtle and uncomplicated...A masterfully creative tale."

Rev. Marie Jones, BookCrazy Radio's "Books for the Spirit" reviewer, wrote, "This book works great on two levels, with one level of superb fantasy storytelling fusing seamlessly into the fun romantic tension that propels the two characters' behavior...I also really loved the powerful spiritual undertones. This book is about more than just two friends living in a world different than our own. It is about prejudice and fear, and how our misconceptions and misunderstandings of people who are different from us can often lead to violence and destruction.

"What a perfect and timely message to convey to kids, with our own country struggling to find its place in a world filled with those whom we do not always understand. Do we choose fear, and war? Or do we try to look beyond differences to what may be a surprising and enlightening reality we cannot see? These questions are explored in 'Sky Bounce,' but are never hammered over the head. Deanna Miller is a master at subtlety, and her messages are well weaved into the storyline, making this book all the more pleasurable to read...I loved 'Sky Bounce,' and highly recommend it to anyone of any age who likes good fantasy storytelling."

Some reviewers have compared "Sky Bounce" to Madeleine L'Engle's books. For example, Cindy Penn of http://www.wordweaving.com wrote, "While a wholly original work, the themes of 'Sky Bounce' remind this reviewer of 'A Wrinkle in Time.' An exploration of other planes of existence and examination of the true essence of each being lends 'Sky Bounce' remarkable philosophical and spiritual depth even as the story is just plain fun. The value placed on each plane's uniqueness and emphasis on fitting in makes for strong social commentary for the discerning reader. Miller's embracing of individuality and self-sacrifice makes for deep thinking...'Sky Bounce' comes very highly recommended."

Brenda Dupas of http://www.newradiance.com wrote, "This is a well-paced, well-written fantasy with religious/spiritual overtones. It explores the nature of friendship, loyalty, trust, and faith. The messages the author wishes to convey...become a seamless part of the whole. In that sense, it is similar to Madeleine L'Engle's works which offer her young readers much food for thought within a fantasy framework. This is a spiritually uplifting book for young readers with an interesting storyline."

By giving "Sky Bounce" the 2004 Wilbur Award in the fiction book category, RCC has acknowledged the book's broad appeal to readers from different secular and religious backgrounds. To view the complete list of 2004 Wilbur award winners, go to http://www.religioncommunicators.org/competitions.html and click "List of 2004 Wilbur Award Winners."

"Sky Bounce" is currently distributed through Baker & Taylor, Brodart, Book Wholesalers Inc., and http://www.deannamiller.com.

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