Maui Arts & Entertainment

‘Wonder’ Selected as 2015 Nene Award Winner

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"Wonder." Image courtesy of the Nene Award Committee.

“Wonder.” Image courtesy of the Nene Award Committee.

By Maui Now Staff

“Wonder” by R. J. Palacio, a No. 1 New York Times bestseller, has been chosen as the winner of the 2015 Nene Award by the children of Hawaiʻi.

The announcement was made on April 9 at the 51st Annual Nene Award Presentation Ceremony at Sacred Hearts Academy Auditorium.

Special guest Darth Vader (Justin Cruz) of the Pacific Outpost of the 501st Legion announced the award, accompanied by Storm Troopers and other Star Wars characters before an audience of more than 400 invited dignitaries, students, teachers and other guests.

The Nene Honor Book Award (runner-up) is “The One and Only Ivan” by Katherine Applegate.


The annual Nene Award is presented to the favorite fiction book based on a vote by the keiki of Hawaiʻi in grades four through six.


A total of 5,497 students from 66 public libraries, and private and public schools statewide voted this year.

“Wonder” is the story of 10-year old Auggie, who was born with extreme facial abnormalities. He was not expected to survive. Auggie is home-schooled until he enters fifth grade at a private middle school in Manhattan,. There, he endures the taunting and fear of his classmates and struggles to be seen as just another student.

Nene Award 15 contest winners. Photo credit Paul H. Mark, HSPLS.

Nene Award 2015 student contest winners and distinguished guests: (top row, left to right) Sherman Tom, Perma-Bound Books Hawaiʻi sales representative; Ray Oda and Heather Aila, Scholastic Book Fairs sales consultants; Kimball Boone, Hawaii Library Association president; Stacey A. Aldrich, state librarian; and Stacie Kanno, HSPLS Public Libraries Branch director, at the 2015 Nene Award Ceremony. Photo credit Paul H. Mark, HSPLS.

Student contest winners of digital works, essays, creative writing, and posters celebrating “The Strange Case of Origami Yoda” (2014 Nene Award winner) by Tom Angleberger, were also honored.


Winners and honorable mentions included:

Persuasive Category, Essay
Fifth Grade Honorable Mention: Cassidy Furutani of Kaneohe Elementary
Fourth Grade Honorable Mention: Michael Quinn of Kaneohe Elementary.

Persuasive Category, Digital Media

  • Sixth Grade Winner: Carolei Edra of Sacred Hearts Academy
  • Fourth Grade Winners: Mana Harada of Maemae Elementary and Graysen Oumi of Kaneohe Elementary.

Interpretive Category, Creative Writing

  • Sixth Grade Winner: Kelly Thieu of Sacred Hearts Academy
  • 6th Grade Honorable Mention: Alexander Law of Maryknoll, 5th Grade Honorable Mentions: Allison O’Connor, Kela Seavey and Camille Dias of Waikiki Elementary,
  • Fourth Grade Honorable Mention: Emma Rudy of Maryknoll.

Interpretive Category, Digital Media

  • Sixth Grade Winner: Emma Kauhane of Sacred Hearts Academy
  • Fourth Grade Winner: Ian Nakashima of Maryknoll
  • Fifth Grade Honorable Mentions: Noah Hata, Jaren Kaneshiro and Dylan Shimomi of Maryknoll.

Persuasive Category, Poster

  • Sixth Grade Honorable Mentions: Annika Lindberg and Rachel Huang of Sacred Hearts Academy
  • Fifth Grade Honorable Mentions: Ayla Hakikawa of Sacred Hearts Academy, Mandy Kim-Fu and Emi Okazaki of Mililani ʻIke Elementary
  • Fourth Grade Honorable Mention: Cody Chun of Mililani ʻIke Elementary

Perma-Bound Books will donate a copy of the winning titles to each participating public library and school.

The annual Nene Award is supported by the Hawaiʻi State Public Library System and state Department of Education.

Sponsors include the Hawaiʻi Association of School Librarians, Hawaiʻi Library Association, Follett Library Resources, Perma-Bound Books, Sacred Hearts Academy and Scholastic Book Fairs.

School Librarians Michelle Colte of Hale Kula Elementary and Denise Sumida of Pearl Harbor Elementary are the 2014-15 Nene award committee co-chairpersons.

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