An episode of ABC’s long-running family comedy The Middle, the Academy Award-nominated films Darkest Hour and Lady Bird, and acclaimed historian David McCullough’s book The American Spirit are among the 21 winning TV/Cable programs, feature films, and books for adults and young people that will be honored at the 69th annual Christopher Awards, to be presented in New York City on May 17, 2018.
The Christopher Awards were created in 1949 to celebrate writers, producers, directors, authors and illustrators whose work “affirms the highest values of the human spirit.”
Tony Rossi, The Christophers’ Director of Communications, said, “In a world where there’s a lot of anger and division, people need stories like those we’re honoring with Christopher Awards this year. From heroism in war to ordinary acts of kindness, these stories can serve as instruments of grace, helping us to see beyond our differences and celebrate our common humanity.”
Winners in the various categories are:
TV & Cable
ABC News 20/20: Wonder Boy follows the Newman family as they deal with their son Nathaniel’s rare cranio-facial condition called Treacher Collins, the brutal surgeries he must endure as a result, and their efforts to help the world see his beautiful heart, mind, and soul. The mini-series The Long Road Home (National Geographic Channel) dramatizes the 2004 ambush of the U.S. Army’s First Cavalry Division as they started peacekeeping duties in Sadr City, Iraq, the anxieties of their families back home, and the sacrifice and heroism of ordinary soldiers. In The Christmas Miracle, an episode of the long-running comedy series The Middle (ABC), Frankie Heck’s adult son Axl refuses to attend church with the family on Christmas Eve, causing her to confront her own lackluster spirituality and recognize the importance of connecting with God.
The Music of Strangers (HBO) celebrates the unique sounds and individuals that make up cellist Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble, a group of musicians from the U.S., Europe, Asia, and Africa, who blend their musical cultures in order to build bridges in a divided world. POV: Swim Team (PBS) highlights Michael and Maria McQuay’s efforts to give their son and other young people with autism the opportunity to achieve goals and gain confidence by channeling their energies into sports in an inclusive and encouraging environment.
With a Nazi invasion of England imminent, newly appointed Prime Minister Winston Churchill must rally his unprepared nation and fellow members of Parliament to fight for liberty and freedom in Darkest Hour (Focus Features). A rebellious and insecure teen, who has a contentious relationship with her mother, strives for independence and experiences moments of grace due to the subtle, unrealized influences of her Catholic education in Lady Bird (A24 Films). A brave donkey, lovable sheep, and wisecracking dove make up the merry band of misfits on a divine mission to bring Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem for Jesus’ birth in the animated Nativity story The Star (AFFIRM Films/Sony Pictures Animation). Based on the Christopher Award-winning bestseller, Wonder (Lionsgate) tells the story of a 10-year-old boy, born with facial deformities, who enters a mainstream school for the first time and teaches his classmates and community about compassion, acceptance, and the power of kindness.
Books for Adults
Acclaimed historian David McCullough explores the ideals, values, and individuals that brought out the best in our country’s citizens – and that should still inspire and guide us today – in his collection of speeches The American Spirit (Simon & Schuster). Holocaust survivor Dr. Edith Eva Eger recalls the healing journey she took to overcome survivor’s guilt and become a psychologist who helps others deal with trauma in her memoir The Choice (Scribner/Simon & Schuster). Radical forgiveness and reconciliation are on display in Andrew Collins’ and Jameel McGee’s Convicted, written with Mark Tabb, (Waterbrook/Penguin Random House), the true story of the unlikely friendship that formed between a crooked white police officer and the innocent African-American man he sent to jail.
In Dorothy Day (Scribner/Simon & Schuster),
author Kate Hennessy presents an intimate yet complex portrait of her
grandmother, the Catholic social activist and possible future saint, who
strove to balance her commitment to serving the poor with that of being
a good mother. I’ll Push You (Tyndale House
Publishers) chronicles the physical struggles and spiritual fruits that
result when Patrick Gray travels the 500-mile Camino de Santiago
pilgrimage through the mountains of northern Spain with his best friend,
Justin Skeesuck, who relies on a wheelchair due to a progressive
neuromuscular disease. In Redeeming Ruth (Hendrickson
Publishers), Meadow Rue Merrill shares her family’s story of adopting an
orphaned Ugandan baby with cerebral palsy, embracing the sacrificial
joy of raising her, and allowing God to transform sorrow into hope when
Books for Young People
A trip to the park prompts a little girl’s discovery of the world’s ordinary joys and miracles, leading her mom to a new perspective on life in Through Your Eyes by Ainsley Earhardt, illustrated by Ji-Hyuk Kim (Preschool and up, Aladdin Books/Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing). Pocket Full of Colors (Kindergarten and up, Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing) by Amy Guglielmo and Jacqueline Tourville, illustrated by Brigette Barrager, introduces readers to trailblazing illustrator, designer, and animator Mary Blair, one of the first women ever hired by Walt Disney Studios. Harriet Tubman’s bravery extends far beyond her work leading slaves to freedom through the Underground Railroad to include being a Union spy, nurse, suffragist, and more, as shown in the poetic tribute Before She Was Harriet (ages 6 and up, Holiday House Publishing), by Lesa Cline-Ransome, illustrated by James E. Ransome.
In Genevieve’s War (Ages 8 and up, Holiday House Publishing) by Patricia Reilly Giff, an American girl’s vacation at her grandmother’s farm in 1939 France takes an ominous turn when the Nazi occupation begins, leaving her in dangerous circumstances that test her character and sense of personal responsibility. Tom Rinaldi’s The Red Bandanna (ages 10 and up, Viking/Penguin Young Readers Group) explores the life of 9/11 hero Welles Crowther, who worked on the 104th floor of the World Trade Center’s South Tower and helped lead 18 people to safety before being killed himself. In racially-charged post-World War I Chicago, the friendship between a white boy and an African-American child sparks outrage in the community and challenges the youngsters to practice courage and loyalty in the face of hatred in author Bibi Belford’s Crossing the Line (Young Adult, Sky Pony Press/Skyhorse Publishing).
The 2018 special Christopher Awards will be announced soon.
The Christophers, a nonprofit founded in 1945 by Maryknoll Father James Keller, is rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition of service to God and humanity. The ancient Chinese proverb—“It’s better to light one candle than to curse the darkness”— guides its publishing, radio, and awards programs. More information about The Christophers is available at www.christophers.org.