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Friday, November 12, 2010

U.P. Native’s book wins prize in Arizona

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Winners of the first annual Purple Dragonfly Book Awards contest, which recognizes excellence in children's literature, were announced recently at the Arizona Authors Association Banquet in Glendale, Arizona. Deborah K. Frontiera’s entry, Living on Sisu: The 1913 Union Copper Strike Tragedy, received First Place in the historical fiction category.

Book cover courtesy Deborah K. Frontiera. Reprinted with permission.

"Winning any place in the Purple Dragonfly Contest is a huge honor because in order to maintain the integrity of the Dragonfly Book Awards, a minimum score of 55 out of 80 must be earned for a place to be awarded to the entrant -- even if it is the sole entry in a category," stated Linda Radke, president of Five Star Publications, the sponsor of the Purple Dragonfly Book Awards. "Competition is steep, too, because there is no publication date limit as long as the book is still in print."

Frontiera’s book, Living on Sisu: The 1913 Union Copper Strike Tragedy, describes the events of the strike by Western Federation of Miners members against the copper mining companies of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula from a young person’s point of view. The book is designed specifically for students in grades three through eight, but older students and adults have found it a fascinating read as well.

"I sometimes refer to the book as 'Michigan’s Alamo,' because the events described are just as historically significant to the state of Michigan and the nation as a whole as the battle of the Alamo was to Texas and then the nation, but very few people are aware of it," Frontiera said. "It is my hope that the book will make people more aware of the importance of this segment of United States history. Winning this prize with its accompanying publicity will go a long way toward reaching my goal. I spent five years researching and writing the story. Accepting the prize validates all that effort and is a huge honor for me. Schools and teachers who would like to use the book as part of Language Arts or Social Studies curriculum will find free classroom materials to go with the book in the 'articles' section of my Web site."

Only recently, Frontiera learned from a cousin that her great aunt and uncle, Ransom and Gail Pearce, who died many years ago, were married in 1913, and on Christmas Eve, the day of the Italian Hall Tragedy (when seventy-four people -- mostly children -- were trampled to death in a panic that resulted from a false cry of "Fire!") Gail Pearce was in Calumet delivering charity baskets.

"I remember going to Aunt Gail’s house when I was a child. Connections like that make the story even more special to me," Deborah stated.

Deborah grew up in Lake Linden, Michigan, the daughter of Clarke Olson and the late Celia Pearce Olson. She now resides in the Spring Branch area of Houston, Texas, where she continues her writing career and works with Houston’s Writers In The Schools program. She and her husband, Jasper Frontiera (a Saginaw native), have four adult daughters and two grandchildren (and a soon-to-be-born third). She spends the summer months each year at a cottage on Rice Lake, a few miles from where she grew up.

Visit Deborah’s web site at to learn more about the author and her work.

The Purple and Royal Dragonfly Book Awards are part of the family of Five Star Dragonfly Book contests, which include the Chocolate Dragonfly Book Awards, honoring food-related publications; the Green Dragonfly Book Awards, saluting books that create awareness of the environment and eco-friendly living; and Dragonfly eBook Awards, which celebrate eBooks. For more on Five Star Dragonfly contests, access Five Star Publications can be reached at or by calling 480-940-8182.

Editor's Note: See our July 30, 2009, article about Deborah Frontiera, with a review of her award-winning book: "Local author makes Copper Country history come alive for kids, adults."

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