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A novel about the hurdles and fears faced by...

WASHINGTON -- A novel about the hurdles and fears faced by a fifth-grader and an illustrated book on the English Channel flight of a dashing French aviation pioneer won top awards for children's literature Tuesday.

The American Library Association chose 'Dear Mr. Henshaw' by Beverly Cleary for its 1984 John Newbery Medal for children's fiction and 'The Glorious Flight,' illustrated by Alice and Martin Provenson, as winner of the Caldecott Medal for most distinguished picture book for children.

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The library association, at its midwinter meeting, described 'Dear Mr. Henshaw', written for children aged 8 to 12, as 'warm, subtle (and) occasionally funny.

''Dear Mr. Henshaw' celebrates an ordinary child's life with extraordinary perception,' said the awards committee.

The fictional letters and journal entries of fifth-grader Leigh Botts, directed at dog-book author Mr. Henshaw, describe the child's dealings with big kids who steal the best parts of his lunch, his lost dog and his parents' divorce.

Ms. Cleary, a former librarian who lives in Carmel, California, also wrote the Henry Huggins and 'Ramona' series, which won honorable mention in previous Newbery awards.

The Provensons, a husband and wife team for 37 years and who now live on a farm north of New York City, illustrated the story of the pioneering 1909 cross-channel flight of Louis Bleriot.

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In The Glorious Flight, 'the illustrators convey ... vividly the excitement and triumph of his historic flight,' said the awards committee.

The Provensons' other notable works include illustrations for 'Birds, Beasts and the Third Thing,' poems by D.H. Lawrence; and 'A Peaceable Kingdom,' a Shaker alphabet book.

'Dear Mr. Henshaw' was published by William Morrow and Co. and 'The Glorious Flight' was published by Viking Press.

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