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5 Finalists in 5 Days: MFAC Alum Elizabeth Verdick

Elizabeth Verdick Small Walt and Mo the Tow 375

MFAC Alum Elizabth Verdick’s book Small Walt and Mo the Tow by Paula Wiseman Books/Simon & Schuster and illustrated by Marc Rosenthal is a finalists in the Children's Literature category


Elizabeth Verdick has written more than 30 books for toddlers to teens. She also worked for a publisher in Minneapolis helping to develop geography education books.

Author Website


A bitter blizzard. A snowbound town. When a car skids off the road, Small Walt and Gus might not have what it takes to save the day on their own. But who does? Mo the Tow to the rescue! Filled with onomatopoeia and affirming chants, this story of vehicular friendship and teamwork will endear itself to readers of all ages.


The smallest in a fleet of snowplows always gets picked last in a snowstorm, but he and his driver, Gus, show that teamwork and perseverance pay off. Artwork reminiscent of Virginia Burton's classics begins with a double-page spread of eight snowplows—eyes and eyebrows on their windshields—facing out in front of a tall fence. . . . Charming and endearing: "ChuggaMmmm-hmmm!"
-Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

After a blizzard hits, it looks as though Walt, “the smallest snowplow in the fleet,” will be left behind in the parking lot, unable to keep up with bigger plows. Then along comes Gus, a worker who knows that Walt is up for the job. Verdick (Peep Leap) assumes a chummy tone in her concise narration and keeps the storytelling taut. There’s just enough vehicular geekiness for aficionados: Gus goes through a four-point checklist to make sure that Walt is in good working order, and there are sound effects throughout. But what gives the story its verve is Rosenthal’s digitally colored pencil artwork, which has a matter-of-fact open-heartedness and a compelling sense of place that recalls the stories of Virginia Lee Burton. Yes, Walt wins the respect of the big machines, but what feels more important is the relationship between snowplow and driver. When the story concludes with Gus tying his blue scarf around Walt’s rearview mirror, declaring “A blue ribbon for my buddy,” readers will know their bond is the real thing.
-Publishers Weekly

The grit of the Little Engine that Could, the nostalgic illustrations of Katy and the Big Snow, and a touch of modernity from an accomplished author and illustrator, combine to become Small Walt. . . . The timeless messages that little people can do big things, one should never give up, and teamwork works best are pervasive throughout. . . . A warm and fuzzy dose of positive thinking perfect for seasonal storytimes and snow days.
-School Library Journal


The Minnesota Book Awards is a year-long program that fosters our statewide literary arts community and connects readers and writers throughout Minnesota.

The process begins in the fall with book submissions and continues through winter with two rounds of judging. Winners are announced at the annual Minnesota Book Awards Ceremony each spring. Woven throughout the season are various engagement activities and events that promote the authors and connect the world of Minnesota books – writers, artists, illustrators, publishers, editors, and more – to readers throughout the state.

Tickets on sale here

Congratulations, Elizabeth!