Book by Local Authors Wins Prestigious Literary Award

L to R, Brenda Olive, Diane Vaszily, and Abby Hemingway, members of The Desert Awareness Committee.

Popular Children’s book about the Sonoran Desert Takes Third Prize in Statewide Contest

PHOENIX – “Chloe and the Desert Heroes: A Tale of Adventure in the Sonoran Desert” was awarded third place out of 54 entries in the 2017 Arizona Literary Award, children’s literature division. “It is a good feeling to be recognized for something that has been a labor of love and has done so much good in promoting conservation and stewardship of the Sonoran Desert,” said Diane Vaszily, spokesperson for the Scottsdale-based Desert Awareness Committee.

The book that has delighted fourth graders in the North Valley for the last two years is the product of a collaboration of local residents affiliated with Desert Awareness, a heritage program of the Foothills Community Foundation. Writing credits include: Abby Hemingway, Kathleen Hindle, Brenda Olive, Phyllis Strupp, and Diane Vaszily. Original color illustrations were created by Judy Speer and Georgia Taylor.

“Chloe and the Desert Heroes” is a coming-of-age tale about 12-year old Chloe who gets lost in the desert when her dog chases a rabbit. She encounters familiar desert animals—the book’s heroes—who help her learn some important lessons about the Sonoran Desert, and coincidentally, how to deal with school bullies.

The book has become an important supplement of the fourth grade Arizona Studies curriculum, enhancing understanding of the desert ecosystem through a hands-on desert classroom program and field experience. The Desert Awareness Committee hopes to expand the popular program statewide and nationally.

For more information:

“Chloe and the Desert Heroes” is available as a single copy on
For classroom book sets including hands-on investigation stations go to: