Laurie Lawlor reads from “Muddy as a Duck Puddle and Other American Similes” in Springfield earlier this month, where she received an award honoring her body of work. Photo from Ms.Lawlor’s website. Used by permission.

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Evanston author Laurie Lawlor received the 2010 Prairie State Award for Excellence in Writing for Children at a ceremony in Springfield, Ill., on March 18. The Illinois Reading Council presents this award annually to an Illinois children’s/young adult author whose body of work demonstrates excellence, engenders a love of literature and promotes lifelong literacy.

Ms. Lawlor has written more than 35 books of fiction and non-fiction for children and young adults, many of which have won awards. Her newest book, “Muddy as a Duck Puddle and Other American Similes,” is a captivating ABC collection of similes that introduces young children and their parents to comparisons of some unusual and crazy creatures.

Ethan Long’s colorful illustrations are especially inviting for the young reader. The intended age range for the book is from pre-primary to middle school, where it can help teach students how to create and use vibrant language.

“Easy as shinnying up a thorn tree with an armload of eels,” from the Ozarks, and “independent as a hog on ice” are examples of regional expressions that have been passed down from generation to generation in different parts of America.

In doing research for her historical novels over the years, Ms. Lawlor says she collected a huge number of phrases. One day, she says, she was sketching out all the phrases on the back of an envelope, and realized the phrases created a poem. When she saw them all together, the poem inspired Ms. Lawlor to write this amusing book about colorful American figures of speech.