"Trapped in Death Cave," a suspense novel by Bill Wallace (Holiday House, 1984) has been named the winner of the 1989 Utah Children's Book Award in a readers' choice contest sponsored by the Children's Literature Association of Utah.Over 6,000 schoolchildren in Utah, grades 3-6, from 144 schools in 21 school districts and three independent school systems, participated in the contest.

The winning author will be in Salt Lake City to accept the award and will be the featured speaker at the Children's Literature Association annual meeting, at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 6, in the Salt Lake City Public Library, 209 E. Fifth South.

Wallace, an elementary school principal and physical education teacher in Oklahoma - where he was born and raised - wrote his first novel, "A Dog Called Kitty," to satisfy the need for stories for his students.

"One of my students asked me to tell them stories about when I was growing up," he said. "I soon ran out of these, so they decided I should make up my own."

That was the beginning of a writing career that has led Wallace to winning the Texas Blue Bonnet Award, the Oklahoma Sequoia Award and the Nebraska Golden Sower - awards listed by children as their favorites.

Now a full-time writer, Wallace is able to do what he likes best, write the stories of his area of Chickasha, Okla., and talk to students about his work.

Also to be announced as winners at the CLAU annual meeting will be the honor books: "Class Clown" by Joanna Hurwitz (Morrow, 1987), and "Harry's Mad" by Dick King-Smith (Crown, 1987). The award for the best informational book will be given to Ron and Atie Van der Meer for "Your Amazing Senses" (Macmillan, 1987), a game, puzzle and trick book that shows the body's responses to sight, smell, taste and touch.

The Utah Children's Book Award, now in its 10th year, gives children in upper elementary grades a chance to read or hear novels from a pre-selected list of 20 fiction nominees. The students participating must read or listen to a minimum of three titles from that list to be eligible for voting in the spring of each year.

"It's important for teachers, parents and librarians to know what children think of the books we give them to read," said book award chairman and Salt Lake City librarian Cathy Brasher. "I'm always surprised at how clearly the children express their choices."

At the May 6 meeting Brasher will introduce the nominees for the 1990 Utah Children's Book Award list. These include:

"Beethoven's Cat," by Elizabeth McHugh, Atheneum, 1988

"Black Star, Bright Dawn," by Scott O'Dell, Houghton Mifflin, 1988

"Brothers of the Heart," by Joan Blos, Scribner's, 1988

"Case of the Watching Boy," by Robert Newman, Atheneum, 1987

"Charley Skeddaddle," by Patricia Beatty, Morrow, 1987

"Cry Uncle," by Mary Jane Auch, Holiday House, 1987

"Cuckoo Clock," by Mary Stolz, Godine, 1987

"Facts/Fictions of Minna Pratt," by Patricia MacLachlan, Harper, 1988

"Gom on Windy Mountain," by Grace Chetwin, Lothrop, 1986

"I'll Meet You at the Cucumbers," by Lilan Moore, Atheneum, 1988

"Illyrian Adventure," by Lloyd Alexander, Dutton, 1986

"Luck of Z.A.P. and Zoe," by Athena Lord, Macmillan, 1987

"Magic Hat of Mortimer Wintergreen," by Myron Levoy, Harper, 1988

"Mail-Order Kid," by Joyce McDonald, Putnam, 1988

"Mermaid Summer," by Mollie Hunter, Harper, 1988

"Redwall," by Brian Jacques, Philomel, 1988

"Stinker from Space," by Pamela Service, Scribner's, 1988

"Teacher's Pet," by Joanna Hurwitz, Morrow, 1988

"This Island Isn't Big Enough for the Four of Us," by Gery Greer, Crowell, 1987

"Woof," by Allan Ahlberg, Viking, 1986