Mysticism, science fiction and tragedy mark the 2014 American Indian Youth Literature Awards from the American Indian Library Association, with Tomson Highway, Joseph Bruchac and Tim Tingle all winning honors this year.
Caribou Song, Atihko Oonagamoon, written by Tomson Highway and illustrated by?John Rombough (Fifth House, 2012) won for best picture book; Tingle’s How I Became a Ghost: A Choctaw Trail of Tears Story?(The Roadrunner Press, 2013) won in the Middle School category, and Bruchac’s graphic novel Killer of Enemies?(Tu Books, 2013) received the Young Adult award.
Two other books received honorable mention. Danny Blackgoat, Navajo Prisoner, also by Tingle (7th Generation, 2013) was noted in the Middle School category, and If I Ever Get Out of Here, by Eric Gansworth?(Arthur A. Levin Books, 2013), was highlighted in the Young Adult category. Gansworth’s book was also highlighted by Debbie Reese of the website American Indians in Children’s Literature as among her favorite books.
The American Indian Youth Literature Awards, presented every other year, seek “to identify and honor the very best writing and illustrations by and about American Indians,” the library association said in a media release. “Books selected to receive the award will present American Indians in the fullness of their humanity in the present and past contexts.”
How I Became a Ghost is a tragic tale that gives life to Choctaw walking the Trail of Tears, and then takes it away. Its protagonist is Isaac, a Choctaw boy who does not survive the long walk. Killer of Enemies is a graphic sci-fi novel set in a future in which technology has stopped working, plunging the world back into a new steam age. A 17-year-old girl, Lozen, finds herself a hero. Caribou Song tells of Joe and Cody, young Cree brothers who embrace the spirit of the caribou as they entice the animals with music.
The American Indian Library Association, which is celebrating its 35th anniversary, announced the awards on January 26 at the ALA Midwinter Conference in Philadelphia.