The NAACP gives two Image Awards each year for outstanding literary work for youth. One is for children’s books and the other for teens. I admit to being cranky that Undefeated and New Kid didn’t make their nomination lists!
Here are the winners in each of those categories along with the titles that were nominated:
OUTSTANDING LITERARY WORK – CHILDREN
WINNER – Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o, illustrated by Vashti Harrison
Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry, illustrated by Vashti Harrison
Parker Looks Up by Parker Curry and Jessica Curry, illustrated by Brittany Jackson
A Place to Land: Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Speech That Inspired a Nation by Barry Wittenstein, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney
Ruby Finds a Worry by Tom Percival
OUTSTANDING LITERARY WORK – YOUTH/TEENS
WINNER – Around Harvard Square by C.J. Farley
The Forgotten Girl by India Hill Brown
Her Own Two Feet: A Rwandan Girl’s Brave Fight to Walk by Meredith Davis and Rebeka Uwitonze
Hot Comb by Ebony Flowers
I’m Not Dying with You Tonight by Gilly Segal and Kimberly Jones
Tanna’s Owl by Rachel and Sean Qitsualik-Tinsley, illustrated by Yong Ling Kang (9781772272505)
Based on the story of the owl one of the author’s cared for as a child, this picture book offers a glimpse of life in the Arctic as an Inuit family. Tanna’s father came back from hunting with a baby owl. It was so ugly, it was somehow also cute. The owl had to be fed two or three times a day, so Tanna and her siblings caught lemmings to feed it. The owl, named Ukpik (or owl in Inuktut), lived in her father’s workshop. When the owl was hungry she would stomp her feet, sway back and forth, and chomp her beak. Soon Ukpik wanted even more to eat and everyone was tired of catching lemmings, so they started to feed her other types of meat, including caribou and fish. Her beak was very sharp, so now she had to be fed with gloves on. When summer ended, Tanna had to return to school in another community. She didn’t return home until the next summer. That’s when she found out that Ukpik had been set free. But maybe the large white owl that she saw around their home was Ukpik coming back to visit.
The authors clearly share both sides of caring for a wild animal. There is the initial joy of learning about the animal and starting to be able to understand their needs and ways of communication. Then there is the drudgery of the ongoing care. At the same time, there is a delight in being that close to a wild creature, of knowing it needs to learn to fly away someday, and knowing you are helping in some way. The book also shows modern Inuit life complete with an unusual way of attending school.
The art is large and bold with the images fully filling both of the pages. Readers will get to see the transformation of the owl from small and gray to a graceful white bird. They will also get glimpses of the Inuit home and the wide-open setting of the Arctic.
An inspiring picture book for kids who dream of caring for wild animals themselves. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from e-galley provided by Inhabit Media.