Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story. Written by Kevin Noble Maillard; illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal. Roaring Brook Press

Native authors win accolades for sharing family stories in books

Two Native authors who are sharing stories about Native family life have been recognized with prestigious book awards.

Kevin Noble Maillard, a law professor and citizen of the Seminole Nation, received the Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal for Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story. The book, which was illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal, shows how fry bread, a staple of modern Native life, has transcended land, tribal nations and time.

"Having a community of indigenous educators who love books, understand native history, and be picky about fry bread recognize and celebrate the book feels pretty darn great," Maillard wrote on social media after learning of the award earlier this week. He also said: "It's my first award for anything since childhood."

Johnny’s Pheasant. Written by Cheryl Minnema. Illustrations by Julie Flett. University of Minnesota Press

Native family life through generational eyes is depicted in Johnny’s Pheasant by Cheryl Minnema, who is a citizen of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe. Her work, which was illustrated by Cree-Métis artist Julie Flett, has been recognized with the Charlotte Zolotow Award for outstanding writing in a picture book.

"When Johnny urges his grandma to pull over for a 'small feathery hump' near the ditch, they discover it’s a pheasant. Johnny’s certain it’s sleeping," the Cooperative Children's Book Center said this week in awarding Johnny’s Pheasant. "Grandma guesses it was hit by a car, but she can use the feathers in her craftwork."

"With a 'Hoot! Hoot! from both boy and bird, this perfectly paced narrative offers humor, wonder, warmth, and a child-centered sensibility," the award committee said.

Maillard was recognized by the Cooperative Children's Book Center as well. Fry Bread made the organizations list of Honor Books.

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