Book Awards


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2021 Winners

The first time I saw a portrayal of a stutterer was in the film A Fish Called Wanda. I was ten years old, and up until that point had never seen or heard anyone else who stuttered. Michael Palin plays the character, “stuttering Ken,” a bumbling, nervous, unintelligent, and angry person who is always the victim of violence.

I Talk like a River is a book made of many things and made by many hands. But at its core its main ingredients are love and acceptance. Having illustrated this book, I can say with confidence that it was the purest and most positive collaborative experience in my book-making life.

My twelve-year-old self thought she would write fast and a lot. Back then, I raced through homework to get to the next pages of my autobiographical novel: Rita at Highland ­Elementary by Rita Highland Williams. The “­Highland”? As everyone knows, a serious writer should have three names! I chose the name of my beloved ­California elementary school to cement my serious-writer status.

But what about Vincent Chin?

That was the first question to pop into my head when The Detroit News offered me a job as a full-time reporter in the summer of 1993. That was also the first question my Asian American friends asked me. “Are you scared of going to Detroit because of Vincent Chin?”


History and description of the award, submission guidelines, and a list of past winners and honor books.


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