PAST AWARD WINNERS & FINALISTS
Noel Hankin was the 2022 winner of the memoir/autobiography category with his absorbing history of Black-owned discos in ’70s New York, After Dark: Birth of the Disco Dance. The jurors for this category – Jo Henry of BookBrunch, writer and bookseller Mary Webber O’Malley and Sophia Stewart of Publishers Weekly – said of the book: “Anyone with any sort of interest in ’70s music or music history will find this a fascinating read.”
Amanda, Toy Engineer by Aubre Andrus was the winner in the children’s category. A book for young readers about a mechanical engineer and marathon runner, Amanda teaches readers about science, technology and more. Jurors said, “Amanda, Toy Engineer is an informative, fun, and friendly insider’s look at what goes into toy design…. It’s approachable, dynamic, and effectively blends infographics with photographs, captions, and prose.” Judges were Joshua Carlson, Youth Librarian at the White Plains Public Library, Leslie ‘Lam’ Miller, CEO at Girl Friday Productions and Matia Madrona Query, BookLife editor.
The winning title in the fiction category, Sisters of the Sweetwater Fury by Kinley Bryan, tells the tale of the Great Lakes Storm of 1913, inspired by the author’s great-grandfather’s life. The book was praised by the judges – Robin Cutler of LMBPN Worldwide Publishing, Rachel Kerr of BookBaby Publishing and writer and book reviewer Gabino Iglesias – as an “impressive debut that packs in a lot, but with a solid economy of language and good pacing. Well researched too.”
Lilianne Milgrom won this prize for L’Origine (Little French Girl Press, ISBN 978-1-7348670-0-8), a work of fiction woven through the provenance of one of the world’s most infamous and controversial works of art, L’Origine du Monde, painted in 1866 by Gustave Courbet. “L’Origine is the result of 10 years of research and writing”, Milgrom said, “but what kept me going was my absolute and unwavering obsession with wanting to get the story out into the world!” Robin Cutler, president of LMBPN Worldwide Publishing and one of the judges, said: “Milgrom’s thorough research, knowledge and emotional attachment to the paining is enhanced by a sweeping fiction narrative that puts us in touh with major historical events and figures spanning 1866 to the present day. On my next trip to Paris I will be visiting the Musee d’Orsay to see the painting with newfound appreciation because of this book.”
Author Naibe Reynoso and illustrator Ana Varela won this new category with their joyful picture book How to Fold a Taco (Con Todo Press, ISBN 978-1-7337103-6-7). Reynoso said “How to Fold a Taco was written to honor and celebrate my Latino heritage but also to make kids and parents smile, as it is a colorful and imaginary rhyming adventure with dragons, magicians, dinosaurs and more. But to honor my culture, it was important to include my mom’s family taco recipe, and a brief history of the taco, which is now one of the most beloved dishes of America.” Judge Paige Allen, director of IngramSpark, added: “Along with elements of science, language, culture, history and cuisine, the book ensures that readers will head straight to the kitchen or la cocina to indulge in a night of tacos and fun.”
Tim Westover, The Winter Sisters
The U.S. Selfies Awards judges called Westover’s book “an absorbing, well-researched and beautifully written novel” set in antebellum Georgia.
Jo Henry, managing director of BookBrunch and a juror for the awards, said, “This is a brilliantly realized depiction of the conflict between new scientific theories and traditional herbal remedies, set in a small 19th-century community under threat of rabies. Will the superstitious townsfolk trust to the new doctor or the three sisters—witches to some, healers to others—to cure them? With excellent sales and a sound marketing plan, Westover is a worthy winner.”