Dr. Brittany Luby has won the 2022 Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Award for her second children’s book, Mii maanda ezhi-gkendmaanh: This Is How I Know.
The award, in the Children’s Picture Book category, was presented at the Faywood Arts-Based Curriculum School in North York. Student jurors select the winners; this year’s jurors for the category were elementary students in the Deaf and Hard of Hearing program.
The story-poem by Luby, a College of Arts professor in the Department of History, recounts in both Anishinaabemowin and English how an Anishinaabe child and her grandmother interact with the seasons and their surroundings.
The book was inspired by Luby’s childhood memories of Knowledge Keepers north of the Great Lakes. It was illustrated by Joshua Mangeshig Pawis-Steckley and translated into Anishinaabemowin by Alan, Alvin and Mary-Ann Corbiere.
The Schwartz awards are administered by the Ontario Arts Foundation with support from the Ontario Arts Council. Luby’s book won because the jurors “loved the gentle story and the vibrant colours” and because telling the story in both Anishinaabemowin and English was “very cool.”
“As a creative, you practice hope – hope that your message will reach and resonate with others,” said Luby, who has previously won and been nominated for other literary awards.
Last year, Mii maanda ezhi-gkendmaanh: This Is How I Know was a finalist for the 2021 Governor General’s Literary Award. Her other children’s book, Encounter, was shortlisted for the inaugural Sheila Barry Best Picturebook of the Year Award.
In 2021, Luby received the Governor General’s History Award for Scholarly Research for her 2020 book, Dammed: The Politics of Loss and Survival in Anishinaabe Territory, about impacts of Canadian hydroelectric development on Indigenous communities.
The Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Awards were established in 1976 by Sylvia Schwartz in memory of her bookseller sister, Ruth. Two annual $6,000 awards are presented in the categories of picture books and young/adult middle readers.
“I am beyond grateful for the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Award – it is a sign that my work has found good company: young readers,” said Luby. “Thank you, miigwetch, to the student jurors for allowing me this dream.”