NEW YORK, NY (June 16, 2015)—Dr. Louise Mirrer, President and CEO of the New-York Historical Society, announced today that author Helen Frost will receive New-York Historical’s 2015 Children's History Book Prize for Salt (Macmillan, 2013), which tells the story of two 12-year-old boys growing up in the Indiana Territory in the midst of the War of 1812. The $10,000 prize is awarded annually to the best American history book, fiction or non-fiction, for middle readers ages 9–12. This year’s award will be presented by New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña on Thursday, June 18 at 12:30 pm in the New-York Historical Society’s Robert H. Smith Auditorium.
“We are pleased to present our 2015 Children’s History Book Prize to Helen Frost,” said Dr. Mirrer. “Salt is a moving book that reflects our mission to make history accessible to children through compelling narratives that allow them to develop personal connections to historical subjects.”
Frost’s Salt skillfully captures the similarities and differences between its two protagonists’ daily lives—Anikwa, a member of the Miami tribe; and James, the son of white settlers. Each page of the book, written entirely in verse, alternates between the boys’ stories. As the natural scarcity of supplies—especially salt—intensifies, the impending war causes the white settlers to threaten and ultimately drive out the Miami tribe. Consequently, the boys’ friendship and trust sours.
“Our educators and historians praise Helen Frost for her deep historical research and extensive consultations with Myaamia individuals living today in the Fort Wayne area to develop the book’s Native American protagonist,” said Alice Stevenson, Director of the DiMenna Children’s History Museum at the New-York Historical Society. “The jury also felt it provided a great entry point for younger readers to begin to understand the American Indian experience within the context of the War of 1812.”
The New-York Historical Society annually celebrates the work of an outstanding American history children’s book writer and publisher with the Children’s History Book Prize. The recipient is selected by a jury comprised of librarians, educators, historians, and families of middle schoolers.
At the New-York Historical Society and its DiMenna Children’s History Museum, visitors are encouraged to explore history through characters and narrative. The Children's History Book Prize is part of New-York Historical’s larger efforts on behalf of children and families, which include creative, multigenerational programs that champion a lifelong appreciation of history and literature. At the DiMenna Children’s History Museum’s popular monthly book club Reading into History, families discuss a historical fiction or non-fiction book they previously read at home, share their reactions, experience related artifacts and documents, and meet prominent historians and authors. Families are invited to join the next book wrap on Saturday, June 20 at 3 pm, which will feature a special Q&A with Helen Frost and fascinating artifacts from the War of 1812 pulled from New-York Historical’s collections.
About the Author
Printz Honor author Helen Frost was born in 1949 in Brookings, South Dakota, the fifth of ten children. She graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in Elementary Education and a concentration in English, and received her Master’s degree in English from Indiana University in 1994. Throughout her career, writing and teaching have been interwoven threads. Frost has published poetry, children's books, anthologies, and a play, as well as a book about teaching writing; and has taught writing at all levels, from pre-school through university. She is the recipient of a 2009 National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Fellowship.
About the New-York Historical Society
The New-York Historical Society, one of America's pre-eminent cultural institutions, is dedicated to fostering research and presenting history and art exhibitions and public programs that reveal the dynamism of history and its influence on the world of today. Founded in 1804, New-York Historical has a mission to explore the richly layered history of New York City and State and the country, and to serve as a national forum for the discussion of issues surrounding the making and meaning of history.
About the DiMenna Children's History Museum
The DiMenna Children’s History Museum at the New-York Historical Society presents 350 years of New York and American history through character-based pavilions, interactive exhibits and digital games, and the Barbara K. Lipman Children’s History Library. The DiMenna Children’s History Museum encourages families to explore history together through permanent installations and a wide range of family learning programs for toddlers, children, and preteens.