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Firoozeh Dumas’ It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel Receives Inaugural
New Americans Children’s History Book Prize


NEW YORK, NY – May 16, 2017—Dr. Louise Mirrer, president and CEO of the New-York Historical Society, announced today that author Ann E. Burg will receive New-York Historical’s Children’s History Book Prize for Unbound (Scholastic Press, 2016). The prize of $10,000 is annually awarded to the best American history book for middle readers ages 9–12, fiction or non-fiction. This year’s award will be presented by New York City School’s Chancellor Carmen Fariña on May 31 at 12:30 pm in New-York Historical Society’s Robert H. Smith Auditorium.

“It is with great pleasure that we present this year’s Children’s History Book Prize to Ann E. Burg,” said Dr. Mirrer. “Based on the narratives of former enslaved people and told in rhythmic verse, Unbound connects young readers to a period of American slave history that is little known but extremely important. Our jury was struck by how Burg’s compelling writing style breathed new life into a subject that can often feel overshadowed by its sheer magnitude, by focusing on the personal plight of one courageous young girl.”

In Unbound, a novel written in verse, Burg shares the fictional story of an enslaved family’s harrowing escape as they seek sanctuary in the wilds of the Great Dismal Swamp. Based on historical accounts of an actual refuge for escaped slaves, Unbound centers on nine-year-old Grace, whose strong, distinct voice allows her emotion and determination to shine. Ann E. Burg will be on hand at New-York Historical on May 21 at 2 pm for DiMenna Children’s History Museum’s Reading into History Family Book Club. The author will answer young readers’ questions about Unbound, followed by a chance for families to visit the galleries to explore artifacts related to the novel. The event is free with Museum Admission.

Dr. Mirrer also announced that author Firoozeh Dumas will receive the inaugural New Americans Children’s History Book Prize for It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel (Clarion Books, 2016). This prize awards $2,000 to the best American history book for middle readers ages 9–12, fiction or non-fiction that speaks to the history, issues, and personal stories of immigrants in the United States. This award is part of New-York Historical’s new initiative, The Citizenship Project, which offers free civics and American history workshops and other educational and digital tools to prepare green card holders to succeed on the naturalization exam. In addition, The Citizenship Project aims to examine the basic principles of our American Constitution through an engaging and instructive museum guide that uses artifacts, documents, and art from New-York Historical’s permanent collections to answer questions from the 100-question naturalization test.

“The young Iranian immigrant in It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel who struggles to fit in reflects the experience of many young immigrant New Yorkers,” said Jennifer Schantz, New-York Historical’s executive vice president and COO who leads The Citizenship Project. “Awarding Dumas with the inaugural New Americans Children’s History Book Prize, New-York Historical Society also celebrates our nation’s cultural and ethnic diversity. This new prize, part of our Citizenship Project, furthers our mission of making history matter by sharing the untold stories of life in America and what it means to live in a nation built by immigrants.”

It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel  follows Zomorod (Cindy) Yousefzadeh, once again the new kid on the block, but this time she’s determined to abandon her brainy loner persona and start afresh with a new Brady Bunch name—Cindy. It’s the late 1970s and fitting in becomes more difficult as Iran makes U.S. headlines with protests, revolution, and finally the taking of American hostages. Dumas will also be present at the May 31 ceremony at New-York Historical.

“Burg and Dumas have written captivating and meaningful narratives about our country’s past,” said Alice Stevenson, director of DiMenna Children’s History Museum, who oversees the book prizes. “These stories and characters provide a unique vehicle to spark conversations among parents and kids about the struggles, big and small, people have faced―and continue to face―in this country.”

Finalists for the Children’s History Book Prize included Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk, Ten Days a Madwoman by Deborah Noyes, and It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel by Firoozeh Dumas. The recipients of this year’s book prizes were selected by a jury comprising librarians, educators, historians, and families of middle schoolers. For the first time, an online poll invited the public to cast a vote for their favorite as well.

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. The DiMenna Children’s History Museum regularly presents programs where families explore history together. At its popular monthly family book club Reading into History, families discuss a historical fiction or non-fiction book they previously read at home, share their reactions, discover related artifacts and documents, and meet historians and authors. New-York Historical’s work with middle school readers and their families is grounded in the belief that offering creative opportunities to engage the entire family helps young readers grow and thrive.

About Ann E. Burg, author of Unbound
Author of Serafina’s Promise and All the Broken Pieces, among many, Ann Burg began writing poems as a child in Brooklyn. Her picture and middle reader books are recognized by ALA and Booklist and have received starred reviews from Kirkus and School Library Journal. In a recent interview with New-York Historical’s History Detective kid’s blog, Burg said: “We are so used to reading history in generalities. We read that millions of people were enslaved, massacred, or left homeless, but we seldom grasp what a number so large actually means. Every tallied scratch-mark is an individual human heart with unique potential, aspirations, and experiences.”

About Firoozeh Dumas, author of It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel
Firoozeh Dumas is an award-winning author whose first book Funny in Farsi was on the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and Los Angeles Times bestseller lists and was a finalist for the PEN/USA award in 2004 and a finalist in 2005 for an Audie Award for best audio book. She has written short stories, novels, articles, and opinion pieces, and she lectures widely at schools, conferences, and festivals. Dumas was born in Abadan, Iran, and her family has lived in Canada, the United States, and Europe. “Historical fiction is the most enjoyable way to learn history,” she recently told New-York Historical’s History Detective blog. “We all love a great story!”

About the New-York Historical Society
The New-York Historical Society, one of America’s preeminent 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.

Press Contacts
Ines Aslan                                                               Marybeth Ihle
New-York Historical Society                              New-York Historical Society
(212) 485-9263                                                       (212) 873-3400 ext 326
Ines.aslan@nyhistory.org                                 Marybeth.ihle@nyhistory.org

Tuesday, May 16, 2017
Creative: Tronvig Group