Finalist Feature: A Children’s History of Grand Marais, Minnesota: Ice Cream & Fish

Category: Communities Create

Description: Ice Cream & Fish: A Children’s Illustrated Guide to Grand Marais, Minnesota was created in the pandemic summer of 2020. Outdoor Book Camp kids produced Parts I & II of Ice Cream & Fish, guided by Minnesota Children’s Press adult mentors in a 10-day Outdoor Book Camp.

Outdoor Book Camp took place on the porches, lawns, playgrounds, rocks, shallows, and shoreline of Lake Superior in Grand Marais, Minnesota — an outside classroom — to ensure coronavirus-safe spaces with lots of fresh air, ample room for children to separate from each other — and play! — while being in proximity to collaborate on a book.

Part III illustrations were produced by 15 children in grades K-4 in a collaboration with the Cook County YMCA Kids’ Camp for a poster-parade of kindness.

Happy and connected — that’s a major goal of Outdoor Book Camp.

Outdoor Book Camp is a successful creative inquiry-based learning prototype involving four children in grades 5-7, and 15 children in grades K-4.

Organization: Minnesota Children’s Press is a new educational non-profit authoring and publishing collaborative. It’s a mobile, mentored publishing lab for Minnesota child authors, illustrators, designers, and editors in kindergarten-grade 10, or thereabouts.

Local Library: Arrowhead Library System

We asked Minnesota Children’s Press, “What does the library mean to your organization or the creation of your work?”

“Our Grand Marais Library is everything good and necessary to create and nourish an intellectually and civically engaged community: an intellectual, social and cultural lifeline connecting us to each other and a wider world in our small, isolated rural town. It is the safe hub… where as young authors, illustrators and publishers, we conduct market research on children’s books concepts, execution, style and design while we brainstorm ideas for next books. Through our library, we come to understand books as vessels of ideas and most of all, gain insights into why we read stories and the many many kinds we tell.”

Winners will be announced at the 2021 Minnesota Library Association Annual Conference.

Finalist Feature: The Youngest Boy

Category: Adult Fiction

Description: Jim Heynen’s stories about unnamed farm boys first appeared many years ago with The Man Who Kept Cigars in His Cap. Several collections of the boy stories have been published since then and have been models in the short-short or prose poem form now used by many other writers. This is the first collection to focus on the youngest boy, a character who can be a dreamer one minute, a trouble-maker the next, and a problem-solver the next. The youngest boy’s charm is in his unpredictability.

Author: Best known for his short-short stories about “the boys,” Jim Heynen has published widely as a writer of poems, novels, nonfiction, and short fiction.

Jim’s stories about the boys have been featured often on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered, as well as on radio in both Sweden and Denmark.

Minnesota astronaut George Pinky Nelson took a taped collection of the stories for bedtime listening on his last space mission. One collection of these stories, The Boys’ House, was named Editors’ Choice for Best Books of 2001 by The Bloomsbury ReviewNewsday, and Booklist.

Jim’s Local Library: Arrowhead Library System

Winners will be announced at the 2021 Minnesota Library Association Annual Conference.

Finalist Feature: I Know an Old Lady

Category: Adult Fiction

Description: It’s the summer of 1972, and Kansas wheat fields are baking under the relentless sun. Teenagers are celebrating the first taste of freedom as they line their pockets with newly printed driver’s licenses and long-awaited paychecks. Days off are spent at the town’s only lake, nights under the yellow lights of the drive-in restaurant.

But Billy Tupper’s life is a far cry from that of other teenagers. One mistake too many lands him in front of a judge who sentences him to a summer working for Old Lady Baxter, the victim of his latest carelessness… and the rumored child killer of Munroe, Kansas. As Billy sweats his way through endless months of mowing her lawn, weeding her garden, and painting her house, he also searches for the evidence to prove she’s guilty, but what he finds, and what he learns about himself, will change his life forever.

I Know an Old Lady is a touching coming-of-age story of loss and redemption, of understanding and compassion, and of a family torn apart and slowly put back together.

I Know an Old Lady
 is Billy Tupper’s story.

Author: Margaret Standafer lives and writes in the Minneapolis area with the support of her amazing husband and children and in spite of the lack of support from her ever-demanding, but lovable, Golden Retriever.

Margaret’s Local Library: Carver County Library

Winners will be announced at the 2021 Minnesota Library Association Annual Conference.