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American Indian Youth Literature Award Winners!

May 28th, 2012 by Carrie Gleason

This year we are very proud to announce that two Lorimer authors received commendations from the American Indian Library Association. This puts authors Jacqueline Guest and Melanie Florence in very good company — previous years' winners have included Sherman Alexie and Thomas King. 

Jacqueline Guest

The winner of the American Indian Youth Literature Award in the Middle Grade category was Jacqueline Guest's Sports Stories novels Free Throw and Triple Threat. Jacqueline Guest has written thirteen novels for Lorimer — each one featuring a Métis or aboriginal main character. Guest, who is Métis, lives in Bragg Creek, Alberta.

Free Throwtriple threat

Both novels share main character Matt Eagletail, an avid basketball player. The stories deal with family change when Matt's mom marries a non-native and he moves from the reserve where he grew up. To get through the tough times, Matt falls back on his love of basketball.

 Jordin Tootoo

Jordin Tootoo: The highs and lows in the journey of the first Inuit to play in the NHL by Cree writer Melanie Florence is an American Indian Youth Literature Award Honour Book. Last year we talked to Melanie about her reasons for writing this book, here is that interview.

Melanie Florence


Q: Why did you think the story of Jordin Tootoo was an important one to tell kids? 

A: My grandfather was a product of the Native residential school system and was taught to be ashamed of his culture and heritage. We’re lucky to live in a time and place of pride in ourselves and our culture. It’s people like Jordin who show kids that they can accomplish anything, no matter where they’re from or how much money they have.   


Q: Jordin Tootoo is a hero for many Inuit and Aboriginal youth, many of whom will be envious that you got to talk to him for this book. Can you tell us what Jordin is really like?

A: Jordin was amazingly helpful. He took the time out right after a hockey practice with the Preds to call me and was amazingly gracious and generous with his time and with his answers.  He not only agreed to be interviewed, he provided personal photos for the book.  He was so down to earth and he so enthusiastically talked about the kids he works with and being a role model. I found him so approachable and friendly.

I was pleased when Jordin's mother later sent an email to my publisher and was interested in getting copies of the book not only for herself but for their extended family as well.  I’ve also gotten so many emails from Preds fans asking questions about the book, asking if I’d be doing any signings in Nashville and just showing amazing support for the book and for Jordin.  Nashville fans are amazing!


Q: Recently, Tootoo has been reported to be in rehab for alcohol abuse. What effect do you think that will have on his place in the hearts of Aboriginal kids as a role model?

A: I actually don’t believe this will tarnish his image at all. This is a man who recognized a problem and got help. Substance abuse is pretty common in professional sports and it’s no secret that it’s incredibly common in Aboriginal communities as well. I think the important thing is that he recognized the problem and did what he had to do to overcome it. If anything, it’s just one more thing to look up to. Another thing that he had to fight and successfully overcome.


To celebrate Aboriginal Heritage month we’re offering a 35% discount (not to be used with any other promotional offer from Lorimer) on the three award-winners.

Our American Indian Youth Lit Award triple pack:

($9.95 ea x 3 = $29.85; our June price is $19.40, a $10 saving!)


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