Johnny’s Pheasant, written by Cheryl Minnema, illustrated by Julie Flett, and published by University of Minnesota Press in 2019, is the winner of the 2020 Charlotte Zolotow Award for outstanding writing in a picture book.
This gorgeous, graceful story about a Native family, written by an Ojibwe author and illustrated by a Cree-Métis artist, is both satisfying and surprising. The drama and wonder unfold in a spare, beautifully crafted text when Johnny and his grandma find “a small feathery hump” near the ditch. It’s a pheasant. Grandma guesses it was hit by a car, but Johnny is certain it’s only sleeping. The perfectly paced narrative is full of humor, warmth, and a deeply child-affirming sensibility. “Hoot! Hoot!”
The 2020 Charlotte Zolotow committee named five honor books:
- Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story written by Kevin Noble Maillard and illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal (Roaring Brook Press / Macmillan)
- A Map into the World written by Kao Kalia Yang and illustrated by Seo Kim (Carolrhoda / Lerner)
- Pokko and the Drum written and illustrated by Matthew Forsythe (A Paula Wiseman Book / Simon & Schuster)
- Saturday written and illustrated by Oge Mora (Little, Brown)
- Truman written by Jean Reidy and illustrated by Lucy Ruth Cummins (Atheneum / Simon & Schuster)
The committee also named 7 highly commended titles:
- Beware of the Crocodile written by Martin Jenkins and illustrated by Satoshi Kitamura (U.S. edition: Candlewick Press)
- Daniel’s Good Day written and illustrated by Micha Archer (Nancy Paulsen Books / Penguin Random House)
- Goodbye, Friend! Hello, Friend! written and illustrated by Cori Doerrfeld (Dial Books / Penguin Random House)
- My Papi Has a Motorcycle written by Isabel Quintero and illustrated by Zeke Peña (Kokila / Penguin Random House)
- One Fox: A Counting Thriller Book written and illustrated by Kate Read (Peachtree)
- Small in the City written and illustrated by Sydney Smith (Neal Porter Books / Holiday House)
- The Thing about Bees: A Love Letter written and illustrated by Shabazz Larkin (Readers to Eaters)
The award is named for the late Charlotte Zolotow, author of more than 70 books for young children, and a distinguished editor of books for children and teens at Harper.
A full press release will follow soon.