As tensions remain strong in the United States after the overturn of Roe v. Wade, another important U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Loving v. Virginia, is the focus of How to Find What You're Not Looking For (Kokila, 2021), a book that has just won this year's New-York Historical Society's Children's History Book Prize.
How to Find What You’re Not Looking For, by Veera Hiranandani, tells the story of middle schooler Ariel Goldberg and how her life changes when her big sister elopes with a young man from India following the 1967 Supreme Court decision Loving v. Virginia. As she defines her own beliefs, Ariel is forced to grapple with both her family’s prejudice and the antisemitism she experiences.
“Veera Hiranandani has written a deeply compelling book that beautifully illustrates how a national event, like a Supreme Court decision, can impact everyday Americans, especially young people,” Dr. Louise Mirrer, president and CEO of New-York Historical, said. “It’s our honor to present Veera with this year’s Children’s History Book Prize.”
About the Children’s History Book Prize
The New-York Historical Society, located 170 Central Park West, awards the prize, which includes $10,000, annually to the best American history book for middle-school readers ages 9–12, fiction or nonfiction. A special online ceremony to celebrate the author will take place in the near future.
Hiranandani is the author of several other books for young people, including The Night Diary, which received the 2019 Walter Dean Myers Honor Award, the 2018 Malka Penn Award for Human Rights in Children’s Literature, and several other honors and state reading list awards. Her first novel for young readers, The Whole Story of Half a Girl, was named a Sydney Taylor Notable Book and was a South Asia Book Award Highly Commended selection. She’s also the author of the chapter book series Phoebe G. Green.
A former book editor at Simon & Schuster, Hiranandani now teaches creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College’s Writing Institute and is working on her next novel.
“I’ve never thought of myself as a historian and I’m not, in the academic sense, but my winding and somewhat unexpected journey as a writer of historical fiction for young people has been deeply rewarding,” Hiranandani said. “This book was inspired by the questions I’ve had about my own family history and how I came to be. Receiving this award is a great honor and personally validating knowing that more young people will read about the characters in this book who embody racial and religious identities which are not often centered in our experience of American history. It’s also a privilege to join the stellar list of finalists and previous winners.”
The book prize was selected by a jury comprising librarians, educators, historians, and families with middle schoolers. Finalists for this year’s Children’s History Book Prize were:
Defiant: Growing up in the Jim Crow South by Wade Hudson,
Finding Junie Kim by Ellen Oh
Race Against Time: The Untold Story of Scipio Jones and the Battle to Save Twelve Innocent Men by Sandra Neil Wallace and Rich Wallace.
Children's History Book Prize: Past Winners
Past winners of the Children’s History Book Prize include:
Never Caught, The Story of Ona Judge by Erica Armstrong Dunbar and Kathleen Van Cleve, telling the true story of Ona Judge, an enslaved woman who dared to escape to freedom from George and Martha Washington.
Out of Left Field by Ellen Klages about one girl’s discovery of the long history of women who played baseball
Fred Korematsu Speaks Up by Laura Atkins and Stan Yogi (authors), Yutaka Houlette (illustrator) about a young Japanese American man who defied U.S. governmental orders by refusing to report to prison camps during World War II.
Unbound: A Novel in Verse by Ann E. Burg about a young enslaved girl who, forced with the horror of being permanently separated from her family, urges them all to flee to the swamps.
Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan about children facing daunting challenges—rescuing a father from the Nazis, keeping a brother out of an orphanage, and protecting the farm of a Japanese family during internment.
Salt: A Story of Friendship in a Time of War by Helen Frost about two boys whose friendship is tested when the War of 1812 divided native and settler communities in the Indiana Territory.
The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine about a young girl in Little Rock, Arkansas, who sees her city and family divided over school integration.
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