Milkweed Prize for Children’s Literature Awarded to Molly Beth Griffin

by Will Wlizlo

The 2012 Milkweed Prize for Children’s Literature has been awarded to Molly Beth Griffin for her novel Silhouette of a Sparrow. The prize, established in 1994, awards the best manuscript for young readers that Milkweed accepts for publication during the calendar year by a writer not previously published by Milkweed. Judged by the editors of Milkweed Editions, the winner of the prize receives a $10,000 cash prize.

Molly Beth Griffin is the recipient of a Minnesota State Arts Grant, a graduate of Hamline University’s MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults, and a writing teacher at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. Her first picture book, Loon Baby, came out with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2011. Silhouette of a Sparrow is her first novel. Four reading events are scheduled in the Twin Cities.

Silhouette of a Sparrow is a coming-of-age story about the search for wildness in a confining time—a tale of a young woman discovering both the art of rebellion and the power of unexpected love. Sent to spend the summer with distant relatives at a resort hotel in Excelsior, Minnesota, sixteen-year-old Garnet Richardson—budding ornithologist; reluctant troublemaker; adventurous spirit—quickly compiles a list of all the things she wants to do: sneak into the new amusement park, wander the countryside looking for new birds, and somehow convince her mother to let her attend college. It’s 1926 and Garnet is well aware of the world’s expectations for her: after this summer with her relatives, she is to marry, settle down, and become a housewife. But what no one expects—least of all Garnet—is that she’ll fall in love with the beautiful and daring Isabella, a flapper at the local dance hall. It is she who will give Garnet the courage to take control of her own life and pursue her dreams.

Milkweed Editions is committed to publishing the highest quality books for young readers. Previous prize winners—such as Perfect, Parents Wanted, The $66 Summer, The Ocean Within, and Behind the Bedroom Wall—introduce young readers to memorable characters struggling with the kinds of difficult decisions that young people of any era must face.

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