2020 Phoenix Award Recipients

The Phoenix Award Committee is delighted to announce the selections for 2020. We have a terrific Phoenix Roundtable planned for ChLA 2020 that includes Phoenix authors and local kids.  We hope you’ll join us.

2020 Phoenix Award Winner:

Many StonesMany Stones by Carolyn Coman
Namelos, 2000

Many Stones is a book about weight – the weight of stones, the weight of grief, the weight of history.  Coman’s writing offers nuanced insights, minute by minute, into a vexed father-daughter relationship in the painful aftermath of the murder of Berry’s older sister. During a trip to South Africa for the memorial service, Berry and her father see their American affluence and privilege in a new way. The novel explores the country’s ongoing racism and poverty, legacy of its past, and hopes for a healing future, while always keeping the focus on Berry’s struggles to have her own moments of “truth and reconciliation.” The parallels are kept from being heavy-handed by Berry’s scathingly honest voice. In this vividly realized South African setting, a former prisoner held with Nelson Mandela shares what helped him to survive: "'You have to have stories,' he says. He says it so fiercely that I hold my breath. He shakes his tightened fist as if it holds all the stories that were taken out of all the letters, and then he doesn't say any more."

2020 Phoenix Award Honor Recipient:

145th Street145th Street: Short Stories by Walter Dean Myers
Ember, 2000

Once again Walter Dean Myers honors Harlem in this place-centered collection of fourteen linked short stories. 145th Street interweaves voices and tones, offering both a tight focus on place and a broad range of personalities. Some stories are lighthearted: in one, Big Joe throws himself a funeral, so he can enjoy it while alive; in another, a high school basketball player worries about wasting a streak of good luck. Others present haunting depictions of violence. Throughout, we meet a cast of characters, from young to very old as they face challenges, celebrate triumphs, and care for each other. Myers crafts a neighborhood epic – heartbreaking and funny -- in which each voice is a crucial part of 145th Street.

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