Monday, January 25, 2021

Eric Gansworth (Sˑha-weñ na-saeˀ) -- Member of Eel Clan, Enrolled Onondaga -- Makes History for APPLE (SKIN TO THE CORE)

Today, Eric Gansworth (Sˑha-weñ na-saeˀ), member of the Eel Clan, enrolled Onondaga, born and raised at the Tuscarora Nation won an Honor Award from the American Library Association's Printz Committee for his memoir, Apple (Skin to the Core). 

It marks the first time a Native writer was selected to receive distinction in the Printz category. Published by Levine Querido, Gansworth's book is shown here, with the Printz Honor Sticker affixed to the cover: 

The Printz Award, first awarded in 2000, is for a book that exemplifies literary excellence in young adult literature. That excellence is seen in the range of presentation Gansworth uses to convey his story. Readers will find poems, prose, photographs, and Gansworth's original art as they read this book.

Apple (Skin to the Core) will resonate with Native people of one Native Nation who, perhaps due to the history of boarding schools, end up on another reservation. Or whose grandmother or great grandmother had a job cleaning the home of a white woman--one legacy of the outing programs at the boarding schools. Or who spends time with family photo albums and sees uncles in things like a Batman costume. 

Gansworth's book spans from "the horrible legacy of the government boarding schools, to a boy watching his siblings leave and return and leave again" to "a young man fighting to be an artist who balances multiple worlds." Many will recall being called an apple by tribal members. That slur (red on the outside, white on the inside) is meant to sting, but Gansworth has a different perspective on it that I like quite a lot.  

Searing and poignant, humorous and endearing, it is clear why Apple (Skin to the Core) was selected for an Honor by the Printz Committee. 

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