The Northland College Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute has announced the winning 2019 books for the Sigurd F. Olson Nature Writing Award (SONWA).
Author Diana Beresford-Kroeger has been selected for the top prize in nature writing for her autobiographical release, To Speak for the Trees: My Life’s Journey from Ancient Celtic Wisdom to a Healing Vision of the Forest.
The SONWA committee awarded author Sophia Golz and illustrator Kayla Harren the top prize in children’s literature for The Boy Who Grew a Forest: The True Story of Jadav Payeng, a book that affirms the potential for youth empowerment and action, said the SONWA committee.
“Both of the winning books offer inspiring stories of individuals who overcame significant personal trauma and hardship to speak and act for the trees and forests that sustain all human life on earth,” said Alan Brew, executive director of the Sigurd Olson Environmental Institute. “They meaningfully carry forward the citizen-activist and artistic legacies of Sigurd Olson.”
Since 1991, the SONWA has honored the literary legacy of Sigurd Olson, who attended Northland College and is the namesake of the College’s environmental institute, by recognizing and encouraging contemporary writers who seek to carry on his tradition of nature writing.
The SONWAs are announced in time for the birthday of Sigurd F. Olson. Born April 4, 1899, Olson is considered one of the most influential conservationists and prominent writers in American history. His books have inspired an appreciation for nature among many generations of readers.
The SONWA Committee also named three notable books: Into the Planet: My Life as a Cave Diver, by Jill Heinerth, The Rise of Wolf 8: Witnessing the Triumph of Yellowstone’s Underdog, by Rick McIntyre, and Sea People: The Puzzle of Polynesia, by Christina Thompson.
In the children’s category, they awarded an honorable mention to Mario and the Hole in the Sky: How a Chemist Saved Our Planet, by Elizabeth Rusch, illustrated by Teresa Martinez and notable distinction to Ricky in the City: Where the Wildlife Live, by Judith L. Li and M. L. Herring and The Lost Forest,” by Phyllis Root, illustrated by Betsy Bowen.