The Sigurd F. Olson Nature Writing Award committee has awarded author Sigrid Schmalzer and illustrator Melanie Linden Chan top prize in children’s literature for Moth and Wasp, Soil and Ocean: Remembering Chinese Scientist Pu Zhelong’s Work for Sustainable Farming. The awards, given for best nature writing in 2018, were announced today in time for Earth Day.
Moth and Wasp is the story of scientist Pu Zhelong who in the 1960s taught farmers in Communist China how to forgo pesticides and instead use parasitic wasps to control the moths that were decimating the crops.
Schmalzer is a professor of history at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, has lived in China, holds a doctorate in modern Chinese history and science studies, and is the author of several books on Chinese history. This is her first children’s book.
Chosen from 53 nominations, the SONWA Committee selected Moth and Wasp for its exceptional illustrations and for how it brings to life critical and timely questions inherent in debates about different methods of farming.
“Firmly rooted in Chinese culture, Schmalzer’s story engages children and adults alike in universally shared concerns for ecological balance—shengtai pingpheng—in matters of food policy and security,” said Jan Penn, a member of the SONWA selection committee..
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. To read about the SONWA adult titles.
Back from the Brink: Saving Animals from Extinction, Nancy F. Castaldo (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
The Girl Who Drew Butterflies: How Maria Merian’s Art Changed Science, Joyce Sidman (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Ellie’s Strand: Exploring the Edge of the Pacific, M. L. Herring and Judith L. Li (Oregon State University Press)
How to be a Good Creature: A Memoir in Thirteen Animals, Sy Montgomery (author) and Rebecca Green (illustrator) (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Errol’s Garden, Gillian Hibbs. (Children’s Play International)
Hush Hush, Forest, Mary Casanova (author) and Nick Wroblewski (woodcuts) (University of Minnesota Press)
Nature’s Friend: The Gwen Frostic Story, Lindsey McDivitt (author) and Eileen Ryan Ewen (illustrator) (Sleeping Bear Press)
Robert Bateman: The Boy Who Painted Nature, Margriet Ruurs (author) and Robert Bateman (artist) (Orca Book Publishers)
Trash Vortex: How Plastic Pollution is Choking the World’s Oceans, Danielle Smith-Llera. (Compass Point Books)