3.6.18 Malka Penn Award Ceremony: Suzanne Del Rizzo

Please join us as we present the inaugural

Malka Penn Award for Human Rights in Children’s Literature


Suzanne Del Rizzo


My Beautiful Birds Cover


Featuring remarks by the Rev. Ann Plumley

Co-Leader of the Quiet Corner Refugee Resettlement Project


Tuesday, March 6, 2018
4:00pm – 5:30pm

Reception to Follow


Konover Auditorium
Thomas J. Dodd Research Center
University of Connecticut

Using simple, poetic language and stunning illustrations created from polymer clay and acrylic paints, the Suzanne Del Rizzo tells the story of a young Syrian boy, Sami, fleeing war with his family.

As Sami struggles with the loss of his home and pet birds, he slowly adjusts to a new life in a refugee camp. Eventually he finds hope in a trio of wild birds, as well as by expressing his feelings through art, and by reaching out to help another refugee child.

About the Author

Suzanne Del Rizzo has always loved getting her hands messy. She traded her job in scientific research for a career in children’s books, creating dimensional illustrations with polymer clay, acrylic paint, and other media. Picture books Suzanne has illustrated include: Skink on the Brink, by Lisa Dalrymple (Fitzhenry &Whiteside, 2013), Gerbil Uncurled, by Alison Hughes (Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2015), Sky Pig, by Jan Coates (Pajama Press 2016), and soon to be released Sun Dog, by Deborah Kerbel (Pajama Press, 2018). In 2015, looking for resources to explain the Syrian Civil War to her own children, Suzanne came across the article of a boy who took solace in a connection with wild birds at the Za’atari refugee camp. Struck by the universality of a child’s relationship to animals, she began writing My Beautiful Birds, her debut as author-illustrator. In 2017 My Beautiful Birds was a New York Times Notable Children’s Books selection, a Junior Library Guild selection, and the 2017 One Book, One San Diego for Kids selection. It also won the Malka Penn Award for Human Rights in Children’s Literature and was an honorable mention for the Middle-East Book Award. She lives in Oakville Ontario with her husband and 4 children.




Suzanne Del Rizzo



About the Quiet Corner Refugee Resettlement Project

QCRR (Quiet Corner Refugee Resettlement) is a co-sponsorship partner of IRIS (Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services) responding to the urgent world-wide refugee crisis. QCRR is leading the effort to resettle refugee families in the Quiet Corner of Connecticut through a broad, interfaith team and a strong partnership with WAIM (Windham Area Interfaith Ministries). It is the intent of the QCRR to resettle multiple refugees families in our community over time.

QCRR is led by a volunteer Core Team from various faith communities and walks of life. Though physically based at The First Church of Christ, Congregational, in Mansfield Center, QCRR enjoys the active support of nearly 40 faith communities and over 300 Quiet Corner residents. We invite individuals of good will and community groups of all sorts to join us in this collaborative effort. You can join the email list or obtain more information by emailing qcrr.411@gmail.com.

Malka Penn Award Logo Color

The Malka Penn Award is given annually to the author of an outstanding children’s book addressing human rights issues or themes, such as discrimination, equity, poverty, justice, war, peace, slavery or freedom.  Within these larger themes, the award committee is particularly eager to recognize stories about individuals – real or fictional, children or adults – who have been affected by social injustices, and who, by confronting them, have made a difference in their lives or the lives of others.

The award is named in honor of author Michele Palmer, whose generous gift helped to establish the award.  Ms. Palmer has written over a dozen books for children and adults, including three children’s books under the pseudonym Malka Penn (The Miracle of the Potato Latkes, The Hanukkah Ghosts, and Ghosts and Golems).  Ms. Palmer has also curated numerous art, book, and history exhibits at UConn and elsewhere. One of her exhibits at the Dodd Center – “After Anne Frank: Children’s Books About the Holocaust” – led to her establishing the Malka Penn Collection of Children’s Books on Human Rights in the Archives and Special Collections at the Dodd Center.