2017 Malka Penn Award Winner

The winner of the 2017 Malka Penn Award for Human Rights in Children’s Literature:

My Beautiful Birds

by Suzanne Del Rizzo

published by Pajama Press

My Beautiful Birds Cover


“My Beautiful Birds” embodies the intention behind the Malka Penn Award: to present stories of individuals who have been affected by social injustices, and who, by confronting these injustices, have made a difference in their own lives and/or the lives of others.

Using simple, poetic language and stunning illustrations created from polymer clay and acrylic paints, the author/illustrator tells the story of a young Syrian boy 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.

The award was announced November 4, 2017 at the Connecticut Children’s Book Fair during a reception at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center. The award will be presented this spring, at a date to be announced, at a special program at the Dodd Center.


The awards committee has also chosen three honor books:


by Alan Gratz

Refugee Cover a compelling middle-grade reader about refugee children from three different historical periods, who attempt to escape persecution, poverty and war
Somos como las nubes
We Are Like the Clouds by Jorge Argueta
Somos como las nubes cover powerful and beautiful bi-lingual poems about the migration of thousands of children from Central America
Us, in Progress:
Short Stories about Young Latinos by Lulu Delacre
Us in Progress Cover touching and evocative stories of immigration, deportation, prejudice and other issues facing Latinos in America