Lee & Low Announces 2021 New Voices Award Winner

New York, NY—January 18, 2022—LEE & LOW BOOKS is proud to announce that Maleeha Malik of Baltimore, Maryland, is the winner of the company’s twenty-second annual New Voices Award. Her picture-book manuscript At Home in My Skin features a child with vitiligo—a skin disorder that causes depigmentation—who embraces their individuality by drawing connections between their skin’s ever-changing patterns and the designs in nature.

Maleeha Malik is a second-grade teacher who is pursuing a master’s degree in children’s literature at Hollins University. Her manuscript was inspired by her experiences living with vitiligo and a solo camping trip she took where she found patterns in nature that mimicked those on her own skin. Malik hopes young readers, especially those with noticeable skin conditions, will read At Home in My Skin and know they belong in this world—that there is space for everyone to love and thrive in their unique skin. Malik will receive a prize of $2,000 and a publication contract.

LEE & LOW BOOKS is also excited to announce that Jessica Mehta from Hillsboro, Oregon, will receive the New Voices Award Honor for her picture-book manuscript One of Kokum’s Kids. Inspired by Mehta’s experience adopting her daughters, One of Kokum’s Kids explores the everyday life of an Indigenous/Native child in the foster care system and the meaningful friendships and bonds they build with others in their community.

Jessica Mehta is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and a multiple-award-winning interdisciplinary writer, artist, and storyteller. She wants readers to understand that every adoption story is unique. However, Indigenous/Native children in foster care and adoption must deal with some particular challenges, especially since these systems are inherently colonial ones. She hopes One of Kokum’s Kids will further the conversation about the disparities experienced by Indigenous/Native children in the foster care system. Mehta will receive a prize of $1000.

Congratulations to Maleeha Malik and Jessica Mehta!

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