Maleeha Malik, a student in Hollins University’s Master of Fine Arts program in children’s literature, is the winner of Lee & Low Books‘ 22nd annual New Voices Award.
Established in 2000, the award is given annually by the children’s book publisher for a picture book manuscript by a writer of color or Indigenous/Native writer.
Malik, a second-grade teacher from Baltimore, Maryland, was honored for At Home in My Skin. The manuscript 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. Malik 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. She wrote the manuscript last summer in her African American Children’s Literature class at Hollins taught by Michelle Martin, the Beverly Cleary Endowed Professor for Children and Youth Services in the Information School at the University of Washington. The renowned author, essayist, lecturer, book critic, and community literary activist helped Malik shape the manuscript for publication.
“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,” Lee & Low Books said in a statement.
Malik will receive a $2,000 cash prize and a publication contract.