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Inupiaq Author Wins Newbery Honor

Inupiaq author and illustrator Nasugraq Rainey Hopson recently won two special honors for her debut novel, Eagle Drums, a magical realistic middle grade tale about the origin story of the Inupiaq Messenger Feast, a Native Alaskan tradition. She was awarded both a Newbery Honor and an American Indian Youth Literature Award. The hero of her book is Pina, a young, skilled hunter who must travel up the mountain to collect obsidian – the same mountain where his two older brothers died. When he reaches the mountaintop, he is immediately confronted by a terrifying eagle god named Savin who gives the boy a choice: follow me or die like your brothers. What comes next is a harrowing journey that is based on oral Inupiaq myth filled with fantastic creatures and adventures. Hopson’s book is based on stories that used to be passed down from generation to generation to teach young people morals and values such as unity and generosity. She said, “In our culture, it’s very important not only to get along but being able to share and encourage and support each other. She also said, “I would like this to encourage Indigenous people to write, especially for children. Writing is incredibly healing.”

Image at top: Nasugraq Rainey Hopson pictured with her book, Eagle Drums. Photo courtesy of Hopson’s Facebook, used with permission.

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