Apple in the Middle receives National Honors

NDSU Press wins yet another award for one of their recently published books

The cover of Apple in the Middle originally published in 2018 by NDSU Press.

NDSU Press is excited to announce that, Apple in the Middle, a book published by NDSU Press in 2018, written by Dawn Quigley has earned national honors from the American Indian Library Association, an affiliate of the American Library Association, commonly referred to as the ALA. Apple in the Middle was the Press’s first book in their Contemporary Voices of Indigenous Peoples book series. The ALA award hosts well-known medals like the John Newbery Medal and the Randolph Caldecott Medal. This honor is seen as a huge success for the Press. I interviewed Dr. Kelley about the award and what other details she had to add about what the aware means for NDSU Press.

Q: What inspired the book, Apple in the Middle?

A: The author, Dawn Quigley, gained inspiration for her book from her own personal life. Like the narrator, Dawn is half white, half Native American. The book is a young adult novel about a 15-year-old girl, Apple, who grows up in a white community, but goes to Turtle Mountain for the summer after her dad dies. Through her experience over the summer, the narrator learns about herself and her culture. 

There is a lot of culture shock the narrator has to work through, that when read comes off as humorous at times. It is also a very eye-opening and sad story as well. I have read it seven times now and even though I know it’s coming (the sad part) it still gets me. 

Q: What organization awarded ‘honors’ to Apple in the Middle?

A: The American Library Association (ALA) is known for its prestigious awards. Apple in the Middle earned national honors for the 2020 American Indian Youth Literature Award. This was the first year of this award and it will only be offered every other year. 

Q: How did you find out the news?

A: My phone started ringing and multiple states called me. We sold over 500 copies of the book in a few days after finding out the news of the award. Book buyers from FollettBound Books, contacted us about buying copies of the book with the intention of repackaging them with stronger bindings so that school libraries can then buy them and place them in their library. 

Q: What does this mean for NDSU’s Press?

A: The awarded honors have brought the Press into the national forum and built up the Press’ reputation. Because of the national attention, the book is now present in around 400 different libraries across North Dakota. The Flicker Tale book awards will be using the book for their annual competition as well as Michigan for their “Great Books, Great Lakes” award.

While the book has impacted the Press, it has also greatly impacted Dawn. Apple in the Middle was Dawn’s debut novel, the first book she ever published. She now has a contract with a new publisher, Harper Collings, for an additional three more books, which is amazing.

Q: What exciting things are next for the Press?

A: We have received interest in translating the novel into another language, as well as making it into a digital E-book. 

Q: Why is this book important?

A: This book is important because it works to integrate Indigenous life into everyday life through an Indigenous perspective. When talking about Indigenous peoples we often refer to their past, this book gives a contemporary (modern) voice to Native Americans and is also written by someone who identifies with and is proud of her culture. 

The NDSU Press has made the decision not to italicize words that are of Native American origin, recognizing that language from indigenous people should not be recognized as something that is “foreign.” Dr. Kelley is hoping other publications follow suit and stop.

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