Books, Reviews, Prints

Michelle Coles’ Debut Novel Wins 2022 Grateful American Book Prize

Coles receives the top honor for her historical novel, Black Was the Ink

Ambushed! by Gail Jarrow and Speak Up, Speak Out! by Tonya Bolden will receive Honorable Mentions

September 20, 2022

Michelle Coles will receive the 2022 Grateful American Book Prize for her historical novel, Black Was the Ink [Tu Books] on October 20—by co-founder David Bruce Smith.

Kirkus Reviews remarked that it was “A dynamic look at how the past informs the future,” while the School Library Journal praised it for personifying an “historical period [Reconstruction] that is not often covered in teen literature.”

Author Michelle Coles, winner of the 2022 Grateful American Book Prize for her historical novel, Black Was the Ink [Tu Books]. Photo by Tony Garr Photography

Ambushed!: The Assassination Plot Against President Garfield [Calkins Creek]–by award-winning author Gail Jarrow–was selected by the judges to receive an Honorable Mention. School Library Journal lauded it as a “mesmerizing read” about the life—and 1881 death–of America’s 20th President.

Tonya Bolden’s Speak Up, Speak Out!: The Extraordinary Life of Fighting Shirley Chisholm [National Geographic Kids] will also get an Honorable Mention. Kirkus acclaimed Bolden for providing “An insightful and focused profile of a political trailblazer.” Chisholm was the first Black woman to be elected to the House of Representatives, and the first woman/first African American to seek the nomination for president.

Smith, also an author, and an education advocate, co-founded the Grateful American Book Prize with the late Dr. Bruce Cole, the longest-serving chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities [2001 to 2009].

The Prize consists of a $13,000 cash award in commemoration of the 13 original Colonies, a lifetime membership at the New-York Historical Society and a medallion created by Smith’s mother, the renowned artist, Clarice Smith. Honorable Mention recipients receive a cash award of $500 each, and the medallion.