A Kittery author has won a prize from the New York Historical Society for the best American history book for middle readers.

Last week Rodman Philbrick was named winner of the society’s Children’s History Book Prize for “We Own the Sky,” which came out last year and is set in Maine in 1920. A ceremony for the prize, which comes with a $10,000 award, will take place on June 14.

The story focuses on two orphans who are taken in by their aunt, a daredevil circus pilot, as the Ku Klux Klan was spreading white supremacist ideology and anti-immigrant sentiment in the Northeast.

Philbrick has published more than a dozen books for young readers, including “Freak the Mighty,” which was adapted into a movie.

“We’re pleased to present Rodman Philbrick with this year’s Children’s History Book Prize, especially as he’s brought to light a little-known portion of history,” said Dr. Louise Mirrer, president and CEO of the New York Historical Society. “The themes of found family and community created within the context of the book are powerful and an important reminder that we are stronger together, particularly when facing extreme ideologies and hateful rhetoric.”

Philbrick grew up in New England and now divides his time between Maine and Florida. He has been writing novels since he was 16. His other titles include “The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg,” which was set during the Civil War and was chosen in 2010 as a Newberry Honor Book. In 2020, he received the Katahdin Award from the Maine Library Association, which recognizes an outstanding body of work in children’s literature in Maine.

The award recognizes fiction or nonfiction. Other finalists this year were “The Other Side of the River” by Alda P. Dobbs, “The Lucky Ones” by Linda Williams Jackson, and “The Star That Always Stays” by Anna Rose Johnson.

Comments are no longer available on this story