2020 Zia Book Award

New Mexico Press Women Announces Zia Award Winners

The New Mexico Press Women Zia Award Chair is pleased to announce the results of this year’s Zia Awards Competition. NMPW started the Zia Award in 1953 to honor an outstanding New Mexico woman author. The award rotates yearly to one of three categories: nonfiction, fiction, and children/youth literature. This year, outstanding New Mexico women writers were chosen for their work in children’s and youth books.

Children’s Books

The first place 2020 Zia Book Award winner for children’s books is The Corn Whisperer by Sue Houser, with art by Ramon Shiloh. Houser is a native New Mexican who retired from a career in social work/counseling. The book is a trio of stories about young Charlie’s visits to his grandfather who lives at a pueblo. Grandfather relates stories about their ancient culture and how it relates to living in today’s world. “The re-storytelling of these legends, through written words and authentic art, brings the tales to life to new generations of readers,” one judge said.

Two honorable mentions were awarded to Goodnight, Los Alamos by Whitney Spivey, with illustrations by Los Alamos native Brenda Fleming, and to Home on the Rocking R Ranch, written and illustrated by Connie Perez. Spivey’s work features the city on the hill as the main character, whereas Fleming’s book presents colorful illustrations of life on a ranch.

Youth Books

The first place 2020 Zia Book Award winner for youth books is Karen Glinski’s Badge of Honor. An Albuquerque resident, Glinskiwas born in Japan as part of a military family. Her 162-page book weaves a Navajo boy and his grandfather into a ring of thieves, a bag of stolen Native jewelry, and a Code Talker. “A nice way to weave some important history into an enjoyable story,” said one judge.

Two honorable mentions were awarded to: Days of the Dead by Kersten Hamilton and to The Crossroads by Alexandra Diaz. Hamilton’s 247-page book features a girl living in a (fictional) New Mexico town as her mother’s ashes have gone missing ashes as the Day of the Dead approaches. Diaz’s 303-page tale relates the journey of a Guatemalan immigrant to New Mexico who meets kindness in unexpected places.



The Zia Award started in 1953 to honor an outstanding woman in New Mexico media. Each year the award rotates to one of three categories: nonfiction, fiction, and children’s literature. To accommodate this schedule, a book published in the last three years is eligible.

New Mexico Press Women (www.newmexicopresswomen.org) is an affiliate of the National Federation of Press Women (www.nfpw.org) and exists to provide professional development, networking, and First Amendment rights protection to professional journalists and communicators.