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SDHC Announces 2023 One Book Selections

January 28, 2023

South Dakotans of all ages have new titles to add to their reading lists after the announcement of the 2023 One Book South Dakota selections for adults and youth.

During a special online presentation, the South Dakota Humanities Council announced the 2023 One Book South Dakota, The Seed Keeper by Diane Wilson, and the 2023 Young Readers One Book, The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo.

Both authors will appear at the South Dakota Festival of Books, Sept. 22-24 in Deadwood. DiCamillo will also speak in Rapid City on Sept. 21, while Wilson will visit several communities this summer on her One Book Author Tour.

Wilson and DiCamillo have been audience favorites at past Festivals. “They are not only wonderful writers, but incredible communicators,” said Jennifer Widman, director of the South Dakota Center for the Book. “Both on the page and in person, they have that rare ability to connect with their readers and draw them in, which is such a great asset for the kind of conversations we hope to spark.”

About Wilson and The Seed Keeper

A haunting novel spanning several generations, Wilson’s The Seed Keeper follows a Dakota family’s struggle to preserve their way of life. Its main character, Rosalie Iron Wing, draws strength from the knowledge that she is descended from women with souls of iron, women who have protected their families, their traditions, and a precious cache of seeds through generations of hardship and loss.

“At the heart of The Seed Keeper is a true story about Dakota women who, during the 1862 Dakota war in Minnesota, when they were being removed from the state and didn’t know where they were going to go or how they would feed their families, they sewed their seeds into the hems of their skirts and hid them in their pockets,” Wilson said.

“I wanted to show how it is our responsibility [to care for] the gift of these seeds and to look at how that relationship has changed over many years and what that change means not only for us as human beings, but also for the seeds themselves. It’s very much my love story to the seeds.”

In addition to The Seed Keeper, Wilson has written a memoir, Spirit Car: Journey to a Dakota Past, and a nonfiction book, Beloved Child: A Dakota Way of Life. She is the executive director for the Native American Food Sovereignty Alliance, a national coalition of tribes and organizations working to create sovereign food systems for Native people. A member of the Oceti Sakowin Writers Society (formerly the Oak Lake Writers Society), Wilson is a Mdewakanton Dakota descendent, enrolled on the Rosebud Reservation, and lives in Shafer, Minnesota.

“So much of my writing and research has been centered in South Dakota, so to be able to come back to a land where I feel such a strong family rootedness and to share these stories, this is a great honor for me,” Wilson said. “I’m excited for these conversations, so put the coffee on! I’m happy to come visit.”

About DiCamillo and The Tale of Despereaux

Kate DiCamillo was the first featured author when the Young Readers One Book program launched in 2014. That year, students in the eastern part of the state received copies of The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, and DiCamillo met readers in Brookings and Sioux Falls.

She still treasures the experience of speaking to more than 1,800 students in two groups at the Washington Pavilion. “It was 900 kids that you bused in from all over, so you would think that was a recipe for chaos, but we all connected so powerfully,” DiCamillo said. “They were just the most present and engaged kids. They gave me their hearts, and I gave them my heart in return.”

For the 10th Young Readers Festival, SDHC will distribute 12,000 copies of The Tale of Despereaux, which is celebrating the 20th anniversary of its publication this year, to South Dakota third graders. The hero of this Newbery Medal-winning book is Despereaux Tilling, a mouse who is in love with music, stories, and a princess named Pea. It is also the story of a rat called Roscuro, a serving girl named Miggery Sow, and the adventures that bring them together.

“There’s something really powerful about writing books for kids,” DiCamillo said. “I think of it as peripheral magic. All those things that you stop believing when you’re an adult are still possible when you’re a kid. Something miraculous is happening just out of the corner of your eye. I love tapping into that.”

DiCamillo was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, raised in Clermont, Florida, and now lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Her books include Because of Winn-Dixie, a Newbery Honor winner; and The Tiger Rising and Raymie Nightingale, both National Book Award finalists. She also writesthe Mercy Watson and Tales from Deckawoo Drive series, and she co-writes the Bink and Gollie series with Alison McGhee. DiCamillo served as the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature for 2014-2015.

About the One Book Programs

Since 2003, SDHC’s One Book program has encouraged people across South Dakota to read and discuss the same book through the year. For more information or to apply to host a discussion, please visit Copies of The Seed Keeper will soon be available via the SDHC lending library, and groups may also engage an SDHC scholar to lead their discussion if desired. The Young Readers One Book program began in 2014 to encourage enthusiasm for reading among youth. For more information, please visit Special edition copies of The Tale of Despereaux will arrive this summer and be distributed to third graders at the beginning of the 2023-2024 school year.

Learn more about humanities programming in South Dakota by signing up for SDHC e-Updates!