Lexington resident and children’s author Mary Knight received the 2017 Green Earth Book Award in Children’s Fiction for her debut novel, “Saving Wonder,” at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.

The Nature Generation, the award’s sponsor, annually recognizes the best in children’s books that inspire young readers to be active, environmental stewards. Knight also shared environmental writings from Lexington students during the award celebration.

Set in the Appalachian Mountains of eastern Kentucky, “Saving Wonder” focuses on its protagonist, 12-year-old Curley Hines, as he tries to save his mountain from mountaintop removal mining at the risk of having to leave his family home.

“It’s like winning the Newbery of the environmental world,” said Knight about the award, “and that happens to be a world that I love.”

During her D.C. visit, Knight gave a presentation about her book and “Sustainable Global Solutions” to 85 6th-graders at the Sidwell Friends School. She also appeared on an author panel with two other Green Earth Book Award-winners – Nancy Castaldo and Maris Wicks – during the final celebration event.

During her remarks on the panel, Knight shared the writings of two young Lexington authors, Nina Tay and Madison Maxfield of Fayette County’s School for the Creative and Performing Arts (SCAPA). Inspired by Knight’s novel and lessons created by SCAPA writing teacher Karen Sellers, Tay’s poem, “Dead Letter to the Eastern Cougar” explores the emotions around the loss of a species gone extinct, while Maxfield’s “Letter to the Council of All Beings: I Am a Mountain” addresses the effects of mountaintop removal mining from the point of view of the mountain.

“People were amazed that these young writers were only in 5th grade,” Knight said.