Bank Street College of Education Chooses Top 5 Winners Out of 600
Quoting Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Dr. Augusta Souza Kappner, the president of the Bank Street College of Education, last month welcomed an overflow crowd of educators, writers, editors, publishers, illustrators, librarians, publicists, teachers, administrators, counselors, psychologists, and students from the Graduate School—not to mention three young book reviewers—to one of the nation's premier literacy celebrations—Bank Street College's annual Children's Book Committee awards. "The five winners, chosen from 600 books that were selected for the Bank Street's library, were among over 4,000 entries competing for awards in three categories," noted Reuel Jordan, Dean of the School for Children: The Josette Frank Award for fiction, The Flora Stieglitz Straus Award for nonfiction, and The Claudia Lewis Award for poetry, shared this year by two selections. In addition, there was a first, a special Lifetime Achievement Award, which went to noted children's writer Karla Kuskin (over 50 books) for Moon, Have You Met My Mother? The Collected Poems of Karla Kuskin. The book was illustrated by Sergio Ruzzier, who told about having been warned to expect many requests for changes from the humorous though redoubtable Karla, but, he pointed out gleefully, she asked "only that a few whiskers be added to rabbit, that that was it."
The book awards ceremony coincided with the release by the Children's Book Committee of its highly regarded annual list of The Best Children's Books of the Year published in the U.S. and Canada (those 600 in the library) for infants through children up to 14 and comprising over 30 age and interest categories. The Committee itself, an independent non-for-profit advisory group, has been in existence for 92 years, with the last 25 or so housed at Bank Street. Alice Belgray, the chair of the Committee emphasized the importance of reading in an age of mass media. There's nothing like a bedtime story or the "euphoria" felt by children when they discover they can read. She also pointed out the uniqueness of the selection process, which includes a diverse group of children from all parts of the country, ages 7--16, who comment on text and illustration. This year, a 2 year old got into the game. Marjorie Salzberg, the Director of the Young Reviewer's Program, then delighted the audience with selections from some of the children's reviews.
The awards followed: Shannon Hale for The Goose Girl (fiction), based on the famous Brothers Grimm fairy tale, an extended story of challenge and hope which preserves the fantasy of the original; Karen Levine for Hana's Suitcase (nonfiction), a stunning tale of how an educator in Tokyo tracked down the final days of a young girl killed in Auschwitz and turned a Holocaust story into a universal plea for humanity; Hope Anita Smith for The Way a Door Closes, poems for older children, centering on the pain of separation from the point of view of an African American boy whose father leaves the family, after losing his job; and Jeron Ashford Frame for Yesterday I Had the Blues (poetry), illustrated by Gregory Christie, a charming, imaginative poem about colors as moods (guess which color is for "mother"). At the conclusion, the authors and their representatives held court in the lobby, and it was clear that publishers could count on brisk business.#
For further details, readers are advised to visit www.bankstreet.edu/bookcom.