Children’s Book Committee Honors Five BooksPosted by Elisabeth Jakab on March 05, 2012
Tales ranging from the creation of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, to the Titanic disaster, to the amusing trials of an older sister were among the five titles honored at the 2012 Children’sBookCommitteeAwards (CBC) on February 23, in the Bank Street auditorium.
The CBC Online
CBC Chair Linda Greengrass began the proceedings by noting that the award ceremony was live on Twitter, and that the CBC’s annual online Best Children’s Books of the Year, a free guide for parents, teachers, and children, listing more than 600 annotated titles divided by age and subject categories, will be released in mid-March. Lisa Von Drasek, Children’s Librarian and Director of the Center for Children’s Literature, said that Bank Street’s first e-book, the CBC’s new edition of The Best Books to Read Aloud with Children, will be sold for $2.99 on Kindle and Nook.
The New Cook Science Book Prize
President Elizabeth D. Dickey cited Bank Street’s long tradition of fostering children’s literature in announcing the new annual Cook Prize for best children’s science book, to honor the memory of two beloved Bank Street science educators, Michael Cook and Donald Cook.
Collaborative Aspect of the CBC
Alexis W. Wright, Dean of Children’s Programs, lauded the CBC’s collaborative aspect. Founded in 1912, the CBC is an all-volunteer organization with members drawn from a wide variety of professions; many are also Bank Street alums, parents, and faculty. Its cadre of Young Reviewers, ages 2–18, also have many Bank Street connections.
The Authors on their Works
In their acceptance speeches, the winning authors were as eloquent verbally as they were on the pages of their books.
Pat Schmatz, author of Bluefish, a young adult novel about the friendship between two troubled youngsters that won the Josette Frank Fiction Award, spoke movingly of the many drafts it took until she was satisfied with her depiction of “the life-saving role of small kindnesses, persistence, and paying attention” in the lives of her protagonists. (Pictured at top, Schmatz receives her award from Lisa Von Drasek.)
Melissa Sweet, author/illustrator of BalloonsOverBroadway: TheTrueStoryofthePuppeteerofMacy’sParade, one of two winners of the Flora Stieglitz Straus Non-Fiction award, was unable to attend. Her speech, read by a colleague, described her five years of research on the Italian immigrant who helped create Macy’s Parade. In examining his creative process, she realized that “play may be the most important element in creating art.”
Albert Marrin’s FleshandBloodSoCheap: TheTriangleFireandItsLegacy, the second Straus award winner, details immigrant life in early 20th century New York and how the tragic death of nearly 150 immigrant women in the 1911 fire spurred efforts to better working conditions for all Americans. A former professor of history, Marrin said history is important because “We cannot know who we are unless we know who we were.”
Allan Wolf, author of TheWatchThatEndstheNight: VoicesfromtheTitanic, one of two winners of the Claudia Lewis Poetry Award, discussed the 24 voices he created for his book, declaring that “there are as many perspectives as there are people,” and urged the audience to foster its own creativity. Formerly a performance poet, he ended with a dramatic piece, “The Greatest Nation,” which is, he said, “your imagi-Nation!”
Kristine O’Connell George, author of EmmaDilemma: SisterPoems, the second Lewis award winner, related how real life inspired her work. Illustrator Nancy Carpenter said her two young children taught her all she needed to know to illustrate the book. George ended her acceptance speech with a fervent acknowledgement to Bank Street and the CBC: “Thank you for all you do to ignite a passion for children’s literature!”