Children’s Book Committee


The Josette Frank Award

This award for fiction honors a book or books of outstanding literary merit in which children or young people deal in a positive and realistic way with difficulties in their world and grow emotionally and morally. The award has been given annually since 1943. Josette Frank, the editor of anthologies for children, served for many years as the Executive Director of the Child Study Association of America of which this committee was a part.

The Flora Stieglitz Straus Award

Established in 1994 to honor Flora Straus, who led the Children’s Book Committee for many years, this award is presented annually for a distinguished work of nonfiction that serves as an inspiration to young people. Flora Straus stood for the values of courage, hard work, truth, and beauty while adapting to a changing world. She believed that books about varying cultures enrich and help all children in their growth. She championed diverse opinions and points of view and was a person of high principles, unfailing courtesy, and deep understanding.

The Claudia Lewis Award

The Claudia Lewis Award, given for the first time in 1998, honors the best poetry book of the year. The award commemorates the late Claudia Lewis, distinguished children’s book expert and longtime member of the Bank Street College faculty and Children’s Book Committee. She conveyed her love and understanding of poetry with humor and grace.

Children’s Book Committee Awards 2020

When the Ground is Hard
Josette Frank 2020

Flora Stieglitz Straus
(co-recipient) 2020

Flora Stieglitz Straus
(co-recipient) 2020

Claudia Lewis 2020

When the Ground Is Hard
(G.P. Putnam & Sons)
Author: Malla Nunn. Josette Frank 2020. Acceptance Speech. | April 2, 2020
Josette Frank Award 2020

  • Young Reviewer: Reese – 16 years-old, 10th grade

    When the Ground Is Hard

    I absolutely adored this book. There are little to no young adult books about segregation in South Africa, and I was so excited when I learned the premise of the book. When the Ground Is Hard didn’t disappoint or lower my expectations whatsoever and Nunn’s novel was an excellent example of storytelling while still displaying a point. Obviously, there was an educational purpose of the novel, but it didn’t stop the plot from developing, and it only added to the story; it wasn’t the story itself.

    The story is about friendship and understanding that social classes and norms are not what define us. The setting and additional conflicts just made the book more interesting. Adele was an extremely interesting character, and I really appreciated the fact that almost every character in the novel developed throughout the book, including side characters that didn’t play a major role. The development of Adele and Lottie’s friendship isn’t rushed and seems to be extremely realistic, which I appreciated, and this goes for all of the relationships in the novel. The relationships made sense, and even minor relationships were shown, not told, which is a key element of realism in books. Overall, this book was perfect, and there isn’t a single thing I would change.

    Coming of age novels are an essential part of readers’ understanding of the world around them, and they influence an absurd amount of teenagers’ lives. Nunn’s novel, When the Ground Is Hard is an excellent example of storytelling that engrosses and relates to teens while still expressing a social issue, a rare but important aspect of current novels. The variety of relationships portrayed in the novel are developed naturally, and the book brought awareness to overlooked history while also relating to millions of girls across the world.

Infinite Hope:  A Black Artist’s Journey from World War II to Peace
(Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books)
Author: Ashley Bryan. Flora Stieglitz Straus 2020. Acceptance Speech. | April 2, 2020
Flora Stieglitz Straus Award 2020

  • Young Reviewer: Greer – 13 years-old, 8th grade

    Infinite Hope:  A Black Artist’s Journey from World War II to Peace

    I really enjoyed the reality of this book. When I read that it wasn’t a made-up story, but a real person who existed back in World War II, it made the story so much better because this was coming from a real life experience. This book was very well written and I loved how the book displayed the information. Some pages were just his painting while others had letters and writing. The use of different formats made the book special and more engaging to read. I really enjoyed Ashley Bryan’s story and it opened my eyes to the discrimination during World War II. I very much enjoyed this book.

    I loved the illustrations in this book. They enhanced the story so much and really showed what it was like back then in the war. They perfectly balanced with the words and gave examples of what it was like and made you feel like you were there. I really enjoyed the pictures.

  • Young Reviewer: Kalila – 10 years-old, 5th grade

    I read the book Infinite Hope: A Black Artist’s Journey From World War Ⅱ to Peace and I really liked it. It is very informative and very interesting. I liked learning about Ashley Bryan’s experience in World War Ⅱ and not just in the war but also what it is like to be a soldier and make new friends as a soldier (at least for him). I think it’s very important for people to know how bad segregation actually is and that there are ways not to have segregation and this book showed that.

    I wouldn’t say I was inspired by this book, but I did learn from it. I haven’t learned about World War Ⅱ much until now and it was fun to explore because that was a different kind of war than the other two wars that I have learned about (the Civil War and the Revolutionary War).

    One thing I really enjoyed was how Ashley Bryan incorporated the pictures and letters that he drew and wrote during the war. They were very enjoyable and he is an amazing artist and writer. The pictures and letters made the story even more real for me.

    At first, I did not think I was going to like Infinite Hope because I usually prefer fiction to non-fiction, but it turned out to be a really great book!

Enemy Child: The Story of Norman Mineta, A Boy Imprisoned in a Japanese American Internment Camp
During World War II

(Margaret Ferguson Books)
Author: Andrea Warren. Flora Stieglitz Straus 2020. Acceptance Speech. | April 2, 2020
Flora Stieglitz Straus Award 2020

  • Young Reviewer: Alex – 11 years-old, 6th Grade

    Enemy Child: The Story of Norman Mineta, A Boy Imprisoned in a Japanese American Internment Camp During World War II

    Enemy Child is about a boy who is Japanese, in World War 2 his family was taken to the camps that Japanese people were put in after Pearl Harbor. What makes this book special is that it tells the story of the person, and it’s a real story. It gives his emotions of what he felt during that time. He tells his life story, and I feel like I wouldn’t be comfortable talking about that type of stuff, like how people from his neighborhood were being taken and he was always worried his family would get arrested, his father would get arrested. His father helped Japanese people, which was the people they were targeting most. What I liked most about this book is the way he shares his feelings. There was this one quote that his father had told him about not letting people bring you down that really stood out to me.

    The thought of how people actually went through that and how scary it was for them.

    I really like them because they are actual real photos. It shows how things really happened and how people reacted to it.

Voices: The Final Hours of Joan of Arc
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers)
Author: David Elliott. Claudia Lewis 2020. Acceptance Speech | April2, 2020
Claudia Lewis Award 2020

  • Young Reviewer: Arya – 14 years-old, 9th grade

    Voices: The Final Hours of Joan of Arc

    This book is definitely one of the best novels in verse I have ever read. I found it impossible to do anything but finish it in one sitting, and then quickly proceed to read it again. The poems varied in style and point of view, making the story of Joan of Arc especially dynamic and intriguing. Personifying different items Joan encountered along her journey in poems such as “The Red Dress” and “The Stake” was extremely effective in creating an image of Joan’s background and the life she was expected to have in comparison to her bold, valiant, and undeniably good nature.

    It also reminds twenty-first century readers of how radical her decisions were considered by the public in the context of the time period. The unwavering voice of Joan reflects the fire in her heart, contagious to readers because of the clear voice and inspiring message ever present in the text. One of my favorite aspects of Joan’s character as portrayed in the book was the bold passion for justice she brought to every obstacle. David Elliot was extremely successful in inspiring all readers with the same goodness she took in her stride and inciting a variety of emotions through the use of different kinds of language, specifically length of phrase and repetition. One example that especially impacted me was the suspense and fear that rose as the fire built up higher and higher, specifically the ending through the perspective of Saint Catherine. Overall, Voices: The Final Hours of Joan of Arc is an inspiring book fit to teach a new generation of the legendary story of Joan of Arc, filled with so much attention to detail making it necessary for one to read it again and again.

    The cover is beautiful and reflects Joan’s boldness wonderfully, but the images created with the formatting of the text on each page made for distinction and movement from page to page, creating art in the shape of the perspective each poem is written from.

    I would recommend this book for ages 12 and up. I think the fate Joan faced is a little dark for younger readers, but her story and the verse and language Elliot uses to tell it are worth the read for all ages.

  • Young Reviewer: Alyssa – 15 years-old, 10th grade

    Voices: The Final Hours of Joan of Arc

    Elliott’s Voices is written with eloquence and a great amount of detail. This book portrays the last few day’s of Joan of Arc’s life and the two pivotal trials, Trial of Condemnation and Trial of Nullification, which give us insight before and after her death. In the Trial of Condemnation, the readers see Joan answering questions in her own words that her accusers are asking her; however, since the Trial of Nullification took place about twenty-four years after Joan’s death, the readers understand her story from the perspective of many witnesses.

    I really enjoyed the unique perspective of Joan’s story being told from objects like a sword, candle, knife, and dress. Additionally, I thought it was both clever and creative how the poems were shaped in the object or theme that the content of the poem covers. This adds a fun and engaging quality to the reading because it is abstract and often not seen in other stories told in the form of poetry. Another aspect of the book I loved is the amount of history the reader can grasp from what felt like such a fun, innovative, and easy to read novel. When I first received Voices, I expected that some of the history about Joan of Arc would get lost because it is hard to write eloquently in poetry verse, while trying to maintain the rhyme scheme, but also including as much detail about the trials as possible. I thought that with trying to keep the word choice on point, I would not get a good entire history of the St. Joan of Arc, so I read about her in advance. However, I was pleasantly surprised about how much I learned about Joan from David Elliott and it made reading the poems more enjoyable because it did not feel like a history lesson, but instead a fun and breezy read.

    Furthermore, when I revisited the cover of the book, every piece of the puzzle finally fell into place. The title cleverly indicates the voices that navigated the readers through Joan’s journey and it alludes to the characters that we hear from and how they heighten and elaborate about Joan’s personality.

    Finally, I was very happy that the illustrator drew Joan in such a prominent and bold way. On the cover, Joan looks like a true fighter and hero because of what looks like a spotlight shining on her face. I was also pleasantly surprised by this because during the Medieval Ages, women were at the bottom of the hierarchy and had almost no rights, however, this cover seems to prove quite the opposite.

    This was a wonderful read and I was so happy with many aspects of Voices – The Final Hours of Joan of Arc by David Elliott. I would definitely recommend this book to a friend or family member anyone who wants to learn history in a fun way because I believe it was written with such talent and expertise.