Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The "Hills" Are Alive with the Sound of Twitter

Tweets were flitting through cyberspace this past Thursday about the latest recipient of the Irma Simonton Black and James H. Black Award for Excellence in Children's Literature.  Although the award winner was announced on April 26th, the ceremony took place on May 19th.  Since 1973 this award has been given annually to an outstanding book for young children--a book in which the text and illustrations are inseparable, each enhancing and enlarging on the other to produce a singular whole.  This award honors the career of Irma Simonton Black as a writer, editor of children's books and one of the founding members of the Bank Street Writer's Laboratory.

What I love about this award and what sets it apart from other awards in this field in that the final judges are children.  An adult group of writers, librarians and educators select up to twenty-five books which they feel meet the criteria.  These twenty or so books are sent in four sets to the different grade levels of students attending the Bank Street School for Children.  After several weeks of reading and discussion four finalists are chosen.  These four are then sent to other schools in New York and in other states.  A winner is voted upon after four weeks of reading, discussion and re-reading.  Even though older students participate in the selection, the book must be geared for first through third grade readers.  The votes from the cooperating schools are tallied to declare a winner.  According to information at the Bank Street College Children's Library site more than 2,500 children vote on this selection.

Partnering with School Library Journal this year the number of voters increased to 9,500 in more than 94 schools.  How Rocket Learned to Read by Tad Hills, which was discussed here in a post on October 2, 2010, is most deserving of this honor.  In an blog interview at SLJ on May 19, 2011 with regards to winning this year Hills makes an interesting statement in light of numerous discussions being held about the impact of digital versus print.
 Digital applications come into play long after I've finished a book, not while I'm creating it. There are ebook versions of my "Duck and Goose" books. How Rocket Learned to Read is available as an ebook but also as an iPad app, which includes not only the book but some great interactive features and animation and a couple of learning games. But when I'm writing or illustrating, I don't think about the story or the pictures in terms of any possible future digital incarnation.

If you haven't found the time to read this gem yet, please do.  Nine thousand, five hundred children say you should.

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