2019 Writer Award
Sullivan said, “Winning the EJK Award means a lot to me. It means my book has played a small part in bringing people together. Done well, a children’s book shows that people have the same hopes and fears, and that how we behave, not surface differences, is most important.”
When asked what inspired the idea for his book, Sullivan added, “My first year as a night watchman, many years ago, I found a stray kitten on a worksite, fell in love with her, named her Beebe and we spent the next 17 years together. My book tells our story while showing children the value of compassion for animals.”
Kitten and the Night Watchman
Published by Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books
2019 Illustrator Award
Mora said, “I have always looked up to Ezra Jack Keats and I am incredibly honored to be a small part of his storied legacy. Keats understood that diversity isn’t an ideal, diversity is our world. For my grandmother, cooking was about bringing people together. My books are my way of honoring that love and sharing it with the world.”
Like Keats, Mora illustrated her book using collage, and remarked, “I approach collage with no rules. A sky can be yellow. A map can be a pot holder. A floral pattern a savory stew. Spontaneity is what makes collages exciting to make and look over. I use collaged text throughout the book to seamlessly blend my writing, and art together.”
Thank you, Omu!
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
2019 Honor Books
Illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal
Does Alma Sofia Esperanza José Pura Candela need all these names? Alma doesn’t think so until Daddy tells her the fascinating story of the ancestors with whom she shares a name and a wonderful character trait. The story deftly shows a child that the world is bigger than she thought, but in a warm and comfortable way.
Lena’s Shoes are Nervous
Illustrated by Juana Medina
Atheneum Books for Young Readers
First of all, it isn’t Lena who’s nervous about school, it’s her shoes. Luckily, Lena is a gifted negotiator, well up to the task of giving her shoes the confidence they need to be brave. Also refreshing is the fact that Dad is the patient parent in the background, making sure Lena’s shoes get where they need to go.
Illustrated by Matt James
Mom cries a lot at Uncle Frank’s funeral, but it turns out to be okay. Norma and Ray fidget at the service, sneak outside to play during the home visit and have some great adventures. Norma decides Uncle Frank would have enjoyed his funeral. Written from the child’s perspective, this book provides a gentle picture of an experience that could otherwise frighten a child.
Julián is a Mermaid
Written by Jessica Love
The fluid and lyrical images of this book work in perfect tandem with the simple text to tell the story of how Julián and his Abuella flow gracefully into the stream of participants in a mermaid parade. We aren’t sure how Abuella will feel about Julián dressing as a mermaid but it’s wonderful when we see how matter of factly she supports his dream.
Written by Jane McGuinness
You may not have known that you wanted to learn everything about hedgehogs but the engaging illustrations in this book do everything but actually hug you into its world. Hedgehogs may be prickly but children will return often to this non-fiction book because the world of the hedgehog looks like a happy, warm, snuggly place.