Press Release: 2012 EJK Bookmaking Awards

EJK Bookmaking

Posted 5/2/2012

Sheree Wichard, 718-788-9585,
Donel Young, 732-295-2406,

City-wide Student Winners of 26th Annual Ezra Jack Keats
Bookmaking Competition Announced By
Ezra Jack Keats Foundation and New York City Department of Education

The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation and the NYC Department of Education announced the city-wide winners of the 2012 Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking Competition (from left): Tyler Learns How To Tie His Shoes, by Deidre Darius (Grade 11, LaGuardia High School, Manhattan); Rebirth, New York, by Anne Wang (Grade 7, William McKinley, Brooklyn); Detour to 1938, by Shelley Polanco (Grade 4, The Museum School, Bronx); and Arrows and the Butterfly, by Dyanara Banana (Grade 12, James Madison High School, Brooklyn).

More than 120 Winning Books on Exhibit May 2-31 at Brooklyn Public Library
“Snowy Day in May” Family Festival May 12th at Library

NEW YORK—APRIL 26, 2012—The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation in partnership with the New York City Department of Education announced today the winners of the 26th annual city-wide Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking Competition for grades 3-12.  More than 120 winning books will be on display at the Brooklyn Public Library Central Library (at Grand Army Plaza), May 2-31. At an awards ceremony for the city-wide and borough-wide winners to be held on May 18th at the Library, the four city-wide and 22 borough-wide winners of the Bookmaking Competition will receive medals.  In addition, the four city-wide winners will receive $500 and the 22 borough-wide winners will receive $100 from the Foundation.

“It is a great joy to celebrate the fine and imaginative work of these talented students. Through the Bookmaking Competition, the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation and the New York City Department of Education have been able to share Ezra’s legacy with generations of youngsters, each of whom has the potential to become an Ezra of the future,” says Deborah Pope, Executive Director of the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation. “We hope that these young writers and illustrators will be encouraged by this award to pursue their dreams just as Ezra did.”   “We are proud of all the students, and their teachers and librarians who understand the instructional value inherent in the creation of picture books,” says Karen Rosner, Coordinator of Visual Arts, New York City Department of Education, and supervisor of the Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking initiative. “The success of each picture book is the result of inspired creativity and of sustained thoughtful work. The exhibition at the Brooklyn Public Library demonstrates to the community the talent that exists in the New York City public schools.”     “What a great exhibit we have in store for our visitors,” says Rachel Payne, Coordinator, Early Childhood Services, Brooklyn Public Library, and one of the judges of the Competition.  “Expect the unexpected—in addition to imaginative storylines, many of the winning books incorporate visual surprises like pop-ups, clever book design and creative collage.”

Ezra Jack Keats Family Festival: A Snowy Day in May

Even if the sun is shining on Saturday, May 12th, it will be a “snowy day” at the Library as families gather to celebrate the art of bookmaking and the legacy of Ezra Jack Keats at the “Snowy Day in May” Family Festival. Named in honor of Keats’ Caldecott Award-winning book The Snowy Day, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, the Family Festival will take place on the Plaza in front of the Library from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM. In the case of rain, this event will be held inside at the Dweck Center.

In addition to balloon sculpture, face painting and more, specific events include:

1:00–2:00 pm—Brooklyn Youth Choir
2:00–3:00 pm—Deborah Pope will read The Snowy Day and winning student books
3:00–4:00 pm—Tales of Snow storytelling
1:00–4:00 pm—Art workshops given by artist Felix Plaza and illustrator Taeeun Yoo
1:00–4:00 pm—Book signing by noted author/illustrator Melanie Hope Greenberg

Manhattan, Bronx and Brooklyn Students Take Home Top Awards

The Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking Competition is divided into three categories: elementary (grades 3-5), middle (grades 6-8) and high school (grades 9-12). This includes elementary, middle and high school winners from District 75. This year, there are two city-wide winners in the high school category.

In the grades 3-5 category, the city-wide winner is:

Detour to 1938, by Shelley Polanco (Grade 4)
School: P.S. 333, The Museum School, Bronx Teacher: Quiara Escobar; Principal: Arthur Brown
The winner said: “My art teacher said that history books don’t have to be boring, so I decided to send the main character in my book (me!) back in the past so readers can meet Martin Luther King in a fun way.  I was inspired by Ezra Jack Keats—he took everyday things and made them exciting!”

In the grades 6-8 category, the city-wide winner is:

Rebirth, New York, by Anne Wang (Grade 7)
School: I.S. 259K, William McKinley, Brooklyn Teacher: Roma Karas; Principal: Janice Geary
The winner said: “I decided to create a book about September 11th, but I didn’t want to focus on the disaster aspect. I decided to be positive and show the rebirth of Ground Zero. The project was extremely challenging—I went through a lot of paper creating the pop-ups, which took a lot of time to make. I had to be certain that everything was just right. I had to make sure that the writing and the illustrations worked well together.”

In the grades 9-12 category, the two city-wide winners are:

Tyler Learns How To Tie His Shoes, by Deidre Darius (Grade 11)
School: LaGuardia High School, Manhattan Teacher: Carlos Nuñez, Principal: Kim Bruno
The winner said: “I thought it would be fun to create an interactive how-to book for kids on tying their shoes. I wanted the book to be fun, but I also wanted it to be helpful. So I put real shoe laces in the back of my book for practice.”

Arrows and the Butterfly, by Dyanara Banana (Grade 12)
School: James Madison High School, Brooklyn Teacher: Diane Kosup; Principal: Joseph A. Gogliormella
The winner said: “I put the ‘Butterfly’—which represents the beauty in our lives—throughout. Our lives don’t last long, and most of the time, we have a hard time finding happiness and appreciating our lives.”

Guidelines and Judging

The annual Bookmaking Competition begins each fall. Public school students are invited to come up with an intriguing theme, create engaging text, and integrate illustrations using a range of media. Expressive writing and artwork are encouraged. The process is integrated into classroom instruction with a strong emphasis on the study of picture books.  Student books are created under the supervision of a teacher and/or librarian. The judging panel, which is comprised of New York-based librarians, artists, and teachers, focuses on the quality of writing, illustrations and presentation. This year’s panel of judges includes:

  • Rachel Payne, Coordinator, Early Childhood Services, Brooklyn Public Library
  • Ronnie Seiden-Moss, Artist, Art Teacher, Coordinator, Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking Competition
  • Melissa Jacobs-Israel, Coordinator, New York City School Library System, Department of Education
  • Barbara Ornstein, former Children’s Specialist, Brooklyn Public Library, Central Branch
  • John Peters, former Supervising Librarian, Children’s Center at 42nd Street, The New York Public Library
  • Felix Plaza, Bibliobus Outreach Associate, Brooklyn Public Library
  • Jo Beth Ravitz, Artist/Art Consultant
  • Christine Scheper, Children’s Materials Specialist, Queens Public Library

About the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation

The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation supports arts and literacy programming in public schools and libraries across the country, with the goal of bringing the joy of reading and learning to all children while highlighting the importance of diversity in children’s books. In addition to the Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking Competition, the Foundation sponsors the Ezra Jack Keats New Writer and New Illustrator Book Awards, and the Ezra Jack Keats Minigrant Program for public schools and public libraries across the nation, among others. For information about the Foundation, please visit