Winners of 2017 Annual Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking Competition
Announced by Ezra Jack Keats Foundation and New York City Department of Education
City-wide Winners Receive $500 Cash Prize; Winning Books and Honorable Mentions
On Special Exhibit May 2–26 at Brooklyn Public Library
The Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking Competition Expands into Four Cities
The city-wide winners of the 2017 Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking Competition are: (Clockwise from left) The Story of the Mirabal Sisters, by Amber Siurano (grade 4, P.S. 63 Old South School, Queens); Life of a Brighton Beach Sparrow, by Elizabeth Abramowitz (grade 6, I.S. 98 Bay Academy, Brooklyn); He Abandoned Us, by Jennifer Huang (grade 12, Stuyvesant High School, Manhattan). The winning books and honorable mentions are on display at Brooklyn Public Library’s Central Library, May 2–26.
NEW YORK—May 2, 2017—The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, in partnership with the New York City Department of Education, announced today the winners of the 31st annual Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking Competition for grades 3-12. The winning books and honorable mentions are on exhibit at Brooklyn Public Library’s Central Library (at Grand Army Plaza), May 2–26.
At the awards ceremony, to be held on May 19 at Brooklyn Public Library, the city-wide and borough winners and honorable mention recipients will be given medals. In addition, the city-wide winners will receive $500, and the borough winners, $100. Each team of educators who assisted the winners will also receive an award—a gift certificate for their choice of 15 children’s books contributed by Keats’ publisher, Penguin Random House.
“Some of the city’s most talented young writers and illustrators have worked hard to bring their creative ideas to life through the making of a book,” says Deborah Pope, Executive Director of the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation. “It was at public school that Ezra first received recognition for his talent, inspiring him to pursue his dreams. Our hope is that this award will inspire these young people as well.”
“Our students’ creativity, thoughtful work and perseverance are demonstrated in these outstanding picture books. Each book is evidence of the exemplary teaching and learning that occurs daily in our public schools,” says Karen Rosner, Coordinator of Visual Arts for the New York City Department of Education, and supervisor of the Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking initiative. “The exhibition of the winning books at Brooklyn Public Library truly reflects our richly diverse student population and the talent of our public school students.”
“Brooklyn Public Library is proud to showcase the beautifully innovative books made by our city’s talented young writers and illustrators,” says Kimberly Grad, Coordinator of School Age Services at Brooklyn Public Library and one of the judges of the Competition. “The students who participated in this year’s competition truly embody the spirit of Ezra Jack Keats, who inspired so many readers and writers with his groundbreaking work.”
Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan Students Take Home Top Awards
The Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking Competition is divided into three categories: elementary (grades 3-5), middle school (grades 6-8) and high school (grades 9-12). Students in District 75 are encouraged to participate, and several are among our winners.
The Story of the Mirabal Sisters, by Amber Siurano (Grade 4)
P.S. 63, Old South School, Ozone Park, Queens
Maria Panotopoulou, Teacher; Kathleen Fleischmann-Cavanaugh, Librarian; Diane Marino, Principal
The winner says: “History is my passion, and I decided to write about the inspiring Mirabal sisters. Like my great-grandfather, the three sisters stood up and fought against the Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic. I chose not to add facial features to the sisters; I felt they could represent anyone who acted as they did. I did not draw mouths on the people’s faces, only eyes, because at the time people could only observe and not speak against the cruelty of Trujillo.”
Life of a Brighton Beach Sparrow, by Elizabeth Abramowitz (Grade 6)
I.S. 98 Bay Academy, Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn
Meredith Samuelson, Teacher; Maria Timo, Principal
The winner says: “My inspiration came from watching the sparrows in my neighborhood, Brighton Beach. I’ve always been fond of these cheerful birds and enjoyed making sketches of them, so I decided to write about Brighton Beach as seen through the eyes of a sparrow named Wings.”
He Abandoned Us, by Jennifer Huang (Grade 12)
Stuyvesant High School, Manhattan
Leslie Bernstein, Teacher; Eric Contreras, Principal
The winner says: “The seven sins and God have always been topics of interest to me. I wanted to prove that our favorite characters—heroes and heroines, along with villains—were not without faults, that they had their own flaws. The hardest part after deciding what I wanted to do was choosing which character would depict which sin.”
The judging panel is composed of librarians, artists, teachers and others involved in promoting diversity in children’s literature. They focus on the quality of writing, illustrations and presentation. This year’s panel included Guest Artist Sean Qualls, award-winning children’s book author and illustrator, and:
- Kimberly Grad, Coordinator of School Age Services, Brooklyn Public Library
- Melissa Jacobs, Coordinator of Library Services, New York City Department of Education
- Jeanne Lamb, Former Coordinator of Youth Materials Selection, New York Public Library/Book Ops
- Yesha Naik, Children’s Librarian, Brooklyn Public Library
- Barbara Ornstein, former Children’s Specialist, Central Library, Brooklyn Public Library
- Jo Beth Ravitz, Artist/Art Consultant
- Mark Tuchman, Art Director, School Library Journal
- Phoebe Yeh, VP/Publisher, Crown Books for Young Readers
The Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking Competition Expands into Four Cities
In addition to New York City, where the program is in its 31st year, Atlanta is the latest city to launch an Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking Competition. The inaugural awards ceremony took place on March 4 at the Auburn Avenue Research Library, where the books were on display through April 4. San Francisco hosted its fifth annual competition, with awards given on April 9 at the Contemporary Jewish Museum, which spearheaded the award-winning initiative. Baltimore’s second annual Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking Awards ceremony will be held at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum on May 6, during the African American Children’s Book Festival.
About the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation
Founded by Ezra Jack Keats, the late Caldecott award-winning children’s book author and illustrator, the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation fosters children’s love of reading and creative expression by supporting arts and literacy programs in public schools and libraries; cultivating new writers and illustrators of exceptional picture books that reflect the experiences of childhood in our diverse culture; and protecting and promoting the work of Keats, whose book The Snowy Day broke the color barrier in mainstream children’s publishing. Keats. Imagination. Diversity.
For more information about the Foundation, please visit www.ezra-jack-keats.org.