Hoping you have some very small people in your life who want stories read over and over, I offer suggestions from the recent Ezra Jack Keats Awards for New Writers and Illustrators that will delight the child and will not drive the adult nuts in the 457th reading. To win the award, writers and illustrators must not have not more than three previous published books. If past experience is any sign, this will get you in on the beginning of a promising career for these new writers and illustrators. To help your selection, I’m giving my own brief take on the winners and honor books.
New Writer Awards
• Tea Party Rules is the New Writer Award winner for Amy Dyckman and New Illustrator Honor Award for K. G. Campbell. A bear cub crashes a tea party and poses as a teddy bear because he wants cookies. He even endures the girl’s endless list of rules – for a while. Opportunities for shared giggles abound.
• Sophie’s Squash, Writer Honor Book by Pat Zietlow Miller, follows the imaginative Sophie who turns the squash she chooses at the farmer’s market into a delightful companion. Those who have made room at the table for a figment of a child’s imagination will understand and relate. An extra in the book is the ending opportunity for a bit of an enjoyable science lesson.
• I Love You, Nose, Writer Honor Book written and illustrated by Linda Davick, is perfect for the very youngest who are learning the names of their body parts. Laced with humor and featuring children of all races, the book joyfully celebrates the wonder of being and begs for participation by the small listener.
New Illustrator Awards
• Rain!, written by Linda Ashman, is the New Illustrator Award winner for Christian Robinson. In a nod to perspective, the book contrasts the difference in the reaction to the rain of a small boy and an old man. Christian’s bright colors and comical facial expressions will entertain both the child and the adult reader.
• Take Me Out to the Yakyu, Illustrator Honor Book both written and illustrated by Aaroon Meshon, takes a young boy in side by side progression out to the ball game with his American and Japanese grandfathers. Baseball and other fun words in both English and Japanese and baseball information for both countries add a bonus in the back matter.
• My Grandpa, Illustrator Honor Book written and illustrated by Marta Altes, uses Grandpa Bear and Little Bear to explore the relationship between old and young, including the small bear's adjustment to his grandpa’s losses in the aging process.
In the best of all worlds, you have some little people in your life who would love it if you bought a few of these books to read to them. In the second best option, maybe there’s a day care, preschool, or church library that would welcome your gift of a few books for their children.