Friday, January 25, 2008

2008 Lee Bennett Hopkins Award for Children’s Poetry

Yesterday, Penn State University announced the 2008 recipients of the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award.

Drum roll…

Birmingham, 1963 by Carole Boston Weatherford (Wordsong/Boyds Mills Press)

Blue Lipstick: Concrete Poems by John Grandits (Clarion Books)
This Is Just To Say; Poems Of Apology And Forgiveness by Joyce Sidman (Hougton Mifflin)

Congratulations all around!
I loved Carole’s true story poem Dear Mr. Rosenwald last year and now she takes a turn to focus spare free verse poetry on the tragic deaths of four young girls in the bombing of the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama 45 years ago. Against a graphic background of black and white photographs, this poetic tribute is eloquent and

And what diversity in the honor books, too. I like Blue Lipstick for it's fun experimentation with form and it's angry and angst-filled girl's voice. It has been hugely popular with kids and helps break down boundaries about what poetry "should" look like for young people.

Joyce Sidman’s latest, This Is Just To Say, is a collection of poems of apology and forgiveness in the voices of a classroom of children. It’s funny, poignant, and true, with Sidman’s trademark gift for the craft of poetry in an amazing variety of poetic forms.

The Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award was established in 1993 and is presented annually to an American poet or anthologist for the most outstanding new book of children's poetry published in the previous calendar year. The award is made possible by a gift from Lee Bennett Hopkins himself and is administered by Pennsylvania State University College of Education and the Pennsylvania State University Libraries. Since its inception, the winning poet or anthologist has received a handsome plaque and now a $1000 honorarium made possible by Mr. Hopkins, himself a poet and anthologist.

Based on the award web site, the terms of the award specify that the award shall be granted annually to an anthology of poetry or a single volume poem published for children in the previous calendar year (as per copyright) by a living American poet or anthologist. Their criteria specify that “good poetry is imaginative. It deals with emotion and has significance beyond the act of creation. It uses figurative language, yet is compact in thought and expression. Good poetry has an element of beauty and truth which appears unstable outside of the poem. The book which wins the Lee Bennett Hopkins Award for Children's Poetry must be accessible to children and its presentation must serve the poem or poems in an attractive and appropriate manner.” In recent years, the committee has also cited several honor books each year.

Previous Lee Bennett Hopkins Award Recipients
2006 Jazz by Walter Dean Myers, illustrated by Christopher Myers (Holiday House)
2005 Song of the Water Boatman and Other Pond Poems by Joyce Sidman (Houghton Mifflin)
2004 Here in Harlem by Walter Dean Myers (Holiday House)
2003 The Wishing Bone and Other Poems by Stephen Mitchell (Candlewick)
2002 Splash! Poems of our Watery World by Constance Levy (Orchard)
2001 Pieces: A Year in Poems and Quilts by Anna Grossnickle Hines (Greenwillow)
2000 Light-Gathering Poems by Liz Rosenberg (Henry Holt)
1999 What Have You Lost? by Naomi Shihab Nye (Greenwillow)
1998 The Other Side by Angela Johnson (Orchard)
1997 The Great Frog Race by Kristine O’Connell George (Clarion)
1996 Voices from the Wild by David Bouchard (Chronicle)
1995 Dance with Me by Barbara Esbensen (HarperCollins)
1994 Beast Feast by Douglas Florian (Harcourt)
1993 Spirit Walker by Nancy Wood (Doubleday)
1992 Sing to the Sun by Ashley Bryan (HarperCollins)

FYI: Hopkins also established the Lee Bennett Hopkins Promising Poet Award, presented every three years by the International Reading Association to a new poet with two or fewer poetry books published.

The Poetry Friday Roundup is at Mentor Texts, Read Alouds & More.

Picture credit:

Monday, January 14, 2008

ALA Awards for 2008

Did you see the announcement of the ALA awards for children’s and YA literature? Poetry was all over the place! I was fortunate enough to attend the announcement press conference as part of the first ever Odyssey Award committee for best audiobook of the year and I kept nudging my friend next to me, saying, “That’s poetry.” “That one’s poetry.” “That’s poetry, too.” It was so exciting. Top of the list? The NEWBERY award! Congratulations to Laura Amy Schlitz for Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village (Candlewick), a truly amazing work of history, poetry, drama, and detail. You may remember that our prescient Cybils poetry committee chose it for our short list of the best poetry of the year, too!

But wait, there was more!
One of the Printz honor books for YA literature is a powerful work of poetry, Your Own, Sylvia: A Verse Portrait of Sylvia Plath by Stephanie Hemphill (Knopf, an imprint of Random House). Way to go, Stephanie! This book also is rich in history and biography, but offers poems echoing the style of Plath, about Plath herself. (It’s also on the Cybils short list of best poetry of the year!)

One of the Coretta Scott King author honor books is also a work of poetry: Twelve Rounds to Glory The Story of Muhammad Ali written by Charles R. Smith Jr., illustrated by Bryan Collier (Candlewick). More history, more biography, more poetry—this one is a shout-out read aloud with dynamic images in words and art.

Margarita Engle, author of The Poet Slave of Cuba: A Biography of Juan Francisco Manzano, illustrated by Sean Qualls (Holt) is the 2008 Pura Belpré Author Award recipient honoring Latino authors and illustrators whose work best portrays, affirms and celebrates the Latino cultural experience in children's books. This is a complex and gritty poetry-story of the life of nineteenth-century Cuban slave Juan Francisco Manzano from multiple points of view.

The Schneider Family Award for books that embody the artistic expression of the disability experience went to a work of poetry: Reaching for Sun by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer (Bloomsbury). It is the winner in the middle grades category (age 11-13) and is a gentle novel-in-verse about a young girl growing up with a lively spirit and cerebral palsy, too. Congratulations, Tracie! (I mentioned this gem previously in my entry on April 5, 2007.)

Finally, I’m thrilled to say that our very own Odyssey Award for excellence in audiobook production was also awarded to a work of poetry: Walter Dean Myers's Jazz (produced by Live Oak Media). Dual narrators read, say, and sing these poems with verve and vitality against a backdrop of original jazz music. In addition, Walter Dean Myers will deliver the 2009 May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture, as an “individual of distinction in the field of children's literature.” (I’ve also blogged about Jazz several times since it also received the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award [See Feb. 21, 2007] and when Jazz received a CSK illustrator honor citation for son Christopher Myer’s vibrant illustrations [See Jan. 24, 2007].)

I’m happy to say that ALL of these books appeared on my own lists of the best poetry of 2007 (see Dec. 31, 2007) or 2006 (see Dec. 29, 2006). How wonderful to see these rich and engaging works of poetry get the recognition they deserve. Now I hope they will also find their way into the hands of many young readers!

This week's Poetry Friday Roundup is at Becky's Farm School.
Picture credit: