I’m excited to announce the 2010 winner of the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award:
Button Up by Alice Schertle (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009) illustrated by Petra Mathers
This picture book collection contains 15 “mask” poems told from the point of view of children’s clothing, from shoelaces to T-shirts to galoshes. Each clever poem references a child’s name, like “Jack’s soccer jersey” giving it added personality. Pithy watercolor illustrations by Petra Mathers depict each “child” as a different animal adding humor and whimsy to each poem’s double-page spread. Schertle is a poet’s poet, crafting poems in a variety of forms (quatrains, tercets, and more) with distinctive rhythms and musical rhymes. Getting dressed (in the morning, in the rain, in the winter, for a game, or at play) is a BIG DEAL to the young child and these lyrical poems tap into that experience—with all the sensory qualities and emotional resonance that a young child experiences. Kids will love reading them out loud, pantomiming the motions, and creating clothes + poems displays.
This is Alice Schertle’s first LBH award and it is long overdue! Her work is consistently wonderful and I’ve blogged about it in the past (April 7, 2007 includes a “birthday” profile of Schertle). Congratulations, Alice!
Three honor books were also chosen (listed in alphabetical order):
A Curious Collection of Cats by Betsy Franco (Tricycle Press, 2009) illustrated by Michael Wertz
*This gorgeous collection of concrete poetry has spot-on perfect, popsicle-colored illustrations in graphic cat portraits, perfectly paired with poems that capture cat moments, cat quirks, and kitty cat personalities. The shape and rhythm of Franco’s feline-focused poems are varied and engaging, equally fun for visualizing or reading aloud—quite an achievement.
Crossing Stones by Helen Frost (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2009)
*Frost has outdone herself with this richly textured historical novel in verse set during World War I and blending the voices of 4 main characters (2 boys, 2 girls) struggling with issues of patriotism/pacifism and feminism and family roles in poems built “stone” by “stone” in Frost’s own variation of “cupped-hand sonnets.” [Look for more about Frost and her work in the next issue of Book Links!]
The Tree that Time Built; A Celebration of Nature, Science, and Imagination selected by Mary Ann Hoberman and Linda Winston (Sourcebooks, 2009)
*Hoberman and Winston remind us of what a great anthology can do—by gathering poems around a distinctive theme, breathing new life into classics, commissioning new original gems, and providing an infrastructure of helpful notes and resources that tie it all together. Who knew poets and scientists had so much in common? (And there’s a terrific CD with audio tracks of 44 poems and notes read by the poets themselves.)
For more information about the award, initiated by Lee Bennett Hopkins himself in 1993, and currently sponsored by the Pennsylvania Center for the Book at Pennsylvania State University, look here. From the Web site: The Lee Bennett Hopkins Award 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. Since its inception in 1993, the winning poet or anthologist has received a handsome plaque and a $500 honorarium made possible by Mr. Hopkins. In 2008, the honorarium was raised to $1000. The award will be presented in Pennsylvania on Friday, April 16.
I was fortunate enough to serve on this year’s committee and would like to thank my fellow judges for their hard work and thoughtful discussions, Rebecca Kai Dotlich, Janice Dysart, and Carol Sibley. Thanks also go to the terrific crew in Pennsylvania who guided us and coordinated this effort, including Dustin Brackbill, Steven Herb, Karla Schmidt, and Caroline Wermuth.
Congratulations to these poets—and thanks to every poet for a bumper crop of terrific poetry to read, discuss, and enjoy this year!
Posting (not poem) by Sylvia M. Vardell © 2010. All rights reserved.
Image credit: kissthebook.blogspot.com; rosemoo.blogspot.com; us.macmillan.com; maryannhoberman.com