Monday, February 08, 2010

LBH Award Announced

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!]

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:;;;


Anonymous said...

I'm so excited for Alice
Schertle, BUTTON UP!, and all
the honor book winners! Thank you for a great post Sylvia. It was such an honor to be on the LBH committee through Penn State and The Center for the Book with all of you. And thank you of course to
Lee Bennett Hopkins, for making this all possible. A great send off into the world for great poetry books!

JoAnn Early Macken said...

Oh, hooray! Such wonderful books! Thanks for spreading the word!

Anonymous said...

This is so wonderful.
Thank you, Lee...Penn State people... Judges!
Congratulations, Alice, Betsy, Mary Ann.
And everyone be sure to go back and look at Sylvia's list of Poetry 2009 books. It was a great year for children's poetry. I don't know how the judges were able to narrow it down to these four books.

Helen Frost

Jeannine Atkins said...

Thanks to all of you for your efforts in making February so much lovelier with these honored poems!

Anonymous said...

Needless to say, "My, happy!" And be it known I have NOTHING to do
with selections. It's all up to a
wondrous committee to select the Award and Honor Books.

April Halprin Wayland said...

Yay, yay, YAY for Alice and all the others! SOOOO long overdue for wonderful Alice!

April ~ six children's authors who also teach writing

Anonymous said...

I could not be more thrilled about this selection. BUTTON UP! has been one of my favorites from the first time I read it (or actually, I *heard* many of the poems read!). I love that it is a new YOUNG book, excellently done, that will whet the appetites of a whole new generation of poetry lovers. Alice could not be more deserving of this honor. So happy for her!

laurasalas said...

Button Up is terrific! Love these books--except I haven't read Crossing Stones yet. Must get to it!

Stella said...

Wonderful news! Hurray for Button Up!

Playing by the book said...

All of these books sound great! It must have been a lot of fun to be on the selection panal


What a wonderful collection of books. Medal-worthy-all. Thank you to the poets who continue to bring Rhythmic, Rich, and Rollicking Words to Life!

-Pamela Ross

Sylvia Vardell said...

Thank you all for stopping by and adding your congratulations and good wishes-- for Alice and ALL the poets. It's so lovely to have this recognition dedicated especially to poetry for children.

Elaine Magliaro said...


I'm so happy for Alice. She writes such wonderful poetry. I loved her mask poems in BUTTON UP! I know it's a poetry book that young kids will enjoy.

Elaine Magliaro said...


I was thrilled to see that THE TREE THAT TIME BUILT was an honor book. What a fantastic anthology!

Unknown said...

Thank you, thank you, Sylvia, for the wonderful post, and thanks to all for this splendid award. I'm still stunned; am told there is what appears to be a permanent silly grin on my face. I'm so grateful to Lee who makes so much possible in the world of poetry for children.
Congratulations to Betsy, Helen, Mary Ann and Linda. What sublime company!

Marinela said...

Thanks for spreading the word Sylvia!

Stephanie said...

Thanks so much for this post. I have not read Button up! and am now looking forward to it! :-)

Sylvia Vardell said...

Congratulations again, Alice-- and thank you for stopping by. This award is so well deserved and long overdue (I've always adored HOW NOW BROWN COW)! I hope this helps you sell more poetry books-- I want more Schertle! :-)