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‘Little Robot’ Receives Gryphon Award

Champaign, IL — Little Robot, written and illustrated by Ben Hatke, and published by First Second Books, is the winner of the 2016 Gryphon Award for Children’s Literature.

The Gryphon Award, which includes a $1,000 prize, is given annually by The Center for Children’s Books (CCB). This year’s committee was chaired by Assistant Professor Deborah Stevenson, CCB director, and Kate Quealy-Gainer, assistant editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books.

The prize is awarded to the author of an outstanding English language work of fiction or nonfiction for which the primary audience is children in kindergarten through fourth grade, and which best exemplifies those qualities that successfully bridge the gap in difficulty between books for reading aloud to children and books for practiced readers. With a core of regular committee members, the award has become a way to contribute to an ongoing conversation about literature for inexperienced readers and to draw attention to the literature that offers, in many different ways, originality, accessibility, and high quality for that audience.

“Hatke’s graphic novel is both cleverly crafted and utterly irresistible,” said Stevenson. “Our young heroine is an admirable adventurer and capable wielder of a tool belt, and the little robot she finds, repairs, and befriends is an endearing pet/sidekick. The balance between wordless sequences and simple speech-balloon dialogue (plus the robot’s sound effects) will reassure tentative readers and encourage them to decode narrative from both visual and textual clues.”

Two Gryphon Honors also were named:

  • Flutter & Hum: Animal Poems/Aleteo y Zumbido: Poemas de Animales (Henry Holt), written and illustrated by Julie Paschkis, is a truly original achievement, adding a new dimension to bilingualism with its accessible, mutually interdependent English and Spanish poems about animals.
  • The Long Dog (Scholastic), written and illustrated by Eric Seltzer, demonstrates how an imaginative creator can energize the classic restricted vocabulary beginning reader, as Seltzer plays on pattern and concept while maintaining a lively narrative rhythm and pulling off a satisfying ongoing joke in this amusing overview of dogs.

The Gryphon Award was established in 2004 as a way to focus attention on transitional reading. “These are some of the most important books children will ever read,” Stevenson said. “We love having the opportunity, as a committee, to draw attention to the many wonderful books available to encourage early readers to move beyond the practical challenge of decoding to the skill of reading for content and for pleasure.”

The award committee consists of members drawn from the youth services faculty of GSLIS, the editorial staff of The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, public and school librarians, and the library and education community at large.

The award is sponsored by the CCB and funded by the CCB’s Gryphon Fund. Income from the fund supports the annual Gryphon Lecture as well as the Gryphon Award for children’s literature.

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