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Winners of 30th Annual Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking Competition Announced By Ezra Jack Keats Foundation and New York City Department of Education

City-wide Winners Receive $500 Cash Prize; Winning Books and Honorable Mentions on Special Exhibit May 2-27 at Brooklyn Public Library

The city-wide winners of the 30th annual Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking Competition
The city-wide winners of the 30th annual Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking Competition

NEW YORK—April 28, 2016—The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, in partnership with the New York City Department of Education, announced today the winners of the 30th annual Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking Competition for grades 3-12. City-wide and borough winning books, honorable mentions and all school-wide winning books will be on exhibit at Brooklyn Public Library Central Library (at Grand Army Plaza), May 2–27.

At the awards ceremony to be held on May 20th at Brooklyn Public Library, the city-wide and borough winners and honorable mention recipients of the Bookmaking Competition will be given medals. In addition, the Foundation will give the city-wide winners $500 and the borough winners $100.

And this year, in honor of the late author-illustrator Ezra Jack Keats’s 100th birthday, each of the educators who assisted city-wide and borough winners will also receive an award—a gift certificate that will allow them to choose 25 children’s books (picture, middle school or young adult) contributed by Keats’ publisher, Penguin Random House.

“These talented young writers and illustrators have worked hard over many weeks, even months, to bring their imaginative ideas to life through their books,” says Deborah Pope, Executive Director of the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation. “It was at public school that Ezra first received recognition for his talent, which encouraged him to pursue his dreams. Our hope is that this award will inspire these young people to pursue their dreams as well.”

“Our students’ creativity, thoughtful work, and perseverance are demonstrated in these outstanding picture books. Each book is evidence of the exemplary teaching and learning that occurs daily in our public schools,” says Karen Rosner, Coordinator of Visual Arts for the New York City Department of Education, and supervisor of the Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking initiative. “The exhibition of the winning books at Brooklyn Public Library truly reflects our richly diverse student population and the talent of our public school students.”

“We are proud to exhibit the books made by some of New York’s most talented young people,” says Rachel Payne, Coordinator, Early Childhood Services, Brooklyn Public Library, and one of the judges of the Competition. “Books are our business, and highlighting the outstanding work of future authors and illustrators is as fulfilling a job as we at the BPL can have.”

Brooklyn and Queens Students Take Home Top Awards

The Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking Competition is divided into three categories: elementary (grades 3-5), middle school (grades 6-8) and high school (grades 9-12). Students in District 75 are encouraged to participate, and several are among our winners.

The city-wide winners are:

Grades 3-5:

Some Skyscrapers Are…, written and illustrated by Roberto Quesada (Grade 5)

P.S. 63, Old South School, Ozone Park, Queens

Maria Panotopoulou, Teacher; Kathleen Fleischmann-Cavanaugh, Librarian; Diane Marino, Principal

The winner says:  “I‘ve always loved skyscrapers, so I decided to create a book about them. I decided to give them emotions, so I drew one with a sad face because he was getting demolished and another with a happy face because he was under construction. My favorite page shows old and new skyscrapers together and how they both affect the skyline. I drew in colored pencils, and then my teacher suggested I also try collage. It was hard to do, but worth it! I’m thinking about working on a sequel about my new interest, oceans and ships!”

Grades 6-8:

A-Z Inventions Through History, written and illustrated by Sarah Cheung (Grade 8)

I.S. 141, The Steinway School, Astoria, Queens

Elisa Barresi and Victoria Iocco,Teachers; Miranda Pavlou, Principal

The winner says: “I’ve always been curious about how things came to be, so I decided to write a book about inventions. Coming up with this idea was easier than all the online research it took to choose and write about each invention. Constructing the book and integrating the pop-ups (to appeal to kids) required imagination and the ability to think outside the box. I never thought I’d win, but it shows that the patience, creativity and persistence it takes to express an idea through writing and illustration is worth it—as long as you enjoy what you’re doing!”

Grades 9-12:

My Life as a Dandelion, written and illustrated by Crystal Ng (Grade 10)

Brooklyn Technical High School, Fort Greene, Brooklyn

Monica Rowley, Teacher; Randy Asher, Principal

The winner says: “When we think of dandelions, we usually think of someone blowing the seeds away. To me, this is symbolic of freedom, and I wanted to write a book about that. I made the book small because it’s something fun for kids to carry around. I used construction paper, pens, colored markers and pencils, and put a cotton ball in the middle of the dandelion on the cover. There are three pages where you can see the dandelion seeds being blown away, little by little. It shows Michelle, the protagonist, is slowly letting go of her loved ones, and is my favorite part of the book.”

Guidelines and Judging

The annual Bookmaking Competition begins with a full day of professional development at the Metropolitan Museum of Art for art teachers and librarians working in New York City’s public schools. Students are then invited to come up with intriguing themes, create engaging text and integrate illustrations created in a range of media. Expressive writing and artwork are encouraged.

The process is integrated into classroom instruction with a strong emphasis on the study of picture books. Student books are created under the supervision of a teacher and/or librarian.

The judging panel is comprised of New York-based librarians, artists, teachers and others involved in promoting diversity in children’s literature. The panel focuses on the quality of writing, illustrations and presentation. This year’s panel of judges includes:

  • Elizabeth Naylor Gutierrez, Coordinator, Office of Library Services, NYC Department of Education
  • Barbara Ornstein, former Children’s Specialist, Central Library, Brooklyn Public Library
  • Rachel Payne, ex officio, Coordinator, Early Childhood Services, Brooklyn Public Library
  • Jo Beth Ravitz, Artist/Art Consultant
  • Susan Straub, Founder, The Read to Me Program

Fourth Annual Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking Competition on the West Coast

The Contemporary Jewish Museum (CJM), Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, San Francisco Public Library (SFPL) and San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) joined together to present the fourth annual Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking Competition on the West Coast. The entries were on display at The CJM on March 13, 2016; the awards ceremony followed. The winning books can be seen at the SFPL Main Library through May 8.

First Annual Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking Competition in Baltimore

The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation partnered with Enoch Pratt Library, The Reginald F. Lewis Museum, Jump In Studio, Inc., and Baltimore City Public Schools to host Baltimore City’s first Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking Competition. The awards ceremony will be held at The Reginald F. Lewis Museum on May 14, 2016, during its annual African American Children’s Book Festival. School-wide winning entries will be on display at The Enoch Pratt Library May 16–June 6. For more information on this exhibition, contact info[@]shadrastrickland.com

About the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation

Founded by Ezra Jack Keats, the late Caldecott award-winning children’s book author and illustrator, the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation fosters children’s love of reading and creative expression by supporting arts and literacy programs in public schools and libraries; cultivating new writers and illustrators of exceptional picture books that reflect the experiences of childhood in our diverse culture; and protecting and promoting the work of Keats, whose book The Snowy Day broke the color barrier in mainstream children’s publishing. Keats. Imagination. Diversity.

For more information about the Foundation, please visit www.ezra-jack-keats.org.


Sheree Wichard



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