Home > Blog > Winners of 2019 Ezra Jack…

Winners of 2019 Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking Competition Announced By Ezra Jack Keats Foundation and New York City Department of Education

NEW YORK—The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, in partnership with the New York City Department of Education, has announced the winners of the 33rd annual Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking Competition for grades 3-12. The winning books and honorable mentions were on exhibit in the Youth Wing at Brooklyn Public Library’s Central Branch (at Grand Army Plaza), from May 1-20.

At the award ceremony held on Friday, May 17 at the Central Branch of Brooklyn Public Library, the City and Borough winners and Honorable Mention recipients were given medals. In addition, the City winners received $500, and the Borough winners, $100. Each team of educators who assisted the winners received a Certificate and a collection of children’s books contributed by Penguin Random House, the publisher of the books of Ezra Jack Keats.

“Imaginative young writers and illustrators from public schools in each borough have spent months creating and polishing these stunning books,” says Deborah Pope, Executive Director of the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation. “It was in public school that Ezra first received recognition for his talent, inspiring him to pursue his dreams. We are proud to support today’s public schools, to help inspire the Ezra Jack Keats’s of tomorrow.”

“Our students’ creativity, thoughtful work, and dedication are demonstrated in these wonderful 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 program. “The exhibition of the winning books at Brooklyn Public Library represents our richly diverse student body and the talent of our public school students, and their art teachers, classroom teachers, and librarians.”

“For the eighth year, Brooklyn Public Library is proud to showcase the beautifully innovative books made by our city’s talented young writers and illustrators,” says Kimberly Grad, Coordinator of School Age Services at Brooklyn Public Library and one of the judges of the Competition. “The students who participated in this year’s EJK Bookmaking Competition truly embody the spirit of Ezra Jack Keats, who inspired so many readers and writers with his groundbreaking work.”

For a peek inside the winning books, the catalogue, and a list of all the winners and honorable mentions, visit www.ezra-jack-keats.org/h/2019-bookmaking-winners/.

Brooklyn and Queens Students Take Home Top Awards

The Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking Competition is divided into three levels: Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8 and Grades 9-12.

City Winners

Grades 3-5:

9/11: The Day that Changed the World Forever, by Dasha Villalba & Mariana Ramos (Grade 5)

PS 63Q, The Old South School, Queens

Maria Panotopoulou, Visual Arts Teacher, Kathleen Cavanagh-Fleischmann, Librarian and Diane Marino, Principal

The winners say:

Dasha: “The inspiration for our book came from a painted wall at school about 9/11 that reminded us of the braveness and sadness of the day. Our book shows that though we are all different, when there is a tragic event, we all love each other.”

Mariana: “The words came first, then we used newspaper, paint, glue, scrap paper, recycled paper, glitter, stickers and smashed up buttons for the illustrations. We didn’t expect to win the award—there were so many other people competing. Our goal was to just put time and creativity into our book and finish! So we are excited!”

Grades 6-8:

Clutter, by Sofia Kudelina (Grade 8)

IS 98, The Bay Academy for the Arts & Sciences, Brooklyn

Meredith Samuelson, Visual Arts Teacher, Marietta Falconieri, Librarian and Maria Timo, Principal

The winner says: “I thought that it was important to show that letting go of one’s ‘clutter’ can be beneficial to finding purpose in life. This book was a perfect opportunity for exploration, and winning the award serves as a milestone that I’ve grown as an artist. I came to America, and I will use the prize money to visit my grandmother in Russia.”

Grades 9-12:

A Magical Place, by Annie Li (Grade 10)

Brooklyn Technical High School, Brooklyn

Monica Rowley, Teacher; David Newman, Principal

The winner says: “The story came first—a grandma (my grandma, really) explains to a boy about a magical place he can go to in his dreams. The first five pages describe a horrible place where he has to go to get to this amazing place, where I introduce the magical world, a beautiful place filled with happiness and love, where magic is real and hope is everywhere. Winning the award makes me feel like I can do something and has pushed me to draw more.”


The Selection Panel is composed of librarians, artists, teachers and others involved in promoting diversity in children’s literature. They focus on the quality of writing, illustrations and presentation. This year’s panel included:

  • Aram Kim, Award-winning children’s book author and illustrator
  • Kimberly Grad, Coordinator of School Age Services, Brooklyn Public Library
  • Debra Randorf, NYC Dept. of Education, Library Operations & Instructional Coordinator, North Brooklyn
  • Yesha Naik, Senior Children’s Librarian, Brooklyn Public Library
  • Ruth Guerrier-Pierre, Children’s Librarian, NYPL Kips Bay Branch
  • Jo Beth Ravitz, Artist and Art Consultant
  • Luann Toth, Managing Editor, Picture Book Reviews, School Library Journal
  • Mark Tuchman, Art Director, School Library Journal
  • Jessica Agudelo, Children’s Librarian, NYPL St. Agnes Branch

Check out these wonderful photos from the ceremony that took place on May 17th!

Collaborating Team (L to R) Karen Rosner, Visual Arts Coordinator, NYC Dept. of Education; Linda E. Johnson, President and CEO, Brooklyn Public Library; Kimberly Grad, Coordinator School Age Services, Brooklyn Public Library; Deborah Pope, Executive Director, Ezra Jack Keats Foundation; Melissa Jacobs, Director, Office of Library Services, NYC Dept. of Education (Photo Credit: Gregg Richards)0
EJK Bookmaking Students (Photo Credit: Gregg Richards)
City Winner (Grades 6-8), Sophia Kudelina (Photo Credit: EJK Foundation)
Honorable Mentions (Grades 3-5) (L to R) Veronica Arvelo, Rio Yoo (Photo credit: Gregg Richards)
City Winners (Grades 3-5), (L to R) Deborah Pope Executive Director, Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, Dasha Villalba, Mariana Ramos, Karen Rosner,Visual Arts Coordinator, NYC Dept. of Education (Photo Credit: Gregg Richards)
City Winner (Grades 9-12) Annie Li  (Photo Credit: EJK Foundation)
Deborah Pope, Executive Director, Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, hands award to student winner(Photo credit: Gregg Richards)
Deborah Pope, Executive Director, Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, two student winners, Aram Kim (author/illustrator) (Photo Credit: Gregg Richards)
Borough winner (Grades 6-8), Laetitia Mombelli, (Photo Credit: EJK Foundation)

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. Recently, The Snowy Day was adapted by Amazon as a holiday special, which earned two Daytime Emmys®, including Outstanding Preschool Children’s Animated Program; and is the theme of a set of Forever stamps issued by the United States Postal Service. To learn more about the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, visit www.ezra-jack-keats.org.  Keats. Imagination. Diversity.

Back to Top