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Winners of the 2020 Ezra Keats Bookmarking Competition Announced

The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, in partnership with the New York City Department of Education, has announced the winners of the 34th annual Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking Competition for grades 3-12. The virtual Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking Competition Celebration and exhibition of the student-made books will be featured on Brooklyn Public Library’s website during the month of May.

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

World War II, by Patrick Szewczyk, (Grade 4, author/illustrator).
PS 63Q, The Old South School, Queens.
Maria Panotopoulou, Visual Arts Teacher, Kathleen Cavanagh-Fleischmann, Librarian and Diane Marino, Principal.

The winner says: “I love history, and wrote about World World II because it’s so sad and we need to remember how badly the children who were taken from their families were treated in concentration camps. This touched my heart because I am a kid, and Polish, and I cannot imagine myself in that situation. I wanted to show other kids that we live a better life and should appreciate what we have.”

The Telephone, by Andre Kulikov (Grade 8, author/illustrator).
IS 98, The Bay Academy for the Arts & Sciences, Brooklyn.
Molly McGrath, Visual Arts Teacher, Marietta Falconieri, Librarian and Maria Timo, Principal.

The winner says: “I have always been drawn to old-fashioned things because of how detailed and intricate they are. This ties in with my fascination around the stories and emotions behind these objects. They hold the energy of their previous owners, as well as that time period. I believe the items can give that energy back, which inspired me to write about it. By making this a children’s book, I was hoping it would make a younger audience appreciate the past.”

GRADES 9-12:
The Comforts of Home, by Nadine Baidan (Grade 11, author/illustrator).
LaGuardia High School, New York City.
Stephanie Mulvihil, Teacher, Yeou-Jey Vasconcelos, Principal.

The winner says: “I came to America from the Philippines when I was four years old, and my book is based on my memories. First, I visualized things I’ve seen in the Philippines—the lush vegetation, the tropical climate, where my house was situated. My favorite page is one with a bread man because when I was little, the ‘real’ bread man would come by every morning and ring the bell. I could smell the bread when I made the page. Winning the EJK Bookmaking Award means I can achieve a lot of things I never thought possible and push to strive for more in the future.”

(L to R): The Telephone by Andre Kulikov (Grade 8, IS 98-The Bay Academy for the Arts & Sciences, Brooklyn, NY), The Comforts of Home by Nadine Baidan (Grade 11, LaGuardia High School, New York, NY) and World War II, by Patrick Szewczyk (Grade 4, PS 63Q-The Old South, Queens, NY).

The EJK Bookmaking Competition Celebration page will include an online catalogue of the winning and honorable mention books, an exhibition of the book covers of school winning books from throughout the five boroughs, statements from each participating institution and a video designed and narrated specifically for this celebration by award-winning children’s book author/illustrator Rowboat Watkins.

There will also be six “visits” to the Virtual EJK Bookmaking Celebration exhibition featuring award winning authors and illustrators: Bryan Collier, Selina Alko, Aram Kim, Carlos Hernandez, Heather Swain and Alan Katz. Students, educators, and guest artists will meet online to discuss the student-made books and the fun in reading, writing and illustrating.

“For the 10th year, Brooklyn Public Library is proud to showcase the innovative books made by our city’s talented young writers and illustrators,” says Kimberly Grad, Coordinator of School Age Services at Brooklyn Public Library. We are thrilled to create a special page on our website to celebrate their achievements, and even arrange for our annual visits from award-winning children’s book authors and illustrators to happen virtually.”

Judging:The Selection Panel, with Kimberly Grad as Chair, 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:

  • Rowboat Watkins, Award-winning children’s book author and illustrator
  • Melissa Jacobs, Director of Library Services, NYC Dept. of Education
  • Elise Fauconier, Children’s Librarian, Queens Public Library
  • Ruth Guerrier-Pierre, Children’s Librarian, New York Public Library, Kips Bay Branch
  • Jo Beth Ravitz, Artist and Art Consultant
  • Luann Toth, Managing Editor, Picture Book Reviews, School Library Journal (retired)
  • Donnette Riker, Senior Children’s Librarian, Brooklyn Public Library
  • Jessica Agudelo, Supervising Librarian, Bronx Library Center, Children’s Department
  • Darcy Tell-Morales, Associate Museum Educator, Education Dept., Metropolitan Museum of Art

About the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation
The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation has actively fostered children’s creativity and love of reading since 1985. The Foundation awards 70 EJK Mini-Grants annually to public schools and libraries, for arts and literacy programs, across 50 states; administers the EJK Bookmaking Competition, grades 3-12, in the nation’s largest school system, for 34 years running; and, with the EJK Award, has, to date, encouraged over 90 exceptional early career authors and illustrators to create children’s books that reflect our diverse culture. In celebration of the 35th Anniversary of the EJK Award, the Foundation is about to launch a year-long public awareness and educational campaign in June 2020.

The EJK Foundation also protects and promotes the work of Ezra Jack Keats, whose book The Snowy Day broke the color barrier in children’s publishing. To learn more about the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, visit their website

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