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Children’s Book Committee 2016 Award Winners!

February 8, 2016

The Bank Street Children’s Book Committee is delighted to announce the 2016 Children’s Book Awards.

The Josette Frank Award honors a book or books of outstanding literary merit in which children or young people deal in a positive and realistic way with difficulties in their world and grow emotionally and morally. The 2016 Josette Frank Award goes to:

The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley (Dial Books for Young Readers)


Set before the outbreak of WWII London, nine-year old Ada with a club foot is prohibited from leaving her family’s home by a mother ashamed of her disability. When her younger brother is evacuated to escape the upcoming blitz, Ada seizes her chance and escapes with him. Ada flourishes in the care of her guardian, Susan Smith, and learns to trust for the first time.

The Claudia Lewis Award is given for the best poetry book of the year for young readers. The 2016 Claudia Lewis Award goes to:

My Seneca Village by Marilyn Nelson (Namelos)


The little-known story of the settlement that preceded Central Park, the author recreates Seneca Village, a path-breaking 19th-century Manhattan community that included an assemblage of African-American property owners living alongside Irish and German immigrants. In a series of poems, Nelson constructs the lives of more than 30 characters based on names found in census records.

The Flora Stieglitz Straus Award is given for an information book that serves as an inspiration to young readers. The 2016 Flora Stieglitz Straus Award goes to:

Voice of Freedom, Fannie Lou Hamer: Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Ekua Holmes (Candlewick Press)


Stirring poems and stunning collage illustrations combine to celebrate the life of Fannie Lou Hamer, a champion of equal voting rights.

The Children’s Book Awards will be celebrated at Bank Street College on Thursday, March 10th, 2016. Join us for the celebration.

Congratulations to all of the winners!

Announcing the 2016 Cook Prize Finalists!

February 2, 2016

The Cook Prize honors the best science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) picture book published for children aged eight to ten. It is the only national children’s choice award honoring a STEM book. We are delighted to announce the 2016 finalists for The Cook Prize!

This year, three books were chosen as finalists:


Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine
by Laurie Wallmark
illustrated by April Chu
(Creston Books, 2015)


High Tide for Horseshoe Crabs
by Lisa Kahn Schnell
illustrated by Alan Marks
(Charlesbridge, 2015)


Mesmerized: How Ben Franklin Solved a Mystery that Baffled All of France
by Mara Rockliff
illustrated by Iacopo Bruno
(Candlewick, 2015)

The Cook Prize finalists are selected by a jury made up of science and math faculty from the Graduate School of Education, teachers from the School for Children and distinguished alumni.


The 2016 jury included: (left to right) Barbara Dubitsky, graduate math faculty; Lila Mortimer, 7/8s head teacher, School for Children; Morika Tsujimura, Upper School math/science teacher, School for Children; Jamie Wallace, American Museum of Natural History; Natalie Tahsler, American Museum of Natural History; and Ann-Louise Ennis, Lower School math coordinator, Berkeley Carroll School.

Throughout the United States and abroad, third and fourth grade children will cast the final vote. Register your class, library or school to help choose to outstanding STEM picture book of the year!

Results will be announced at the end of April.

Congratulations again to the finalists!




Children’s Book Committee – February Pick

February 1, 2016


by Edwidge Danticat
(Scholastic, 2015)

After a terrible automobile accident, 16-year-old Giselle wakes up unable to communicate or ask about the fate of her parents or her identical twin.

Our Young Reviewer says:

Untwine was an incredible book about one girl’s journey to self discovery after the loss of her twin sister. Giselle’s struggle to truly figure out who she was after going through emotional turmoil before and after her sister’s death was very emotionally involving and moving. I couldn’t put the book down. I was so drawn in by Giselle’s struggle to figure our who she was after she experienced such grief. It really makes one think about factor’s that determine who we are and how the people we meet, places we go, experiences we have all the have the ability to greatly impact us and in Giselle’s case, it took such a drastic trauma for her to truly realize who she was and wanted to be, especially when what she had previously thought about herself had been greatly altered by her sister’s death. I loved how Edwidge Danticat incorporated aspects of Haitian culture and history into her novel and made that a large portion of Giselle’s identity.

– Olivia, 16, Bronx, NY

Want to become a Young Reviewer?  See our past monthly picks.

Children’s Book Committee – January Pick

January 11, 2016



Mango, Abuela, and Me
by Meg Medina, illustrated by Angela Dominguez

When Mia’s grandmother comes to live with Mia and her parents, with the help of a parrot, each learns a new language to communicate. Art in ink, gauche, and marker.

Our Young Reviewer says:

Abuela reminds me of Mama Rosa, and Mama Consuelo. Mama Rosa comes every Saturday but Mama Consuelo has to get on a plane to come here. I like when Mia has a shy face in the beginning. Also I liked when they labeled things to learn English.

– Manu, 5, Bronx, NY

Want to become a Young Reviewer?  See our past monthly picks.

Notes from the Bank Street Writers Lab

January 6, 2016

The Writers Lab was created by Bank Street founder Lucy Sprague Mitchell in 1937 to provide a supportive workshop where published authors could critique each other’s works-in-progress and strive for excellence. Margaret Wise Brown of Goodnight Moon was an early member. Later Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are, and Mordicai Gerstein, The Man Who Walked Between the Towers, became members too.

One of the display cases in the lobby of the College exhibits selected works of the current members of the BSWL. All of these titles are available for patrons to borrow from the College library.


The Lab members have had a very prolific year. Below are a selection of some of the books, articles and poems published this past year and scheduled for publication in 2016. A few members will also be panelists and moderators at different conferences around the country.

Amy Hest will publish one title with Candlewick, Are You There Mother Bear? and another with Abrams, My Old Pal, Oscar.


Arlene Mark published, “Do Not Open Until the Year 3000” in Highlights magazine in January 2015. She will also publish an article about a novice monk in Myanmar in July 2016 in Spider magazine.

Orel Protopopescu had two poems published this year in Oberon Poetry. In the coming year, she will publish “The Red-eyed Vireo” and “The Red-billed Oxpecker” in Light Poetry Magazine and “Stopping By a Darkening World” and “The Blue Book of Love” in a British publication entitled LightenUpOnline.

Selene Castrovilla’s YA novel Signs of Life, Book Two in the Rough Romance Trilogy, will be published on March 29, 2016. Revolutionary Rogues: Benedict Arnold and John André a companion book to her Revolutionary Friends will be published by Highlights Press in the fall.


Fran Manushkin will publish seven titles. Two from the Katie Woo series (Picture Window Books).

And four titles in a new series, Pedro (Capstone).

As well as Big Boy Underpants (Random House).


Emma Otheguy will publish Martí in the Catskills, a biography of poet and Cuban national hero José Martí in 2017, illustrated by Beatriz Vidal (Lee and Low Books). Recently, she presented at the Comadres and Compadres Latino Writers Conference.

Jackie Azúa Kramer will publish The Green Umbrella through North/South books in September 2016.


Arlene Hirschfelder and Yvonne Dennis have co-authored Native American Almanac. This will be available in May of 2016. They are also presenting at the UNM Indigenous Books and Authors Festival:  Beyond Stereotypes, Prejudice and Racism.


Cynthia Weill will publish the sixth book in her “First Concepts in Mexican Folk Art” series, Animal Talk (Cinco Puntos 2016).


– Cindy Weill





Announcing the 2016 Dorothy Carter Writer-in-Residence!

December 11, 2015

The Bank Street Center for Children’s Literature is delighted to announce that this April we will host our second annual Dorothy Carter Writer-in-Residence.

Adam Gidwitz, best selling author of A Tale Dark and Grimm, will work with the 9s/10s on novel writing from April 4th – 16th. Adam is an alumni of the Graduate School of Education (Gs ’08) and we are always excited to welcome him back to Bank Street!

Last year, Newbery medalist Kwame Alexander inaugurated the program as the first Dorothy Carter Writer-in-Residence. Kwame worked with the 9s/10s on their poetry curriculum in April 2015.

The program is named in honor of Dorothy Carter, Bank Street’s first African American faculty member, writer of highly acclaimed children’s books, chair of the Bank Street Writers Lab, and Broadway actress. She was also a recipient of the Lucy Sprague Mitchell Award. We lost Dorothy in 2012, but continue to celebrate her contributions to children’s literature through the Writer-in-Residence program.


Eric Carle and Dorothy Carter

If you wish to make a donation to support the Dorothy Carter Writer-in-Residence fund, you can do so here.

Children’s Book Committee – December Pick

December 1, 2015


Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War
by Steve Sheinkin
(Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan)

The Vietnam War’s history woven with Daniel Ellsberg’s personal odyssey culminates in his leaking the Pentagon Papers, a secret history of the war. Photos. Bibliography. (14-18)

Our Young Reviewer says:

Most Dangerous was without a doubt one of my favorite books ever. When I noticed what the book was about; I was immediately intrigued. In my opinion American politics are fascinating. However, that being said; I normally do not enjoy non-fiction as much as fiction. I was intrigued by the subject of the book, but also skeptical because I knew it was non-fiction. Then I started reading and I loved every second of it. I completely forgot that it was non-fiction I was reading because Daniel Ellsberg’s story reads like a spy/soldier novel. Steve Sheinkin does an excellent job at the beginning by drawing the reader in with a top secret mission and then introducing Ellsberg. Sheinkin begins chapter one with the question that every reader has: who is Daniel Ellsberg, and what did he do? In this way a reader feels compelled to understand who Daniel Ellsberg was. After the small anecdote of the break in, Sheinkin talks about how Ellsberg got into politics, what it was like, and how it worked. To me, that was a gold mine. I have ambitions to one day go into politics, but I also recognize that for a majority of high school students all the names and position titles do not mean as much. I think Sheinkin did the right thing in giving the background and set up; because without it a reader does not fully understand what happened, but many readers will feel bogged down by facts and small stories of the past that do not have meaning to them.

When Ellsberg goes into Vietnam personally, the story takes on more life. To many readers, hearing about gruesome details is hard, but war and action in general hold their attention. I enjoyed the way in which it changed Ellsberg’s mind about the war. Being in the area and seeing the things he sees changes who he is and convinces him the war is wrong. I think Sheinkin should have put more of an emphasis on how important that is. That would be a valuable lesson for readers; that somethings may seem like a good idea when glanced at, but up close and personal they are much harder to digest.

Now, part 2 of the book is amazing. The secretive way in which Ellsberg has to live his life is reminiscent of a James Bond movie without the guns and violence. Also, the way that Ellsberg has to wrestle with the decision of what he is doing and its consequences present to the reader the question of whether or not he was right. Regarding this topic; I think that Sheinkin does a sub par job. Officially in the book; he has no real thesis statement where he says that he is going to prove Ellsberg was a hero, and throughout the book Sheinkin works to stay neutral,  but as with any author; there is language and perspective that makes it clear that Sheinkin believes Ellsberg did the right thing. In my opinion, unless there is a clear thesis Sheinkin needs to do a better job of keeping his position unknown and only presenting the facts.

After reading part 2; I was addicted to the story of the Pentagon Papers and what they were, but part 3 made it even better. The way in which Sheinkin tells the story of multiple newspaper companies being issued court orders, and the way loopholes were found was amazing. The courage and righteousness these newspapers had is astounding. However, the best part of the whole book are the anecdotes about how the papers were obtained. The untraceable methods used by the secret society surrounding Ellsberg were the coolest things ever. Even in words; it felt as though there was something at stake for me as well as the people in the book. In conclusion, everything about this book made me love it from beginning to end. I finished and understood so much more about the Pentagon Papers and who Daniel Ellsberg was.

-Adam, 15, Highland Park, NJ

Want to become a Young Reviewer?  See our past monthly picks.


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