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Children’s Book Committee – November Pick

November 9, 2015

My Story, My Dance: Robert Battle’s Journey to Alvin Ailey

by Lesa Cline-Ransome, illustrated by James E. Ransome, forward by Robert Battle
(Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books)

Gorgeous pastel paintings bring to life this inspiring chronicle of dancer/choreographer Robert Battle’s journey from bow-legged childhood to artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Sources and other back matter.

Our Young Reviewer says:

This book is special because it teaches a lot of good lessons (hard work pays off) which everybody should know. I would recommend this book for ages 11-20, who just started arts, sports, or a language. This is because it shows you can learn things even at an older age.

– Jordan, 11, Stamford, CT

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

BookFest @ Bank Street 2015

October 29, 2015


The 44th annual BookFest opened on October 24th to a sell out crowd!

The day began with registration and morning coffee.  Early on, participants were able to mingle with authors and moderators.

The library staff, as well as everyone else, was delighted with the return of Lisa Von Drasek, former children’s librarian and Jenny Brown, former Center for Children’s Literature director.


Lisa Von Drasek and illustrator Raúl Colón

Jenny Brown and historian Leonard S. Marcus

Jenny Brown and historian Leonard S. Marcus

Although composed at the gathering, the library staff had put in months of preparation.


Library staff preparing the day before BookFest


Director of library services, Kristin Freda, Jenny Brown, director of the Center for Children’s Literature, Cindy Weill, archivist & special collections librarian, Lindsey Wyckoff

The first panel, “Teachers as Writers,” was moderated by Leonard S. Marcus, children’s literature scholar. Authors Adam Gidwitz (GS ’08), Elizabeth Bluemle (GS ’98) and Cindy Weill made up the discussion group.


Leonard Marcus, Adam Gidwitz, Elizabeth Bluemle and Cindy Weill

The second panel, “Artists and Mentors: Book…Making…101,” was moderated by Joe Rogers Jr., founder of Total Equity Now. Panelists included: Christopher Myers, Shadra Strickland, Raúl Colón and Sara Varon. Joe also led the participants in a rousing rendition of Reading Rainbow!

After a short break, the day re-commenced. Monica Edinger of the Dalton School moderated the panel, “Young Women in the Plot Driver’s Seat.” Laura Amy Schlitz, Jeanne Birdsall, Kat Yeh and Liz Kessler shared their often hilarious insights.


Jeanne Birdsall, Monica Edinger, Kat Yeh


Monica Edinger, Liz Kessler, Jeanne Birdsall, Kat Yeh and Laura Amy Schlitz

Afterwards, participants moved to their break out groups to discuss themes in children’s literature.

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Later, participants had books autographed by BookFest authors and illustrators!

The final panel of the day was, “Pushing Narrative Boundaries in Teen Literature” moderated by Vicky Smith of Kirkus Reviews. Tim Wynne-Jones, Beth Kephart and Daniel José Older read selections from their books and discussed a variety of themes related to their work.


Vicky Smith, Daniel José Older, Beth Kephart and Tim Wynne-Jones

The audience was delighted with closing keynote speaker, Rita Williams-Garcia and her talk on the history she references in her books.

Some other photos from the day!

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-Cindy Weill

Photos courtesy Carol Van Houten. Check back soon for video of the day.

Children’s Book Committee – October Pick

October 22, 2015


Last Stop on Market Street
by Matt De La Peña
illustrated by Christian Robinson
(G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers)

A grandmother gently guides her complaining grandson to see the beauty in his environment of urban poverty.  Bright bold illustrations.  (4-6)

Our Young Reviewer says:

This book has beautiful and detailed illustrations. I also like it because I go to church with my grandparents and so does the main character C.J. We share special moments even on days that aren’t so great because they always show me and my sister how much they love and care for us.

– Anthony, 8

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

Help Choose the 2016 Irma Black Award and Cook Prize Winners!

September 28, 2015

ibalogoThe Irma Simonton Black and James H. Black Award for Excellence in Children’s Literature (Irma Black Award) goes to an outstanding book for young children–a book in which text and illustrations are inseparable, each enhancing and enlarging on the other to produce a singular whole. The Irma Black Award is unusual in that children are the final judges of the winning book.

If you work with six to eight year olds and would like to help choose this year’s Irma Black Award winner and honor books, please fill out a registration form for your class.

Cook Prize_webThe 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.

If you work with eight to ten-year olds and would like to help choose this year’s Cook Prize winner and honor books, please fill out a registration form.

The winners and honorees are honored at an award ceremony at Bank Street each May. Watch the 2015 ceremony here.

Meet the New Director

September 15, 2015

photo me

We are pleased to introduce you to the new director of the Bank Street Center for Children’s Literature, Cindy Weill.

Cindy Weill published her first children’s book in 2002 while she was working for an international organization in Ha Noi, Vietnam. Since then she has written six other children’s books with more titles to be released in 2016. She collaborates closely with artisans and artists in developing nations to create culturally authentic illustrations and text. These books have won numerous awards.

Prior to joining Bank Street, Cindy taught Spanish, supervised student teachers and consulted on a variety of educational projects K-12 in the U.S., Mexico and Southeast Asia. Before joining the college she was a member of the Children’s Book Committee and the Bank Street Writers Lab.

Cindy wrote her doctoral dissertation at Teachers College Columbia University around a book making project with a family of artisans in Oaxaca, Mexico. She also holds masters degrees from the University of Pennsylvania and Wesleyan. She was a Fulbright exchange teacher to Mexico and has won a variety of National Endowment of the Humanities awards.

Her publications include: Ten Mice for Tet (Chronicle 2002) and the First Concepts in Mexican Folk Art Series (Cinco Puntos Press) as well as academic articles on education and the arts.

Welcome Cindy!

Children’s Book Committee – September Pick

September 11, 2015


Like a River
by Kathy Cannon Wiechman
(Calkins Creek)

Two teenaged Union soldiers, each hiding a secret, face danger and the horrors of gunfire and imprisonment. A gripping story of loyalty and courage.

Our Young Reviewer says:

This book is unique because it is a war story told from a soldier’s perspective. I liked how personal the characters were when telling their story. I would definitely recommend this book.
– Devin, 11, Bronx, New York

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

Register Now for BookFest @ Bank Street 2015!

September 1, 2015

BookFest Logo

Join us for BookFest @ Bank Street on Saturday, October 24th!

9:00am – Arrive, register, and drink coffee

9:30 – Welcome

9:35 – 10:15am – “Teachers as Writers”
Panelists: Adam Gidwitz, Bank Street GS ’08, A Tale Dark and GrimmElizabeth Bluemle, Bank Street GS ’98, Tap! Tap! Boom! Boom!, and Cynthia Weill, Columbia Teachers College, Bank Street Writers Lab, Opuestos/Opposites.
Moderator: Leonard S. Marcus, children’s literature scholar and Honorary Degree holder from Bank Street College of Education

10:15 – 11:00am – “Artists and Mentors: Book…Making…101”
Panelists: Christopher Myers(Jake Makes the World; My Pen), Shadra Strickland (Bird; Please, Louise), Raúl Colón (Draw!), and Sara Varon (Robot Dreams; Bake Sale).
Moderator: Joe Rogers, Jr., Founder & Facilitator of Total Equity Now

11:00 – 11:15am – Break

11:15 – 12:15pm – “Young Women in the (Plot) Driver’s Seat”
Panelists: Laura Amy Schlitz (The Hired Girl), Jeanne Birdsall (The Penderwicks in Spring), Kat Yeh (The Truth about Twinkie Pie), and Liz Kessler (Emily Windsnap and the Ship of Lost)
Moderator: Monica Edinger, The Dalton School

12:15 – 1:15pm – Book Discussions (DISCUSSION GROUP LEADERS AND BOOK LIST)

1:15 – 2:00pm – Lunch and Book Autographing

2:05 – 3:00pm – “Pushing Narrative Boundaries in Teen Literature”
Panelists: Tim Wynne-Jones (The Emperor of Anyplace), Beth Kephart (One Thing Stolen), Daniel José Older (Shadowshaper)
Moderator: Vicky Smith, reviews editor, Kirkus Reviews

3:00 – 3:30pm – Closing keynote: Rita Williams-Garcia (Gone Crazy in Alabama)

3:30 – 4:00pm – Autographing in the lobby – books for sale from the Bank Street Book Store team



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