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Bank Street Celebrates the Children’s Book Committee Book Awards

March 11, 2013

Last Thursday morning, the Bank Street Children’s Book Committee presented awards to its choices for the best children’s books of the year in Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry.

RJ-Palacio-with-J-Patrick-agent

R.J. Palacio won the 2013 Josette Frank Award for her debut novel, Wonder (Knopf/Random House). The Josette Frank Award honors a book of “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.”

In her acceptance speech, Palacio said she was born just three miles North of Bank Street College, in the Bronx. Her parents emigrated from Colombia and spoke no English when they arrived in the U.S. But Palacio grew up surrounded by books–her father preferred classics by Marcus Aurelius and Cervantes; her mother, more recent writers such as Thomas Mann, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Oscar Wilde. They met and fell in love over Pablo Neruda.

Although Doreen Rappaport could not be present for the ceremony, she recorded her acceptance speech for the 2013 Flora Stieglitz Straus Award for a nonfiction book that serves as an inspiration to young readers,” Beyond Courage: The Untold Story of Jewish Resistance During the Holocaust (Candlewick). Rappaport spoke of wanting “to dispel a vast and dangerous untruth that… Jews went like lambs to the slaughter.” Her book celebrates individuals who were part of resistance networks all across occupied Europe, some of them teenagers.

J. Patrick Lewis won the 2013 Claudia Lewis Award for the best poetry book of the year for young readers, for his anthology National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry: 200 Poems with Photographs That Squeak, Soar, and Roar! (National Geographic)

Marilyn Singer, whose poems are included in the winning anthology, accepted on behalf of Poet Laureate J. Patrick Lewis, who was doing school visits “in the midland moors of Ohio,” according to his acceptance speech. He said that after hearing the news of winning the 2013 Claudia Lewis Award, he “cartwheeled to the end of the street and back again. Twice.” After reading Lewis’s remarks, Singer also read a brief sampling of poems from the anthology, including selections by Jack Prelutsky, last year’s winner, Kristine O’Connell George, Robert Frost, Lewis and Singer. Congratulations to all the winners!

The complete list of 2013 recommended titles will be available online only, without charge, at  http://bankstreet.edu/center-childrens-literature/childrens-book-committee

–Jennifer M. Brown

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