New York’s Bank Street Center for Children’s Literature (CCL) recently announced the finalists for both its annual Irma Simonton Black and James H. Black Award for Excellence in Children’s Literature and its Cook Prize for the best STEM-themed (science, technology, engineering, and math) picture book.
“It was a good year,” says Bank Street children’s librarian Allie Bruce. Bruce is particularly excited that diversity was a hallmark of the books in which people, not animals, were the main characters. She looks forward to seeing the differences between how children and adults react to the finalists.
Setting the Irma Black Awards apart is its inclusion of children in the evaluation process. Sixteen semifinalists, selected by a committee comprised of educators, librarians, and writers, will be winnowed down to four finalists by third and fourth graders at the Bank Street School for Children. These students will examine these titles over a five-week period, taking into consideration both the art and text as they vote.
Like the Irma Black Award, the Cook Prize—the only national children’s award for STEM books—also incorporates children as a crucial part of the judging process. Though judges (two math/science faculty from the Graduate School of Education, two faculty members from the School for Children, and two alumni) choose four finalists, third- and fourth-grade students will vote for their favorite selection.
Irma Black Award Finalists
123 versus ABC (Harper) by Mike Boldt
Are the Dinosaurs Dead, Dad? (Peachtree) by Julie Middleton, illustrated by Russell Ayto
The Boy Who Cried Bigfoot! (S&S) by Scott Magoon
Bugs in My Hair! (Blue Sky Press) by David Shannon
Can’t Scare Me! (Atheneum) by Ashley Bryan
Chick-O-Saurus Rex (S&S) by Lenore Jennewin, illustrated by Daniel Jennewin
King for a Day (Lee & Low Books) by Rukhsana Khan, illustrated by Christiane Kromer
The King of Little Things (Peachtree) by Bil Lepp, illustrated by David T. Wenzel
Lucky Ducklings (Orchard Books) by Eva Moore, illustrated by Nancy Carpenter
Nurse Clementine (Candlewick) by Simon James
The Silver Button (Candlewick) by Bob Graham
That Is Not a Good Idea! (Balzer + Bray) by Mo Willems
Tiger in My Soup (Peachtree) by Kashmira Sheth, illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler
The Tree Lady (Beach Lane Books) by H. Joseph Hopkins, illustrated by Jill McElmurry
Warning: Do Not Open This Book! (S&S) by Adam Lehrhaupt, illustrated by Matthew Forsythe
Whale Shines (Abrams) by Fiona Robinson
Cook Prize Finalists
Bone by Bone: Comparing Animal Skeletons (Lerner) by Sara Levine, illustrated by T.S. Spookytooth
The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos (Roaring Brook) by Deborah Heiligman, illustrated by LeUyen Pham
No Monkeys, No Chocolate (Charlesbridge) by Melissa Stewart and Allen Young, illustrated by Nicole Wong
Toilet: How It Works (Macmillan) by David Macaulay
The Irma Black Award was established in 1972 to honor Irma Simonton Black, author, educator and long-time faculty member at Bank Street College of Education. The Cook Prize was established in 2012, in honor of two Bank Street educators—Don Cook of the Graduate School of Education, and Michael Cook (no relation) of the School for Children.