"Cat Dog Dog" Wins Irma Black Award

The Bank Street's Center for Children's Literature award is voted on by first and second graders around the world.

Cat Dog Dog: The Story of a Blended Family was named the winner of the 2021 Irma Simonton Black and James H. Black Award for Excellence in Children’s Literature (Irma Black Award) for "picture book in which text and illustrations work together to form an inseparable and outstanding whole."

"Cat Dog Dog embodies the Irma Black Award," director of Bank Street's Center for Children's Literature (CCL) Cynthia Weill said of the Schwartz and Wade title written by Nelly Buchet and illustrated by Andrea Zuill. "The spare text and detailed illustrations are inseparable. Kids love the humor. It is also a wonderful beginning reader for children who will want to read it multiple times."

The winner was selected by first and second graders from around the world.

"It taught me that change can sometimes be annoying and sometimes fun," said Charlotte, one of the young voters.

Added Cade, "It was silly and fun. I liked how they all made friends."

Acting as the judges for the award helps the early elementary children in many ways, according to Weill.

"For almost 50 years, the process of choosing an Irma Black winner has helped children to become better and more observant readers, sharpen deliberation, advocacy and public speaking skills, and critical thinking," she said. "Bank Street believes in child-centered learning and this award reflects that philosophy."

[READ: Your Place in the Universe Named 2021 Cook Prize Winner]

The silver medalists were:

Bread for Words: A Frederick Douglass Story by Shana Keller, illustrated by Kayla Stark (Sleeping Bear)

Nana Akua Goes to School by Tricia Elam Walker, illustrated by April Harrison (Random/Schwartz & Wade)

Your Name Is a Song by Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, illustrated by Luisa Uribe (Innovation Pr.)

This year's May award ceremony honoring the Irma Black and Cook Prize recipients was canceled because of the pandemic. Instead, award recipients have created child-friendly videos highlighting aspects of their books. The videos will be shared with participating schools and be available on the Center for Children's Literature's website. Irma Black Award videos will be available by June 10. The Cook Prize videos for best STEM picture book winners are available now.

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