Hollins Announces Winner of the 2020 Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children’s Literature

Hollins University has honored a writer/illustrator/academic from the United Kingdom as the winner of the fifth annual Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children’s Literature.

Wendy Meddour, an internationally best-selling children’s author whose books have been translated into 18 languages, will receive an engraved medal and a $1,000 cash prize for Lubna and Pebble, illustrated by Daniel Egnéus and published by Dial Books. In a story that subtly addresses the refugee crisis, a young girl must decide if friendship means giving up the one item that brings her comfort during a time of uncertainty.

Lubna and Pebble stands out as exemplary picture book writing,” the judges for this year’s prize stated. “Concise and poignant, its simple words dramatize a child’s resourcefulness and hope in the face of her difficulties as a refugee. That she ultimately transfers her fortitude to another child, in an act of self-denial, is her greatest triumph.”

Time magazine selected Lubna and Pebble as one of the “10 Best YA and Children’s Books of 2019,” while both the New York Public Library and Chicago Public Library placed it on their respective “Best Books” lists for the year. Horn Book noted that “Meddour’s short, simple sentences pack and emotional punch….This tender, understated story honors the emotional resilience of young people.”

Judges for this year’s Margaret Wise Brown Prize also named one Honor Book: One Dark Bird, written by Liz Garton Scanlon, illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon, and published by Simon and Schuster.

Each year, Hollins invites nominations for the prize from children’s book publishers located across the country and around the world. A three-judge panel, consisting of established picture book authors, reviews the nominations and chooses a winner.

Hollins established the Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children’s Literature as a way to pay tribute to one of its best-known alumnae and one of America’s most beloved children’s authors. The cash prizes are made possible by an endowed fund created by James Rockefeller, Brown’s fiancé at the time of her death.

“The Margaret Wise Brown Prize is one of the few children’s book awards that has a cash prize attached,” said Lisa Rowe Fraustino, director of the graduate programs in children’s literature at Hollins.

The engraved medal presented to the winners was conceived by award-winning sculptor, painter, and Hollins alumna Betty Branch of Roanoke. Winners and Honor Book recipients are presented an original linocut certificate designed and donated by Ashley Wolff, author and/or illustrator of over 50 children’s books.

Margaret Wise Brown graduated from Hollins in 1932 and went on to write Goodnight Moon, The Runaway Bunny, and other children’s classics before she died in 1952. Hollins celebrated her life and work with a year-long Margaret Wise Brown Festival in 2011 and 2012, which featured stage and musical adaptations of her work along with readings, workshops, guest lectures, and other activities for all ages.

The study of children’s literature as a scholarly experience was initiated at Hollins in 1973; in 1992, the graduate program in children’s literature was founded. Today, Hollins offers summer M.A. and M.F.A. programs exclusively in the study and writing of children’s literature, an M.F.A. in children’s book writing and illustrating, and a graduate-level certificate in children’s book illustration.

This summer, Hollins’ children’s literature program will release information on how to submit books for consideration for the 2021 Margaret Wise Brown Prize.


M.F.A. Student Selected As “We Need Diverse Books” Mentee

Donald A.D. Sutton, an aspiring author and illustrator who is currently pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree in children’s literature and children’s book illustration at Hollins, is one of ten book creators chosen to take part in the We Need Diverse Books (WNDB) Mentorship Program for 2020.

WNDB is a nonprofit organization of children’s book lovers that advocates for essential changes in the publishing industry to produce and promote literature that reflects and honors the lives of all young people.

Sutton, who hails from Hazlehurst, Mississippi, discovered his passion for children’s literature and illustration while completing a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in animation at the Savannah College of Art and Design. He and the nine other mentees, whom Mentorship Program Co-Chair Meg Cannistra called “phenomenal, an extremely talented group,” will spend a year engaged in one-on-one relationships with authors and illustrators who are established in the picture book, middle grade, and young adult genres. Some of the program’s former mentees have gone on to sign with prominent industry agents, publish multiple works, or secure a debut book contract.

Sutton will be mentored by Floyd Cooper, an illustrator of nearly 100 books for children, including Ruth and the Green Book, These Hands, A Beach Tail, and A Dance Like Starlight, which received a Kirkus Starred Review. He is a three-time Coretta Scott King Honoree and an NAACP Image Award winner.

 


New Book by MFA Grads Supports Local Early Literacy Initiative

Two Hollins authors are helping to promote the benefits of reading with children from birth with the publication of their new book.

Copies of Slow Time, Hush Time by Jennifer Wood M.F.A. ’19 and Lucinda Rowe M.F.A. ’19, both alumnae of the university’s graduate programs in children’s literature and children’s book illustration, will be given for free to new mothers at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital. The nonprofit organization Turn the Page, whose mission is to provide every child born in the Roanoke Valley with his or her own home library of books during the first three years of life, is coordinating the distribution. The book is part of Turn the Page’s Early Literacy project, which is co-directed by Hollins faculty members Anna Baynum, associate professor of education, and Tiffany Pempek, associate professor of psychology.

On every page of Slow Time, Hush Time are ways for parents to interact with their young child. The suggestions are intended to foster bonding, language, and social development, along with creating a foundation for a lifetime enjoyment of reading.


Submission Deadline for 2020 Margaret Wise Brown Prize is January 15

Publishers of picture books released in 2019 are invited to have their works considered for the 2020 Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children’s Literature. The deadline for submissions is January 15, 2020.

Presented annually, the Margaret Wise Brown Prize recognizes the author of the best text for a picture book published during the previous year. The award is a tribute to one of Hollins University’s best-known alumnae and one of America’s most beloved children’s authors. Winners are given a $1,000 cash prize, which comes from an endowed fund created by James Rockefeller, Brown’s fiancé at the time of her death. Each recipient will also receive an engraved bronze medal as well as an invitation to accept the award and present a reading on campus during the summer session of Hollins’ graduate programs in children’s literature.

Judges for the 2020 prize include:

  • John Sullivan, author of the 2019 Margaret Wise Brown Prize-winning book Kitten and the Night Watchman.
  • Denise Fleming, author-illustrator of over two dozen picture books, including the Caldecott Honor Book In the Small, Small Pond.
  • Dianne “Dinah” Johnson-Feelings, professor of children’s literature at the University of South Carolina and author of several picture books, including Hair Dance, a Bank Street Best Children’s Book.

The publisher should submit four copies of each book they wish to nominate for the Margaret Wise Brown Prize: one copy to Hollins University and one copy to each of the three judges. Books must have been first published in 2019; reprints and translations are not eligible. The winner will be announced in May 2020.

Please contact Lisa Rowe Fraustino at fraustinolr@hollins.edu for the judges’ addresses and further submission instructions.

The study of children’s literature as a scholarly experience was initiated at Hollins in 1973; in 1992, the graduate program in children’s literature was founded. Today, Hollins offers summer M.A. and M.F.A. programs exclusively in the study and writing of children’s literature, an M.F.A. in children’s book writing and illustrating, and a graduate-level certificate in children’s book illustration.

 


Netflix To Feature YA Drama Based On Hollins Author’s Novel

An acclaimed young adult book co-written by an alumna of Hollins’ graduate programs in children’s literature is headed to Netflix.

The Internet TV network has ordered 10 episodes of Tiny Pretty Things, an hour-long series based on the novel by Dhonielle Clayton M.A. ’09 and Sona Charaipotra. The show is scheduled to premiere in 2020.

Tiny Pretty Things follows the triumphs and challenges of students at The Archer School of Ballet, an elite dance academy in Chicago where the competition to succeed is fierce. Published by HarperCollins in 2015, the novel is described by Kirkus Reviews as “a page-turner with a heart.” Publishers Weekly notes, “This enticing glimpse into the ballet world is rich with detail and drama as the authors highlight its glamour and darkness.” Shiny Broken Pieces, a sequel, was released the following year.

Clayton’s other works include The Belles (her debut solo novel, released in 2018) and The Everlasting Rose (Book Two in The Belles series, published in March of this year). She has also contributed to the story collections Black Enough: Stories of Being Young and Black in America; Meet Cute: Some People Are Destined to Meet; and Unbroken: 13 Stories Starring Disabled Teens. Originally from the Washington, D.C., suburbs, Clayton went on to major in English at Wake Forest University. After earning her M.A. in children’s literature at Hollins, she completed her M.F.A. in creative writing at The New School. A former secondary school teacher and elementary and middle school librarian, she is co-founder of CAKE Literary, which is described as “a creative kitchen whipping up decadent – and decidedly diverse – literary confections for middle grade, young adult, and women’s fiction readers,” and is also chief operating officer of the non-profit We Need Diverse Books.

Clayton taught a week-long workshop at Hollins in July on writing for children and will be joining the faculty of the university’s graduate programs in children’s literature in the summer of 2020.

 


Penguin Random House to Publish Hollins Author’s Debut Novel

Rebekah Lowell was drawn to Hollins five years ago to pursue an advanced degree in children’s book writing and illustrating. At the same time, the university’s graduate programs in children’s literature offered her sanctuary and the chance to regain her identity after enduring a decade of domestic abuse. Today, Lowell holds a Master of Fine Arts degree and says she has made great strides in finding her true self again. The Maine resident has also sold her debut book, The Road to After, to the Nancy Paulsen Books imprint at Penguin Random House.

“When I first arrived at Hollins with my young daughters, we drove straight from a women’s shelter,” Lowell recalls. “The first week in classes, I almost had to return home because of the level of trauma we had all been through. But Ruth Sanderson (author, illustrator, and professor in Hollins’ graduate programs in children’s literature) and Amanda Cockrell (who retired last year as director of the children’s literature graduate programs) were creative, generous, and supportive. After being at Hollins for a few weeks, I knew I had found a safe place to not only heal, but to thrive.”

Susan Bloom Discovery Award
This year, Rebekah Lowell M.F.A. ’19 received the Susan P. Bloom Children’s Book Discovery Award, which honors emerging writers and writer/illustrators.

Publishers Weekly describes The Road to After as “an illustrated middle grade novel written in verse about how the beauty of the natural world helps a girl reclaim her life after years of captivity and domestic abuse at the hands of her father.” Lowell says she was “compelled to write about my past” after she had been enrolled for a few summers in the M.F.A. program.

“The words first showed up as a picture book manuscript, but the content needed more room to breathe,” she explains. At her home in February of 2016, she used verse to expand on the story “because it begged to be written that way,” and completed a rough draft. Candice Ransom, the author of 150 children’s books and a member of the children’s literature graduate programs’ faculty, agreed to help edit the book; by the following summer, Lowell was laying out the entire novel on classroom tables in the Richard Wetherill Visual Arts Center at Hollins.

After developing a few more drafts, Lowell felt she was ready to reach out to an agent for representation. In the spring of 2018, she signed with Wendi Gu at Janklow & Nesbit, who, Lowell says, “fell in love with the project. We workshopped it more, and about 16 drafts later, we started sending it out to editors.” In April 2019, Penguin/Paulsen bought The Road to After at auction, and the novel is slated for publication in the spring of 2022.

Lowell is quick to express her gratitude to Ransom and other professors and classmates for their help in bringing her novel to fruition. “Throughout revision, prior to the sale, there were many times when I wondered if the voice was unique enough, if the psychological abuse was coming through, if my presence as the mother in the book was too strong. Hillary Homzie, Lisa Fraustino, Julie Pfeiffer, and others offered to read the text and provide feedback, even outside of classes.”

Lowell graduated in May, and while she deeply misses being on campus this summer, she hopes to return one day in another capacity.

“The wonder of Hollins stays with me,” she says.

 


Wilson Museum Exhibition Inspired by the Ideas of Immigrants and “Otherness”

Each summer, the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum collaborates with the Master of Fine Arts program in children’s book writing and illustrating at Hollins University to present exhibitions by faculty and visiting artists.

Award-winning author and illustrator Mary Jane Begin, who will become chair of the program on July 1, deconstructs the creative process and shares the development of two book projects, Revolution and Ping Meets Pang, in the exhibition Mapping the Imagination, which will be on display June 28 – September 9. Begin has selected artwork that reflects both the inspiration for the story concept and for the technical style that fit each book, as well as formation sketches that explore the organic, iterative nature of creativity.

Revolution is based on the story of Begin’s grandmother, who immigrated to America and worked as a child laborer in the textile mills of New England. Ping Meets Pang is about two pandas that are convinced that the other is not a panda because they don’t look or act alike. Each of these stories were inspired by the ideas of immigrants and “otherness,” topics that have been deeply resonant for the artist as she continues to contemplate the current cultural and political landscape. Begin explores these themes through an investigation of story, style, materials, and imagination.

Begin is best known for her acclaimed picture books Little Mouse’s Painting, Before I Go to Sleep, A Mouse Told His Mother, retellings of The Sorcerer’s Apprentice and Willow Buds, and tales inspired by Wind in the Willows. Her latest picture book is My Little Pony: Under the Sparkling Sea, published by Little Brown Books. She has served as a professor at the Rhode Island School of Design for the past 21 years.

The Wilson Museum will host Begin for an artist lecture on Friday, June 28, at 7:30 p.m. in Room 119 of the Richard Wetherill Visual Arts Center. A reception and book signing will follow.

The Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University is open Tuesday – Sunday, noon – 5 p.m., and Thursday, noon – 8 p.m. Admission is always free.

 

Image: Mary Jane Begin, Illustration from Ping Meets Pang, 2019. Courtesy of the artist.

 


Salowey, Cockrell Recognized at Honors Convocation

Hollins paid tribute to two revered faculty members during the university’s 42nd Honors Convocation on May 7.

Professor of Classical Studies Tina Salowey received the Herta T. Freitag Faculty Legacy Award. Since 2000, Hollins has presented the award to a member of the faculty whose recent scholarly and creative accomplishments reflect the extraordinary academic standards set by Freitag, who served as professor of mathematics at Hollins from 1948 to 1971.

“This year’s honoree teaches numerous literature genres, two ancient languages, and the art, religion, history, philosophy, architecture, science, and geography of the long-lived civilizations that spoke and wrote those languages,” Vice President for Academic Affairs Patricia Hammer stated in her convocation remarks. “The breadth and scope of her interests have in turn had a profound impact on her work as a researcher and a scholar.”

Hammer noted that Salowey’s intensive study of ancient grave monuments was chosen for inclusion in the 2017 publication, Women in the Classical World: Critical Concepts in Classical Studies. In collaboration with Associate Professor of Communication Studies Chris Richter, Salowey developed a digital exhibition on the World War II memorials in the Epirus region of northwestern Greece, preserving their location, sculptural design, and often poetic inscriptions. Another digital exhibition, produced with students in Salowey’s Greek 350: Greek Inscriptions class, included photographs of ancient Greek texts that were inscribed on ancient works of art. Her future scholarly plans include a textbook on mythology and environmental history, and writing a biography about the River Acheloos, the largest river in Greece.

Salowey joined the Hollins faculty in 1996.

Amanda Cockrell, who retired last year as director of Hollins’ graduate programs in children’s literature, was presented the Roberta A. Stewart Service Award. The award is granted to a Hollins employee who demonstrates long-term service, loyalty to the university, and deep caring for students and colleagues.

Beginning with just six students, Cockrell and Professor of English Richard Dillard co-founded the children’s literature graduate programs in 1992. The program was one of the first of its kind in the country, devoted exclusively to the study and writing of children’s and young adult literature. “Over the years, the program has grown in so many wonderful ways, thanks to her remarkable leadership,” said Hammer. “And her dedication to helping students find not a ‘Hollins’ voice but their own voice has profoundly touched lives both personally and creatively. As one former student noted, ‘She has counseled us, taught us, guided us, answered a million questions, sent a thousand emails, and kept track of dozens of students at once. We salute her for creating a program that has become a safe haven to so many of us, a home away from home.'”

Over the years, approximately 230 students have passed through the graduate programs designed and built by Cockrell.

 

 


Hollins Announces Winner of the 2019 Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children’s Literature

Hollins University has honored a first-time author as the winner of the fourth annual Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children’s Literature.

John Sullivan will receive an engraved medal and a $1,000 cash prize for his debut children’s book, Kitten and the Night Watchman, illustrated by Taeeun Yoo and published by Simon & Schuster. The work is inspired by the true story of Sullivan, a City of Chicago buildings and equipment guard, and his encounter with a cat that would become his companion for 17 years.

In the book, a watchman bonds with a stray kitten that keeps him company as he makes his rounds at a construction site. After remaining together through the night, the watchman decides to take the kitten with him when he returns home to his family.

Kitten and the Night Watchman was selected as a Best Book of 2018 by The Boston Globe, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, and Bookpage. In its starred review, the Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books said, “This soft, gentle story is a perfect bedtime story for lovers of trucks and construction equipment, cats, and nighttime wanders.”

The judges for this year’s prize also named two Honor Books: Libba: The Magnificent Musical Life of Elizabeth Cotten by Laura Veirs, published by Chronicle Books, and Carmela Full of Wishes by Matt de la Peña, published by Penguin Young Readers. The judges considered both to be “outstanding examples of picture book writing” in the tradition of Margaret Wise Brown.

Each year, Hollins invites nominations for the prize from children’s book publishers located across the country and around the world. A three-judge panel, consisting of established picture book authors, reviews the nominations and chooses a winner.

Hollins established the Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children’s Literature as a way to pay tribute to one of its best-known alumnae and one of America’s most beloved children’s authors. The cash prizes are made possible by an endowed fund created by James Rockefeller, Brown’s fiancé at the time of her death.

“The Margaret Wise Brown Prize is one of the few children’s book awards that has a cash prize attached,” said Lisa Rowe Fraustino, director of the graduate programs in children’s literature at Hollins.

The engraved medal presented to the winners was conceived by award-winning sculptor, painter, and Hollins alumna Betty Branch of Roanoke. Winners and Honor Book recipients are presented an original linocut certificate designed and donated by Ashley Wolff, author and/or illustrator of over 50 children’s books. Winners are invited to accept the award and speak on campus during the summer session of Hollins’ graduate programs in children’s literature.

Margaret Wise Brown graduated from Hollins in 1932 and went on to write Goodnight Moon, The Runaway Bunny, and other children’s classics before she died in 1952. Hollins celebrated her life and work with a year-long Margaret Wise Brown Festival in 2011 and 2012, which featured stage and musical adaptations of her work along with readings, workshops, guest lectures, and other activities for all ages.

The study of children’s literature as a scholarly experience was initiated at Hollins in 1973; in 1992, the graduate program in children’s literature was founded. Today, Hollins offers summer M.A. and M.F.A. programs exclusively in the study and writing of children’s literature, an M.F.A. in children’s book writing and illustrating, and a graduate-level certificate in children’s book illustration.

This summer, Hollins’ children’s literature program will release information on how to submit books for consideration for the 2020 Margaret Wise Brown Prize.


Submission Deadline for 2019 Margaret Wise Brown Prize Is Jan. 15

Publishers of picture books released in 2018 are invited to have their works considered for the 2019 Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children’s Literature. The deadline for submissions is January 15, 2019.

Presented annually, the Margaret Wise Brown Prize recognizes the author of the best text for a picture book published during the previous year. The award is a tribute to one of Hollins University’s best-known alumnae and one of America’s most beloved children’s authors. Winners are given a $1,000 cash prize, which comes from an endowed fund created by James Rockefeller, Brown’s fiancé at the time of her death. Each recipient will also receive an engraved bronze medal as well as an invitation to accept the award and present a reading on campus during the summer session of Hollins’ graduate programs in children’s literature.

Judges for the 2019 prize include:

  • Elaine Magliaro, author of the 2018 Margaret Wise Brown Prize-winning book Things to Do.
  • Laura Kvasnosky, author of Little Wolf’s First Howling, the 2018 Margaret Wise Brown Prize Honor Book.
  • B. Lewis, a five-time Coretta Scott King Award-winning illustrator of over 70 books for children.

The publisher should submit four copies of each book they wish to nominate for the Margaret Wise Brown Prize: one copy to Hollins University and one copy to each of the three judges. Books must have been first published in 2018; reprints are not eligible. The winner will be announced in May 2019.

Please contact Lisa Rowe Fraustino at fraustinolr@hollins.edu for the judges’ addresses and further submission instructions.

The study of children’s literature as a scholarly experience was initiated at Hollins in 1973; in 1992, the graduate program in children’s literature was founded. Today, Hollins offers summer M.A. and M.F.A. programs exclusively in the study and writing of children’s literature, an M.F.A. in children’s book writing and illustrating, and a graduate-level certificate in children’s book illustration.