The Gryphon Award, which includes a $1,000 prize, is given annually by The Center for Children’s Books. This year’s committee was chaired by Deborah Stevenson, director of the Center for Children’s Books, and Kate Quealy-Gainer, assistant editor of the Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books.
The prize is awarded to the author of an outstanding English language work of fiction or nonfiction for which the primary audience is children in kindergarten through fourth grade, and which best exemplifies those qualities that successfully bridge the gap in difficulty between books for reading aloud to children and books for practiced readers. With a core of regular committee members, the award has become a way to contribute to an ongoing conversation about literature for inexperienced readers and to draw attention to the literature that offers, in many different ways, originality, accessibility, and high quality for that audience.
“English takes the classic setting of the grade school classroom and makes it thoroughly modern, with details kids will instantly recognize,” said Stevenson. “She treats her protagonist and by extension her readers with sympathy and humor, understanding the issues they face and matter-of-factly reassuring them that they can indeed survive late classroom assignments and annoying older siblings.”
Gravity (Porter/Roaring Brook), written and illustrated by Jason Chin, combines clear and straightforward text with a fantastical visual narrative about a gravity-less world that brings home the scientific concept and invites readers to consider it in a brand new way.
The Slug (Tundra), written and illustrated by Elise Gravel, an irresistible entry in the Disgusting Creatures series, uses goofy wit and fresh, contemporary art to turn basic scientific exploration of the humble slug into something funny, fascinating, and delightfully gross.
Maddy Kettle: The Adventure of the Thimblewitch (Top Shelf), written and illustrated by Eric Orchard, is a lively fantasy graphic novel filled with action and atmospheric art that’s sure to draw kids whose visual sophistication races ahead of their reading skills.
The Gryphon Award was established in 2004 as a way to focus attention on transitional reading. “Every year, we’re able to expand our conversation about the kind of books that bring children from basic decoding to reading for plot, for information, and for pleasure," Stevenson said. “It’s our way of extending a hand to young readers at that stage, and to practitioners and educators looking for books to excite kids about growing as readers.”
The award committee consists of members drawn from the youth services faculty of GSLIS, the editorial staff of the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, public and school librarians, and the library and education community at large.
The award is sponsored by the Center for Children's Books and funded by the Center for Children's Books Gryphon Fund. Income from the fund supports the annual Gryphon Lecture as well as the Gryphon Award for children's literature. Gifts may be made to the fund by contacting Diana Stroud in the Office of Advancement at 217-244-9577.