25th Annual Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking Competition Student Winners Announced

May 20, 2011, 09:37 ET from Ezra Jack Keats Foundation

Ezra Jack Keats Foundation and New York City Department of Education Partner on Program for Grades 3-12; Brooklyn Students Receive Top Honors

NEW YORK, May 20, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation in partnership with the New York City Department of Education announced today the winners of the 25th Annual Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking Competition for grades 3-12.  The goal of the competition is to encourage young people to create picture books as a means of expressing themselves through visual arts and creative writing.

(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20110520/DC05985 )

At a ceremony held today at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 23 elementary, middle, and high school winners received medals, with city-wide winners also receiving $500 and borough-wide winners receiving $100 from the Foundation.  Nearly 130 public schools participated in this competition.

The winning books, along with Honorable Mentions and the top entry from each participating school—more than 100 books in total—are now on exhibit at the Mulberry Street Library branch of the New York Public Library until May 27, 2011.  The library branch is located at 10 Jersey Street (between Lafayette and Mulberry streets) in SoHo (212-966-3424).

"Like the competition's namesake, beloved children's picture book writer and illustrator Ezra Jack Keats, today's winners exemplify the talent and creativity of New York's public school students," says Deborah Pope, Executive Director of the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation.  "When Ezra was 12, he received an art achievement medal at Brooklyn Junior High School 149—an honor that encouraged him to further his education and develop his talents, despite countless obstacles. It is our hope that the awards handed out today will do the same for these budding writers and illustrators."

"The city, borough and school wide winning books celebrate the rich cultural heritage of New York City's public school students, reflect the dedication of our teachers and librarians, and above all, honor the voices of our students," says Karen Rosner, Coordinator of Visual Arts, New York City Department of Education, and supervisor of the Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking initiative. "The Office of Arts and Special Projects of the NYCDOE recognizes this competition as an artistic and literary venture with clear connections to career development."

"When Ezra Jack Keats won his medal, he had no idea that he would one day win the Caldecott Award for his classic, The Snowy Day," notes Pope. "Who knows what's in store for these accomplished students?"

Brooklyn Students Take Home Top Awards

The competition is divided into three categories: elementary (grades 3-5), middle (grades 6-8) and high school (grades 9-12). The city-wide winners in all categories this year attend Brooklyn schools.

In the grades 3-5 category, the winner is:

Let's Go For Dim Sum by Beracah Lam and Jodi Ho (grade 3)

School: P.S. / I.S. 229K, The Dyker School, Brooklyn

Teachers: Tanis Coniglione, Marie Dorval; Librarian: Ann Keegan; Principal: Robert Zappulla

Beracah and Jodi wrote: "We wrote a book about dim sum because it is a part of the Chinese culture we wanted to share. We decided to make a pop-up book to make our illustrations look more realistic. We wanted you to feel like you were really in a dim sum restaurant, [so] we imagined ourselves in the restaurant…[and used] different colored and designed papers for our collage to make tables, chairs and chandeliers. We had to make the pop-ups collapsible so the book could close. We had to work together and agree on ideas for the book. It took a lot of work to make a great book."

In the grades 6-8 category, the winner is:

Take the A Train by Tony Wu (grade 8)    

School: J.H.S. 259K, William McKinley, Brooklyn

Teacher: Roma Karas; Principal: Janice Geary

Tony wrote:  "...I have been playing in the school band for the past three years... I incorporated my interest in music and art in order to create the illustrations for the song Take the A Train... My intentions were for the viewer to get involved and interact with my work, so I incorporated musical sounds and 3-D pop-up effects in my book. There were times when the pop-ups malfunctioned, and I felt like giving up. My art teacher and my parents kept encouraging me to complete this project until the end. Apparently they were right."

In the grades 9-12 category, the winner is:

Lost in Frogslation by Maksim Gershman (grade 12)

School: Edward R. Murrow H.S., Brooklyn

Teachers: Spy Kontarinis, Assistant Principal; Carlos Rosado; Principal: Anthony Lodico

Maksim wrote:  "...When I first read the unabridged 1812 story [of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale, The Frog King, now commonly known as The Frog Prince], I was surprised to see that the princess hatefully throws the frog against a wall before he transforms into her Prince Charming. I found it quite interesting that the moral of the version of the story I was familiar with was nowhere to be found in its earliest incarnation. This is what inspired me to create a story that included elements from the 1812 [version] as well as modern interpretations of the fable. I combined my passion for graphic design with my interest for the fairy tale and created a version of the story, mixing the old and contemporary renditions with a twist of dark humor."

Guidelines and Judging

The annual Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking Competition begins each September when public school students are invited to create picture books, 15" by 18" or smaller, to encourage expression through visual arts and creative writing.

Students are permitted to select their own themes, with an emphasis on illustrated stories, and use a range of materials and media, from watercolors, pen, and ink to collage, plastic, feathers, Velcro, fabric, pipe cleaners, glitter, cellophane, and marbleized paper. All entries are created as part of ongoing classroom instruction under teacher and/or librarian supervision.

The judging panel, which is comprised of New York-based librarians, artists, and teachers, focuses on the quality of writing, illustrations and presentation. This year's panel of judges includes:

  • Julia Chang, Programming and Special Projects, Public Programs Lifelong Learning/Children and Families, The New York Public Library
  • Melissa Jacobs-Israel, Coordinator, New York City School Library System, Department of Education
  • Barbara Ornstein, former Children's Specialist, The Brooklyn Public Library, Central Branch
  • John Peters, former Supervising Librarian, The Children's Center at 42nd Street, The New York Public Library
  • Felix Plaza, Bibliobus Outreach Associate, The Brooklyn Public Library
  • Jo Beth Ravitz, Artist/Art Consultant
  • Christine Scheper, Children's Materials Specialist, The Queens Public Library

Special thanks to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, for hosting the awards ceremony; and to the New York Public Library, for exhibiting the winning books at the Mulberry Street Library.

About The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation

The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, founded by noted children's book writer and illustrator Ezra Jack Keats, is a non-profit that exists solely to bring the joy of reading and learning to all children.  For information about the Foundation please visit www.ezra-jack-keats.org.

*** Photos available, Video News Release available following the event. ***


Sheree Wichard / Donel Young

718-788-9585 / 732-295-2406

swichard@aol.com / donelyoung2@aol.com

SOURCE Ezra Jack Keats Foundation