Jon Scieszka and NBC's Al Roker with several children—the reason for Children's Book Week—at the first Children's Choice Book Awards. Photo: Laurent Alfieri.

As Children’s Book Council board member Simon Boughton greeted the crowd at Tuesday night’s gala event at the New York Times, “Happy Children’s Book Week!” And what a week it has shaped up to be. Children’s Book Week, traditionally celebrated in November, was moved to May for the first time this year, with many events throughout the week and a renewed energy for promoting the joys of reading to children across the country.

The first-ever Children’s Choice Book Awards were given out at the event, which was hosted by Jon Scieszka, the nation’s first ambassador for children’s literature. The Children’s Choice winners: Frankie Stein by Lola M. Schaefer, illustrated by Kevan Atteberry (Cavendish), in the kindergarten to second grade category; Big Cats by Elaine Landau (Enslow), in the third grade to fourth grade category; and Encylopedia Horrifica by Joshua Gee (Scholastic Paperbacks) in the fifth to sixth grade category. Ian Falconer was named Illustrator of the Year, and J.K. Rowling was named Author of the Year. And NBC host Al Roker received the Impact Award, for his work helping to promote reading on the Today show’s Al’s Book Club for Kids.

“I like to think we are all getting a taste of what Children’s Book Week can and should be,” said CBC executive director Robin Adelson. “With events for both children and adults who love books, it’s a fitting celebration. The Children’s Choice Book Awards were a definite highlight. The event was welcomed warmly by the industry and, I hope, enjoyed by all. The fabulous host for the evening, the program, the venue and the food were all fun and fresh and celebratory—and this was just the first year!”

Children’s Book Council executive director Robin Adelson greeted guests at a Children’s Book Week breakfast on Monday, in which the finalists for the Children’s Choice Book Awards received certificates. Leonard S. Marcus (r.), author of Minders of Make-Believe (Houghton), spoke about the history of children’s books. Photo: Joe Vericker, PhotoBureau Inc.

Children’s ambassador Jon Scieszka, along with Adelson, presented a certificate to Scholastic’s Ken Geist, author of Three Little Fish and the Big Bad Shark (Cartwheel). Photo: Joe Vericker, PhotoBureau Inc.

Marcus signed a copy of his book for Linda Gramatky Smith. Photo: Joe Vericker, PhotoBureau Inc.

Last Saturday afternoon, at a kick-off event called the Bryant Park Reading Room, authors, illustrators and children’s book characters read aloud, signed their books and entertained the crowd.

Adelson proudly displayed a Proclamation from Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, which deemed May 12 through 18 Children’s Book Week in Manhattan.

Marc Aronson and HP Newquist, co-authors of For Boys Only: The Biggest, Baddest, Best Book Ever (Feiwel & Friends), discussed their book.

CBC’s Michelle Bayuk holding Maybe a Bear Ate It! (Orchard) for author Robie Harris.

Brooklyn poet and author Marilyn Singer read aloud from her picture book, City Lullaby (Clarion).

Clifford the Big Red dog always finds his fans.

Tuesday night the children’s industry donned its finest duds for the gala Children’s Choice Book Awards.

Scieszka, Adelson and Roker welcomed the crowd. Photo: Laurent Alfieri.

Cocktail hour at the gala, which was held at the Times Center in the New York Times’s headquarters.
How many of these people do you know? Photo: Jerry Speier.

Caught mid-laugh: CBC Foundation board chair Lori Benton, along with Rick Richter and Rubin Pfeffer of Simon & Schuster.

Friends from their early days together at Little, Brown, Random House’s Beverly Horowitz and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s Betsy Groban caught up.

Belles of the ball: Michelle Bayuk, Kelly Giordano, Rebecca Miller and Robin Adelson, all of the Children’s Book Council.

Atheneum art director Ann Bobco, author/illustrator Ian Falconer, Brenda Bowen from HarperCollins, and NYT children’s books editor Julie Just.

Scholastic chairman Dick Robinson, Benton and Scieszka showed their pearly whites. In Scieszka’s remarks to the crowd, he said, “What I love most about being ambassador is being champion of the little guys.”

That’s Disney’s Angus Killick, Neal Porter of Roaring Brook Press, and Jason Wells of Abrams.

A member of the target audience perused the award nominees. Photo: Jerry Speier.

Scieszka greeted author/illustrator Brian Selznick, who presented the evening’s first-ever Impact Award. Photo: Jerry Speier.

Illustrator of the Year Ian Falconer. Photo: Laurent Alfieri.

And the Impact Award went to... Al Roker, for helping to promote reading on the Today show’s Al’s Book Club for Kids. All of Roker’s children’s book segments to date can be viewed online at Today’s Web site. Photo: Jerry Speier.