The fifth annual Children’s Choice Book Awards were awarded Monday evening at a charity gala in New York City, kicking off the 93rd annual Children’s Book Week. Jeff Kinney was named Author of the Year, and Brian Selznick named Illustrator of the Year. More than 900,000 children across the country cast their votes for the awards; Jarrett J. Krosoczka, who hosted the event, reported that the number of votes was more than double last year’s total, and more than all the previous years combined.
Kindergarten to Second Grade Book of the Year: Three Hens and a Peacock by Lester L. Laminack, illus. by Henry Cole (Peachtree)
Third to Fourth Grade Book of the Year: Bad Kitty Meets the Baby by Nick Bruel (Roaring Brook/Porter)
Fifth Grade to Sixth Grade Book of the Year: Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt (Clarion)
Teen Book of the Year: Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare (S&S/McElderry)
Author of the Year: Jeff Kinney, for Diary of a Wimpy Kid 6: Cabin Fever (Abrams./Amulet)
Illustrator of the Year: Brian Selznick, for Wonderstruck (Scholastic Press)
The audience gave a standing ovation to Teen Book of the Year presenter S.E. Hinton, whose seminal teen novel The Outsiders was published 45 years ago. She spoke about when she was a teenager, she looked around without success for books to read that reflected her life and experiences. “Today the young adult market is all about variety,” she said, “and all about being different. You have so many choices.”
Jack Gantos, who followed Hinton as a presenter, recalled how meaningful The Outsiders had been to him. When he was a teen, he said he found The Outsiders “in the gutter on the street,” he said. “Someone had literally kicked it to the curb. I picked that book up and it changed my life.”
In their acceptance speeches, the winners thanked a variety of people. Bruel thanked the country’s teachers, acknowledging the great debt that “everyone in this room” owes to them. “Teachers have always been our greatest advocates,” he said. Schmidt thanked, among others, his longtime editor, Virginia Buckley, and also eloquently thanked his wife, saying that everything he has written, he has written for her. Cassandra Clare thanked her husband Josh, “who always does the laundry while I’m working and never complains.” Kinney thanked his team at Abrams, saying, “Five years ago I was an unpublished author. It was so validating to have someone say your ideas are worth publishing.”
This year’s Impact Award went to Justin Tuck, defensive end for the New York Giants, for his contributions to cihldren’s literacy. Tuck and his wife founded an organization called R.U.S.H. for Literacy, which encourages children to Read, Understand, Succeed and Hope. Tuck recalled how hard his parents worked to put food on the table for the family, and how as a child he never got to travel anywhere. “My mom always told me, ‘You want to go somewhere, pick up a book.’ ” Calling literacy “the #1 stumbling block to success,” Tuck applauded the attendees in the room for their work in creating books for children, and said, “When starting your education, start with literacy.”
See our photo-essay of many of the winners and attendees.