The winners of the seventh annual Children’s Choice Book Awards were announced May 14 at a ceremony in New York City co-hosted by the Children’s Book Council and Every Child a Reader. National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Kate DiCamillo served as emcee and host for the awards.
The Awards dinner, held at Capitale in lower Manhattan, got off to a blazing start––literally—with a fire alarm and an evacuation of all attendees onto the Bowery. There was an electrical fire in the air conditioning unit; after about 20 minutes, the Fire Department gave the all-clear sign for the party to resume, and the awards ceremony got underway shortly after.
“To give children a choice and to give them a voice is an honor,” said CBC executive director Robin Adelson, referring to the selection process for the Children’s Choice awards. The majority of category finalists are chosen by a procedure that involves children reading and voting on submitted titles; the Author and Illustrator of the Year finalists, however, are culled from books’ performances on bestseller lists.
“Each book on this list has a mindboggling fan base that came out in droves to vote for their favorites,” said Adelson, before announcing the Author of the Year award. It went to radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh, for Rush Revere and the Brave Pilgrims, first in his Time-Travel Adventures with Exceptional Americans series. Limbaugh, who had urged his listeners to cast a vote for him in the election, was on hand to accept his prize. He told the audience, “This genuinely is a thrill. It is a great project that you’ve got going here, the work you’ve been doing is just profound, and I’m honored and humbled to be a small little part of it.”
Grace Lee was named Illustrator of the Year for Sophia the First: The Floating Palace, a tie-in to the TV series based on the Disney Princess franchise. She accepted the award from the reigning illustrator of the year, Robin Preiss Glasser, who gave Lee her scepter but opted to keep the tiara that Brian Selznick bequeathed to her at last year’s awards. “I’ve had it surgically attached to my head,” Glasser explained, “hoping that his genius DNA would seep into my brain.” (“So I was actually really looking forward to your crown,” said Lee, after taking the stage.)
Book of the Year awards went to: The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers (kindergarten to second grade); Bugs in My Hair! by David Shannon (third to fourth grade); National Geographic Kids: Myths Busted! by Emily Krieger, illustrated by Tom Nick Cocotos (fifth to sixth grade); and Allegiant by Veronica Roth (teen).
Philomel publisher Michael Green accepted on behalf of Daywalt and Jeffers, thanking the CBC and “all the dedicated readers who took the time to vote.” He said "the readers have truly made the publication of Crayons a joy in every way."
“Either this means that a lot of kids liked the book or that a lot of kids have head lice,” said Bugs in My Hair! author David Shannon while accepting his award. He also gave a special shout-out to school nurses (“I want to thank them in particular”).
Fifth to sixth grade winner Emily Krieger told the audience, “I spent a lot of time in my basement office writing alone, so I was thrilled to get feedback from readers, and especially to get feedback that they really liked the book. So thank you thank you thank you to all the kids who voted.”
Veronica Roth was unable to attend, but her editor Katherine Tegen accepted on her behalf, reading a letter from Roth that explained, “I’m doing a happy dance in New Orleans right now where I am enjoying the company of other writers at the Romantic Times convention.” Roth thanked the Children’s Book Council, her publisher, and her fans, “whose enthusiasm and support propelled me through many periods of writers block while working on this book and encourages me daily.”
Author Jarrett J. Krosoczka presented the final award of the evening, the Impact Award, which was given to LeVar Burton for his decades of work on Reading Rainbow. Burton couldn’t attend but expressed his thanks in a video. “I honestly believe that receiving an award like this is much less a reflection on me and more a reflection on the mission of Reading Rainbow these past 30 years. No one knows more than you authors, illustrators, and publishers in the room tonight how imperative it is that we prepare this next generation of children to thrive in the world they will soon inherit.”