Following in the heels of last year’s inaugural award recipient Rita Meade, children’s book author-illustrator Dan Santat has been named the winner of the second annual Anna Dewdney Read Together Award for his picture book After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again) from Roaring Book Press.
The honor, presented by Penguin Young Readers, the Children’s Book Council, and Every Child a Reader, is given each year to a read-aloud picture book that sparks compassion, empathy, and connection. The award is named for author-illustrator Dewdney, best known for her Llama Llama picture book series, who died in September 2016 at the age of 50.
After the Fall tells the story of Humpty Dumpty from the title character’s perspective; “Dan Santat’s goal was to give readers the feeling of rising up alongside Humpty and experiencing the same sense of triumph when Humpty climbs back up at the end and finds himself changed forever,” said Connie Hsu, executive editor at Roaring Brook Press. “Dan also focused on using the page turns as mini moments to pause and reflect, letting the words sink in and take on new meaning before each new scene.”
After the Fall was inspired by Santat’s wife Leah, who had sought recovery after struggling with anxiety. “This is a story that [Dan and Leah] both openly share, and their greatest hope is to see their message of resilience, strength, and understanding in After the Fall reach readers young and old—to let them know they are not alone,” Hsu added.
A book launch and award event will take place at Vroman’s Bookstore in Pasadena, Calif., on May 5, in conjunction with Children’s Book Week. Santat will be awarded a $1,000 prize from the Children’s Book Council. In addition, Penguin Young Readers will purchase and donate 250 copies of After the Fall to a school, library, or literacy organization of his choice. At the Vroman’s event, Santat will also sign copies of his latest illustrated work, Dude!, written by Aaron Reynolds.
For Santat, receiving the Dewdney Award represents a poignant moment in the Caldecott Medalist’s professional life. “I had the pleasure of meeting Anna at a book event [in 2005] when we were both at the very beginning of our careers,” he recalled. “We briefly had the same literary agent and our discussion started out with that in common, along with our insecurities and hopes for our futures in our, at the time, very young publishing careers. Neither of us would have believed you, if you told us that at that moment, I would be accepting an award named after her 13 years later. She was an amazing person and it’s wonderful to receive an award that honors her and her spirit.”
To showcase the Dewdney award, Penguin Random House has released a video tribute to Dewdney and her work. Today also marks the release of the latest book in the Llama Llama series, Llama Llama Loves to Read.