Hollins University has honored a writer/illustrator/academic from the United Kingdom as the winner of the fifth annual Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children’s Literature.
Wendy Meddour, an internationally best-selling children’s author whose books have been translated into 18 languages, will receive an engraved medal and a $1,000 cash prize for Lubna and Pebble, illustrated by Daniel Egnéus and published by Dial Books. In a story that subtly addresses the refugee crisis, a young girl must decide if friendship means giving up the one item that brings her comfort during a time of uncertainty.
“Lubna and Pebble stands out as exemplary picture book writing,” the judges for this year’s prize stated. “Concise and poignant, its simple words dramatize a child’s resourcefulness and hope in the face of her difficulties as a refugee. That she ultimately transfers her fortitude to another child, in an act of self-denial, is her greatest triumph.”
Time magazine selected Lubna and Pebble as one of the “10 Best YA and Children’s Books of 2019,” while both the New York Public Library and Chicago Public Library placed it on their respective “Best Books” lists for the year. Horn Book noted that “Meddour’s short, simple sentences pack and emotional punch….This tender, understated story honors the emotional resilience of young people.”
Each year, Hollins invites nominations for the prize from children’s book publishers located across the country and around the world. A three-judge panel, consisting of established picture book authors, reviews the nominations and chooses a winner.
Hollins established the Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children’s Literature as a way to pay tribute to one of its best-known alumnae and one of America’s most beloved children’s authors. The cash prizes are made possible by an endowed fund created by James Rockefeller, Brown’s fiancé at the time of her death.
“The Margaret Wise Brown Prize is one of the few children’s book awards that has a cash prize attached,” said Lisa Rowe Fraustino, director of the graduate programs in children’s literature at Hollins.
The engraved medal presented to the winners was conceived by award-winning sculptor, painter, and Hollins alumna Betty Branch of Roanoke. Winners and Honor Book recipients are presented an original linocut certificate designed and donated by Ashley Wolff, author and/or illustrator of over 50 children’s books.
Margaret Wise Brown graduated from Hollins in 1932 and went on to write Goodnight Moon, The Runaway Bunny, and other children’s classics before she died in 1952. Hollins celebrated her life and work with a year-long Margaret Wise Brown Festival in 2011 and 2012, which featured stage and musical adaptations of her work along with readings, workshops, guest lectures, and other activities for all ages.
The study of children’s literature as a scholarly experience was initiated at Hollins in 1973; in 1992, the graduate program in children’s literature was founded. Today, Hollins offers summer M.A. and M.F.A. programs exclusively in the study and writing of children’s literature, an M.F.A. in children’s book writing and illustrating, and a graduate-level certificate in children’s book illustration.
This summer, Hollins’ children’s literature program will release information on how to submit books for consideration for the 2021 Margaret Wise Brown Prize.