Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children’s Literature

Margaret Wise Brown historic photo

The annual award showcases the best picture book manuscript as selected by a panel of judges and will be among the few children’s book honors with a cash prize.


Hollins announces winner of the 2019 Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children’s Literature

Hollins University has honored a first-time author as the winner of the fourth annual Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children’s Literature.

John Sullivan will receive an engraved medal and a $1,000 cash prize for his debut children’s book, Kitten and the Night Watchman, illustrated by Taeeun Yoo and published by Simon & Schuster. The work is inspired by the true story of Sullivan, a City of Chicago buildings and equipment guard, and his encounter with a cat that would become his companion for 17 years.

In the book, a watchman bonds with a stray kitten that keeps him company as he makes his rounds at a construction site. After remaining together through the night, the watchman decides to take the kitten with him when he returns home to his family. Kitten and the Night Watchman was selected as a Best Book of 2018 by The Boston Globe, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, and Bookpage. In its starred review, the Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books said, “This soft, gentle story is a perfect bedtime story for lovers of trucks and construction equipment, cats, and nighttime wanders.”

The judges for this year’s prize also named two Honor Books: Libba: The Magnificent Musical Life of Elizabeth Cotten by Laura Veirs, published by Chronicle Books, and Carmela Full of Wishes by Matt de la Peña, published by Penguin Young Readers. The judges considered both to be “outstanding examples of picture book writing” in the tradition of Margaret Wise Brown.

More Information about the Margaret Wise Brown Prize


About the prize: Recognizes the author of the best text for a picture book published during the previous year. Winners receive:

  • $1,000 cash prize
  • An engraved bronze medal 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.
  • An invitation to accept the award and present a reading on campus during the summer session of Hollins’ graduate program in children’s literature

About the selection process: Hollins will request nominations from children’s book publishers. A three-judge panel, consisting of established picture book authors, will review the nominations and choose a winner.

Margaret Wise Brown Prize medalAbout 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.

About the cash prize: Comes from an endowed fund created by James Rockefeller, Brown’s fiancé at the time of her death.

About Hollins’ graduate program in children’s literature: Summer M.A. and M.F.A. programs exclusively in the study, writing, and illustrating of children’s literature, and a graduate-level certificate in children’s book illustration.