Hollins Announces Winner, Honor Book for 2024 Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children’s Literature

Hollins Announces Winner, Honor Book for 2024 Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children’s Literature

Accolades and Awards, Children's Literature

April 23, 2024

Hollins Announces Winner, Honor Book for 2024 Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children’s Literature Margaret Wise Brown Prize 2024 Winners

Hollins University has honored author, illustrator, and art director of children’s books Lucy Ruth Cummins as the recipient of the ninth annual  Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children’s Literature.  

Cummins will receive an engraved medal and a $1,000 cash prize for Our Pool, published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers. Intended for ages four through eight, the picture book is described by the publisher as “a love song to summer, the city, community, and staying cool!”

“We chose Our Pool because of its joyful, lively, and lyrical text that captures every aspect of a single day at a city pool,” announced the judges for this year’s prize—acclaimed children’s book authors Chana Stiefel, winner of the 2023 Margaret Wise Brown Prize for The Tower of Life; Shana Keller Selway, whose books include Bread for Words: A Frederick Douglass Story, The Peach Pit Parade, and Fly, Firefly!; and Derick Wilder, author of the 2022 Margaret Wise Brown Prize Honor Book, The Longest Letsgoboy. “The book struck all the right notes with its humor, diversity, relatability, kid-friendliness, and re-readability. Our Pool is a perfect marriage of words and art, a delightful cannonball as we head into summer!”

A resident of Brooklyn who grew up in Cortland, New York, Cummins is the executive art director of Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, where she has worked for two decades on picture books, middle grade, and young adult novels. Some of her titles as both author and illustrator include A Hungry Lion, or a Dwindling Assortment of Animals; Stumpkin; and Vampenguin. She illustrated several books written by other authors, including Truman by Jean Reidy; Meg Fleming’s Sounds Like School Spirit; and The Rescuer of Tiny Creatures by Curtis Manning. Cummins also authored Sleepy Sheepy, illustrated by Pete Oswald.

 Judges for this year’s Margaret Wise Brown Prize also named one Honor Book: Stranded! A Mostly True Story from Iceland, written by Ævar Þór Benediktsson, illustrated by Anne Wilson, published by Barefoot Books. “The author combines an original voice with a fantastic true story, Icelandic folklore, humor, the science of volcanoes, and a heartfelt grandfather/grandson relationship,” the judges said. “The illustrations are also stunning.”

“I am thrilled by this year’s choices,” stated Elizabeth Dulemba, director of the graduate programs in children’s literature and illustration at Hollins. “Our Pool highlights the simple joys in life that picture books can so elegantly share, while Stranded! A Mostly True Story from Iceland showcases science through an unusual and fun lens.”

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. 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. The Margaret Wise Brown Prize is one of the few children’s book awards that has a cash prize attached—those prizes are made possible by an endowed fund created by James “Pebbles” Rockefeller, Brown’s fiancé at the time of her death.

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 with an original linocut certificate designed and donated by Ashley Wolff, author and/or illustrator of over 50 children’s books and visiting associate professor in the university’s graduate programs in children’s literature and illustration.

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 in the study and writing of children’s literature; a graduate-level certificate in children’s book illustration; and an M.F.A. in children’s book writing and illustrating with both summer and new, year-round programming options.

Hollins’ will release information on how to submit books for consideration for the 2025 Margaret Wise Brown Prize this fall. Please email Elizabeth Dulemba at dulembaeo@hollins.edu to be added to the announcement list.