Hollins Announces Winners of the 2017 Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children’s Literature

MWB Prize Medal
  • The annual award showcases the most distinguished picture book manuscript as selected by a panel of judges.
  • This year’s recipients are Adam Rex for School’s First Day of School and Debbie Levy for I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsberg Makes Her Mark.
  • The Margaret Wise Brown Prize is among the few children’s book honors with a cash award.

Arizona-based author and illustrator Adam Rex is the winner of the second annual Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children’s Literature.

Rex will receive an engraved medal and a $1,000 cash prize for his book School’s First Day of School, illustrated by Christian Robinson and published by Roaring Brook Press. “This charming reversal of first-day-of-school nerves will delight little ones and help put their own anxieties at bay,” said Booklist in its starred review, while School Library Journal called it, “An essential purchase that is simultaneously funny, frank, and soothing. A perfect first day read-aloud.”

Rex’s previous works include the New York Times bestseller Frankenstein Makes a Sandwich, a collection of stories about monsters and their problems. His novel The True Meaning of Smekday was adapted into the DreamWorks film Home in 2014.

This year’s Margaret Wise Brown Honor Book award of $300 goes to Debbie Levy for I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsberg Makes Her Mark, published by Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers.

The 2017 competition was judged by three acclaimed children’s book authors:

  • Phil Bildner, who won the inaugural Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children’s Literature for his book Marvelous Cornelius, which was also a Junior Library Guild Selection and winner of the Parents’ Choice Gold Award.
  • Jane Yolen, co-author of the 2016 Margaret Wise Brown Honor Book You Nest Here With Me as well as more than 350 other books that have garnered two Nebula Awards, the World Fantasy Award, a National Book Award nomination, and the Golden Kite Award.
  • Heidi E.Y. Stemple, co-author of the 2016 Margaret Wise Brown Honor Book You Nest Here With Me and many others.

Hollins University 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 Amanda Cockrell, director of the children’s literature program 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. Winners are invited to accept the award and present a reading on campus during the summer session of Hollins’ graduate program in children’s literature.

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 and this year celebrates its 25th anniversary. 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 2018 Margaret Wise Brown Prize.