“Marvelous Cornelius” Author Phil Bildner Receives the Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children’s Literature

Hollins University honored the winner of the inaugural Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children’s Literature with a medal ceremony during the 2016 Francelia Butler Conference on July 23.

Hollins established the prize in tribute to one of its best-known alumnae and one of America’s most beloved children’s authors. 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.

Phil Bildner, a former New York City public school teacher who has written more than 20 children’s books, is the award’s first recipient. The author of Marvelous Cornelius received a $1,000 cash prize, which comes from an endowed fund created by James Rockefeller, Brown’s fiancé at the time of her death. Bildner was also presented an engraved medal conceived by award-winning sculptor, painter, and Hollins alumna Betty Branch of Roanoke.

“Margaret Wise Brown said, ‘A good picture book can almost be whistled….All have their own melodies behind the storytelling,’” said judges Elissa Haden Guest and Judy Schachner in a statement. “In that spirit, we award the Margaret Wise Brown Prize to Phil Bildner for Marvelous Cornelius, a book about a simple, musical man who inspired the cleanup of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.” Illustrated by John Parra and published by Chronicle Books, Marvelous Cornelius is geared toward children ages 4 – 7.

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.

Photo: Phil Bildner receives the Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children’s Literature medal from Hollins President Nancy Gray.


Conference’s New Award Recognizes Founding Director of Children’s Literature Studies at Hollins

Amy Deligdisch (left) and Jessi Cole Jackson (right), co-chairs of the 2016 Francelia Butler Conference, with Amanda Cockrell, founding director of the graduate programs in children’s literature at Hollins.

Hollins University’s Francelia Butler Conference (FBC), a one-day, student-run conference dedicated to celebrating children’s literature, is presenting a new prize this year in honor of the founding director of Hollins’ graduate programs in children’s literature.

The Amanda Cockrell Award joins already established $100 prizes that highlight the creativity, diversity of talent, and drive of Hollins’ children’s literature graduate students.

“When considering all that Amanda has poured into this program from the beginning and all she has done for its students, naming the award after her was the obvious choice,” said Amy Deligdisch, a children’s literature graduate student and co-chair of FBC for 2016. “Over the years she has counseled us, taught us, guided us, answered a million questions, sent a thousand emails, and kept track of dozens of students at once. We salute her for creating a program that has become a safe haven to so many of us, a home away from home.”

With R.H.W. Dillard, Cockrell founded the program in 1992, one of the first of its kind in the country devoted exclusively to the study and writing of children’s and young adult literature. Today, students may pursue an M.A. or M.F.A. in children’s literature, an M.F.A. in children’s book writing and illustration, or a certificate in children’s book illustration.

The FBC offers graduate students the opportunity to submit creative and critical papers for critique by a panel of distinguished judges. The Shirley Henn Award is given to the top piece in the categories Critical Writing and Creative Writing: Long Form. Students may also submit original artwork to the conference’s art show and compete for the Margaret Kates Award in the Illustration category. The Cockrell Award honors students in a fourth category, Creative Writing: Short Form, which encompasses works such as picture books and poetry.

Another FBC tradition, a silent auction, helps raise funds for future conferences. According to Deligdisch’s fellow conference co-chair, Jessi Cole Jackson, who is also a children’s literature graduate student, “Last year’s silent auction was so successful that it will not only fund the 2016 conference, but also support ten years of a new award category. By dividing the Creative Writing award into Long Form and Short Form, novel excerpts and short stories no longer have to be judged beside shorter works. Authors will now have the chance to have their work considered in comparison to siblings instead of cousins.”

This year’s FBC takes place on Saturday, July 23, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Niederer Auditorium, Wetherill Visual Arts Center. Admission is free and open to the public. The keynote speaker for this year’s event is Marah Gubar, who teaches and writes about children’s literature from a variety of periods, but is especially interested in 19th– and 20th-century representations of childhood and the history of children’s theatre. Her book Artful Dodgers: Reconceiving the Golden Age of Children’s Literature won the Children’s Literature Association’s Book Award. She is associate professor of English at MIT and previously directed the children’s literature program at the University of Pittsburgh.

 


Beloved Picture Book Characters Adorn the Hollins Campus this Summer

Ferdinand the Bull, Eyeore, Pooh and Piglet, Mister Toad from Wind in the Willows, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and The Runaway Bunny and his Mama have all found a home at Hollins this summer.

Acclaimed illustrator Ashley Wolff, who teaches in Hollins’ graduate-level certificate program in children’s book illustration, has created cutouts of both classic and contemporary picture book characters and placed them around campus for the Summer 2016 Term, which runs through July 29.

“I’ve had these in mind for several years, and last year I finally got serious about finding a material to make them from,” she explained.

Wolff is the author and/or illustrator of over 50 children’s picture books including Baby Beluga, Stella and Roy Go Camping, Me Baby, You Baby, Who Took the Cookies from the Cookie Jar?, Mama’s Milk, and the Miss Bindergarten series. Her artwork has been exhibited widely in national shows and her books have won numerous state and national awards. She lives and works in San Francisco.

 


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

  • The annual award showcases the most distinguished picture book manuscript as selected by a panel of judges.
  • This year’s recipients are Phil Bildner for his book Marvelous Cornelius, and Jane Yolen and Heidi E.Y. Stemple, co-authors of You Nest Here With Me.
  • The Margaret Wise Brown Prize is among the few children’s book honors with a cash award.

A former New York City public school teacher who has written more than 20 children’s books has been named the winner of the first annual Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children’s Literature.

“Margaret Wise Brown said, ‘A good picture book can almost be whistled….All have their own melodies behind the storytelling,’” said judges Elissa Haden Guest and Judy Schachner. “In that spirit, we award the Margaret Wise Brown Prize to Phil Bildner for Marvelous Cornelius,” a book about a simple, musical man who inspired the cleanup of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Illustrated by John Parra and published by Chronicle Books, Marvelous Cornelius is geared toward children ages 4 – 7.

Guest, who has written numerous children’s books including Bella’s Rules and the award-winning Iris and Walter series, and Schachner, creator of the Skippyjon Jones picture book series, also presented authors Jane Yolen and Heidi E.Y. Stemple with the Margaret Wise Brown Prize Honor Book for their work, You Nest Here With Me, a lyrical goodnight book illustrated by Melissa Sweet and published by Boyds Mills Press.

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. Winners receive a $1,000 cash prize, which comes from 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.

Winners also receive an engraved medal conceived by award-winning sculptor, painter, and Hollins alumna Betty Branch of Roanoke. Winners and Honor Book recipients are presented a certificate designed 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. 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.

 

How to submit books for consideration for the 2017 Margaret Wise Brown Prize:

The deadline for submission for books published in 2016 is January 15, 2017. A three-judge panel, consisting of established picture book authors, will review the nominations and choose a winner, which will be announced in May 2017.

 


“Goodnight Moon: The Magical Musical” Returns to the Hollins Theatre Stage

Hollins Theatre is opening its 2015-16 season with a revival of Goodnight Moon: The Magical Musical. The show, which is intended for children of all ages, runs October 10 – 18.

Goodnight Moon is based on the beloved children’s book by Margaret Wise Brown, a member of Hollins’ class of 1932. The classic story of a bunny who won’t go to sleep was first published in 1945 and went on to sell millions of copies around the world.  The musical adaptation by Chad Henry first appeared on the Hollins Theatre stage in 2011 as the inaugural production of the Hollins Legacy Series, which was created to bring the work of Hollins writers to the stage.

“When this tale was received with such tremendous enthusiasm, we decided to turn it into a Hollins tradition, with multiple productions over years to come,” said Ernie Zulia, director of the Hollins Theatre Institute. “It is our hope that each new crop of youngsters in the Roanoke Valley will bring their favorite grownups to Hollins Theatre for an experience they will long remember.”

Zulia estimated that about 4,000 school children, families, “and people of all conceivable demographics” saw Goodnight Moon during its 2011 run. “Add that number to what we hope will be thousands in the years to come, and it makes us mighty proud to play our part in this phenomenal math equation that illustrates how one author can affect the lives of so many.”

Zulia noted that there are currently over 14 million copies of Goodnight Moon in print in multiple languages around the globe. “Consider the number of times a single owner of a copy has urged a parent or loving adult to read and re-read the bedtime story aloud, and then multiply that by 14 million. Add to that the number of times the book has been opened by a child who can recite it from memory while gazing at Clement Hurd’s iconic illustrations, not to mention the number of children who reach for their favorite book as a reading primer over and over and over, and you can easily imagine a number that reaches far into the billions. That’s how often this simple little story has come alive in the world.”

Goodnight Moon: The Magical Musical will be presented on Hollins Theatre’s main stage on Saturday, October 10, at 11 a.m.; Thursday and Friday, October 15 and 16, at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, October 17, at 11 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.; and Sunday, October 18, at 2 p.m. Tickets are $5 for children, $10 for adults. Current Hollins students, faculty, and staff will receive one free ticket. For online ticket sales and more information, visit www.hollins.edu/theatre. Or, call the Hollins Theatre box office at (540) 362-6517 for more information.

 


Hollins Professor Wins Environmental Stewardship Book Honor

Children’s book author and illustrator Elizabeth Dulemba, an associate professor at Hollins University, has received a Green Earth Book Award Honor for her work, A Bird on Water Street.

The Green Earth Book Award is the first environmental stewardship book award in the nation for children’s and young adult books. Over 80 winning and honor books have been recognized since 2005. Each year, an expert jury selects books that best convey the message of environmental stewardship in the categories of Picture Book, Children’s Fiction, Young Adult Fiction, Children’s Nonfiction, and Young Adult Nonfiction.

“This book is ten years in the making and began when my husband and I moved to the North Georgia Mountains where the story takes place,” Dulemba wrote on her website. “We were invited to a town meeting where a scenic railway was being discussed. It was to be funded by one shipment of sulfuric acid per week from the then closed copper mine. Miners stood up like bent and gnarled trees in their flannel and denim, sharing heart-breaking stories of loss from the cancers believed to be caused by the mines. They made thinly veiled threats that the tracks would be sabotaged if plans moved forward. I sat in shock, wondering what I had stumbled into.

“The story chose me to write it that night. I did dozens of interviews with miners, families and residents of ‘The Red Hills’—a 50-square-mile area devoid of all vegetation from a century of poor copper mining practices. (Astronauts said they could see the devastation from the space shuttle.)

“Ten years later, the book is a testament to growing up in the moon-like, yet close-knit community in 1986, and the efforts toward reclamation which continue to this day. It’s a story of man’s impact on our environment, and hope for our future as better stewards of this Earth.”

Published by Little Pickle Press in the spring of 2014 and geared toward fourth through eighth graders, A Bird on Water Street has earned numerous other prestigious honors, including the 2014 National Book Festival Featured Title for Georgia; the eLit 2014 Gold Medal in the Environment/Ecology/Nature category; and the Academics’ Choice Award.

At Hollins, Dulemba teaches picture book design in both the certificate in children’s book illustration program and the Master of Fine Arts program in children’s book writing and illustrating.


Hollins Establishes Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children’s Literature

Hollins University is paying tribute to one of its best-known alumnae and one of America’s most beloved children’s authors by creating a literary award in her name.

Presented annually beginning in 2016, the Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children’s Literature will recognize the author of the best text for a picture book published during the previous year. Winners will be given a $1,000 cash prize, which comes from an endowed fund created by James Rockefeller, Brown’s fiancé at the time of her death. Each recipient will also receive an engraved bronze medal as well as an invitation to accept the award and present a reading on campus during the summer session of Hollins’ graduate program in children’s literature.

“The Margaret Wise Brown Award will be 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.

Children’s book publishers are invited to send four copies of each nominated book to the following address for consideration:

Margaret Wise Brown Prize
Graduate Program in Children’s Literature
8060 Quadrangle Lane
Hollins University
Roanoke, VA 24020

The deadline for submission for books published in 2016 is January 15, 2017. A three-judge panel, consisting of established picture book authors, will review the nominations and choose a winner, which will be announced in May 2017.

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.

For more information about the Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children’s Literature, visit www.hollins.edu/mwb.


Two Prestigious “Best of” Lists for 2011 Feature Novel by Children’s Literature Program Director

whatwekeepThe director of Hollins University’s graduate program in children’s literature has received some impressive year-end recognition for her latest book.

Amanda Cockrell’s debut young-adult novel, What We Keep Is Not Always What Will Stay, has been acclaimed as one of the best books of the year for children by The Boston Globe, and has also been named to the Bulletin Blue Ribbons 2011 list from The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books.

In selecting What We Keep for the Globe’s review of the year’s most notable writing for young people, author Liz Rosenberg writes, “Cockrell balances on the knife’s edge between comedy and tragedy. The depth and darkness of her themes makes an absorbing read for older young adults.”

Geared toward readers ages 12 and up, What We Keep is the story of 15-year-old Angie, who falls for a 19-year-old Afghanistan veteran suffering from both physical and emotional trauma. The novel was published by Flux in July 2011.

Along with directing the graduate program in children’s literature at Hollins, Cockrell is managing editor of The Hollins Critic, the university’s literary journal. A native of Ojai, California, she also earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Hollins. Cockrell has published numerous essays, poems, and articles in addition to her novels The Legions of the Mist, The Moonshine Blade, The Deer Dancers trilogy, The Horse Catchers trilogy, and Pomegranate Seed. She has received fiction fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.


“Goodnight Moon” Among Library of Congress’ “Books that Shaped America”

goodnightmoonA classic children’s book by a Hollins-educated author has been named one of the 88 “Books that Shaped America” by the Library of Congress.

Goodnight Moon by 1932 Hollins graduate Margaret Wise Brown is among the books ”reflecting America’s unique and extraordinary literary heritage,” according to the Library. An exhibition showcasing the list is kicking off the Library’s multiyear “Celebration of the Book.”

Published in 1947, Goodnight Moon has become the quintessential bedtime story, selling more than 11 million copies worldwide (the book has been translated into French, Spanish, Hebrew, Swedish, and Hmong). The New York Public Library named Goodnight Moon one of its “Books of the Century” in 1996.

Hollins celebrated Brown’s life and work with a yearlong festival that began in June 2011. It included the Hollins Theatre’s production of the musical stage adaptation of Goodnight Moon and a performance of the classical lullaby based on the book by the Hollins University Concert Choir and the Valley Chamber Orchestra. Hollins’ Eleanor D. Wilson Museum is featuring original illustrations from Goodnight Moon in its exhibition, “Goodnight, Hush: Classic Children’s Book Illustrations,” which continues through September 15.

The Library of Congress’ ”Books That Shaped America” exhibition will be on view through September 29 in the Southwest Gallery, located on the second floor of the Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C., from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday. This exhibition is made possible through the support of the National Book Festival Fund.


Hollins Launches Nation’s First Graduate Degree in Children’s Book Writing and Illustrating

bear In the summer of 2014, Hollins University is introducing a graduate degree in children’s book writing and illustrating, the first such program of its kind in the country.

An addition to Hollins’ summer Master of Arts (M.A.) and Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) programs in the study and writing of children’s literature, and the university’s Certificate in Children’s Book Illustration, the new M.F.A. will enable students who want to both write and illustrate children’s books to earn a master’s degree with concentrated training in both disciplines.

“This degree represents a marriage of courses offered through the M.F.A. in children’s literature and the illustration courses offered for the Certificate in Children’s Book Illustration,” explained Ruth Sanderson, program co-director. “The program will run concurrently and in collaboration with those courses.”

Sanderson, who has illustrated more than 80 published children’s books since 1975, added that students will be required to complete 60 credits over a period of four to five summers.

“The programs offer a uniquely diverse community including faculty drawn from the ranks of leading writers, artists and scholars from the field of children’s literature,” she said. “Visits from a nationally known writer-in-residence and an exceptional array of speakers are featured, and there will also be an opportunity to take part in the annual student-organized Francelia Butler Conference on Children’s Literature.”

In their final semester, students will receive a review of their portfolio and personal feedback from an art director in a major New York publishing house.

“Hollins is the first school to establish this much-needed degree for people who want to both write and illustrate children’s books,” Sanderson noted.

The inaugural summer term for the M.F.A. in children’s book writing and illustrating will be held at Hollins starting June 23 and continuing through August 1, 2014. For more information, visit http://www.hollins.edu/grad/cbw/.

(Image above by Ashley Wolff, faculty member)