The winners of two awards by The Bank Street Center for Children’s Literature were announced. The Cook Prize is given to the best STEM picture book for 8-10 year-olds and is selected by children. The Irma Simonton Black and James H. Black Award is given to “an outstanding book for young children—a book in which text and illustrations are inseparable, each enhancing and enlarging on the other to produce a singular whole.” Here are the winners and honor books:
COOK PRIZE WINNER
Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13 by Helaine Becker, illustrated Dow Phumiruk
COOK PRIZE HONORS
Fossil by Fossil: Comparing Dinosaur Bones by Sara Levine, illustrated by T.S. Spookytooth
If Polar Bears Disappeared by Lily Williams
Nothing Stopped Sophie: The Story of Unshakable Mathematician Sophie Germain by Cheryl Bardoe; illustrated by Barbara McClintock
IRMA BLACK AWARD WINNER
We Don’t Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins
IRMA BLACK HONORS
Stumpkin by Lucy Ruth Cummins
Sun! One in a Billion by Stacy McAnulty, illustrated by Stevie Lewis
The Wall in the Middle of the Book by Jon Agee
Comics Will Break Your Heart by Faith Erin Hicks (9781626723641)
When Miriam meets Weldon at her bookstore job, she doesn’t realize at first who he is. The grandson of the creator of the TomorrowMen comic book empire, he is wealthy and lives is California. Miriam on the other hand comes from a family without a lot of money and is trying to figure out how to leave her small town to go to college. The two of them have a connection though since it was Miriam’s grandfather who drew the first TomorrowMen comics. As the two of them navigate the perils of two families who have battled one another in court, Miriam becomes more sure of what she wants from her life. Weldon, stuck in rural Canada to get his life back on track, tries his best to be more stable and less impulsive. The two teenagers drift in and out of connection with one another but can’t seem to quite leave one another entirely. It’s Romeo and Juliet reworked to focus on modern comic geeks.
This is Hicks’ first novel, having created several comic books for children and teens. Readers who themselves identify as being “geeks” and in particular comic book geeks, will thoroughly enjoy the banter about comics, the obsessive nature of geek love, and the beauty of two geeks finding one another despite the world trying to keep them apart. The book is filled with humor and yet still offers deep emotions and a look at how one generation’s decisions echo forward to their offspring.
The book takes a look at growing up in rural Canada and has quite a few nods to Canadian life throughout the text. The desire to get out of a rural setting and move to a new place where you don’t know everyone is also an emotion that a lot of rural teens will relate to easily. Add in the appeal of comic books and a visit to Comic-Con and this is a book with a large audience who will root for the two teens.
A funny and warm look at geek love, this is a charming teen novel. Appropriate for ages 12-15.
Reviewed from copy provided by Roaring Brook Press.