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The Super Bowl of Kids' Books


I didn’t watch the Super Bowl. Instead, I went to a baby shower. It was the ultimate in counter-programming. So, while everyone was getting outraged over turnovers and Groupon commercials, I was painting my own onesie (with, well, mixed results).

While I won’t be hired to become a baby fashion designer anytime soon, I was much, much more successful at the shower’s other activity: choosing a book for the new baby’s library. The shower organizers had us each pick up our favorite childhood storybooks and personalize them with custom-made bookplates. I highly recommend this for all future parents, because kids’ books are awesome and it was a great conversation-starter.

Of course, you don’t have to look far to find some amazing children’s authors. There are dozens living right here. And, it seems, they’re getting more and more decorated every day.

Earlier this year, the American Library Association announced its prestigious Youth Media Awards. I was not surprised to find some neighbors on the list.

To start with, the Hartsdale-based Eric Velasquez took home the Pura Belpré (Illustrator) Award, which honors “a Latino illustrator whose children’s books best portray, affirm, and celebrate the Latino cultural experience.” He won for the book Grandma’s Gift, the companion book to Grandma’s Records, about a boy’s visit to his Grandmother’s house in Spanish Harlem and their mutual appreciation for fine art. I suspect that even if you know nothing about the Latino cultural experience, anyone with warm feelings for grandparents can appreciate this one.

The next award went to our resident “genius,” Peter Sís of Irvington, previous recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship (also known as the “genius grant”). Sís was chosen for the May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Award, which is sort of like the lifetime achievement. That means that, basically, all his books are great.

Finally, this year the Coretta Scott King (Illustrator) Book Honor went to Jimi Sounds Like a Rainbow: A Story of the Young Jimi Hendrix. Unfortunately, the illustrator, Javaka Steptoe, is not one of our own. But the book was written by Ossining resident Gary Golio, and there would be nothing to excellently illustrate if he didn’t write it.

See more ALA winners here. Any other favorite kids’ books written by locals? Let me know in the comments.


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