This year’s winner is “Somos como las nubes/We Are Like the Clouds” written by Jorge Argueta, published by Groundwood Books/House of Anansi Press. Jorge Argueta will accept the award and the $1,000 prize, courtesy of Lee Bennett Hopkins, at Penn State this fall.
In few words and brief poems, Argueta is able to capture the safety of home and the mundane with the pain of not knowing what awaits on the other side. A refugees' journey is a difficult topic to present in poetry, but Argueta's words are able to balance the struggles, happiness, uncertainty, sadness, fears, and the mixture of feelings that the child narrator experiences. The pictures perfectly complement the rich poetry.
In Somos como las nubes /We are Like the Clouds, the reader is pulled into the story visually from the beautiful illustrations and rhythmically from the poetic language. The bilingual aspect adds authenticity to the story and connectivity for more children.
Somos como las nubes /We are Like the Clouds helps bring the idea of immigration to a more personal and relatable reality by beautifully expressing hardships, uncertainty and hope.
The poems are imaginative, musical, and beautiful, conveying a message of empathy and hope that is powerful and significant. The bilingual format makes these poems accessible to more children than any single language book could reach.
Argueta takes young readers on the harrowing and heartwarming journey of so many children. In musical language we experience the emotional range of migration—from gangs to the ultimate destination of American. The imagery of clouds threads through a story told with rhyme, repetition, and wonderful pacing.
Additionally, judges gave an honor award to “Garvey’s Choice” by Nikki Grimes published by WordSong, an imprint of Highlights. According to one judge, “Garvey's Choice is a coming of age story that walks the reader through the trials, emotions and joys of dealing with school and family. Readers will be rooting for Garvey as he bravely faces bullies, family expectations and finding his own path.” And from another, “In a compact volume, brief tanka poems show the emotional growth of the protagonist, as he accepts himself, and discovers unexpected connections with family members and friends. Both the subject matter and beauty of the language offer young readers a message of hope.”
Grimes has crafted a story of self-determination and self-discovery, one with which many children readers can connect. There is emotion in almost every page.
Nikki Grimes’ poetry in Garvey’s Choice is succinct and powerful. In the story, readers experience a continuum of emotions from varied perspectives.
Garvey's Choice is a coming of age story that walks the reader through the trials, emotions and joys of dealing with school and family. Readers will be rooting for Garvey as he bravely faces bullies, family expectations and finding his own path.
In a compact volume, brief tanka poems show the emotional growth of the protagonist, as he accepts himself, and discovers unexpected connections with family members and friends. Both the subject matter and beauty of the language offer young readers a message of hope.
Each tanka poem offers a glimpse into the day-to-day life of Garvey. Collectively these poems offer a coming of age story for a wide readership. Garvey’s interest in science fiction, space, and music are woven seamlessly into the narrative.
25th Anniversary Event
The Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award is named for the internationally renowned educator, poet, anthologist and passionate advocate of poetry for young people. Established in 1993, the award is presented annually to an American poet or anthologist for the most outstanding new book of poetry for children published in the previous calendar year.
Selected by a panel of authors, librarians, teachers and scholars, the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award was the first award of its kind in the United States. The Pennsylvania Center for the Book, the Penn State University Libraries, and Lee Bennett Hopkins share joint administration of the annual award.