The Children's Literature Association Proudly Announces the 2018 Phoenix Award Recipient:

Restless Spirit: The Life and Work of Dorothea Lange by Elizabeth Partridge
Viking, 1998


Elizabeth Partridge’s Restless Spirit: The Life and Work of Dorothea Lange offers a stunning portrait of the pioneering photographer who made visible  the wrenching dislocations of families and children in mid-twentieth-century America. Though sympathetic to Lange, whom she knew, Partridge does  not idealize this complex woman. She unflinchingly portrays Lange’s determination to become a photographer, her conflicts between her roles as  mother and artist, her sometimes difficult temperament, and her social activism. Meticulously researched, elegantly designed, and expertly curated to  display Lange’s art, this biography creates an interplay of word and image that enriches our understanding of the moving photographs of  sharecroppers, migrants, Japanese internees, and others whose lives Lange brilliantly illuminated.

The Children's Literature Association Proudly Announces the 2018 Phoenix Picture Book Award Recipient:

Cendrillon: A Caribbean Cinderella by Robert D. San Souci & Brian Pinkney
Simon & Schuster, 1998

Told from the perspective of Cendrillon’s doting godmother, the colorful text of this French Creole “Cinderella” story is matched by the vibrant illustrations. The use of warm colors enlivens the story and contributes, along with the French and Creole words, phrases, and delicacies, to its distinctly Caribbean atmosphere. The warm color palette also reflects the warm, loving tone of the godmother, even as the thick lines and heavy textures of the mixed media illustrations capture some of the weightier elements of the story, such as the idea that “magic must be used to help someone you love” and Cendrillon’s feminist choice to be reunited with her beloved in her everyday shift and shawl rather than her ball gown. Beyond these gentle messages befitting a story with roots in Charles Perrault’s version of “Cinderella,” energy pours forth in the active scenes of scrubbing, dancing, and scurrying through the marketplace, as well as in the spirited narration of a godmother with her own personality eager to help her goddaughter and to share the story of her success. The Caribbean setting, the innovative pictorial points of view, and the inset pictures in borders made of plants and flowers are very impressive.  It is a fanciful version of Perrault’s “Cinderella” that works well in another setting and, with its absorbing scratchboard illustrations, is much deserving of this year’s award. 

2018 Phoenix Picture Book Honor Book

You Can't Take A Balloon Into the Metropolitan Museum by Jacqueline Preiss Weitzman Robin Preiss Glasser
Dial, 1998

This wonderful wordless book depicts an engrossing day at the Metropolitan Museum between grandmother and granddaughter who enjoy famous works of art while, unbeknownst to them, a mad romp through the city ensues to retrieve the granddaughter’s balloon. This graceful, funny story strikes a fascinating balance of visual forms, juxtaposing seminal moments in “high” art with similar moments done as expressive comics, and does all this using a delicate switching between black and white and color images.  Along with the tour of New York City and the Metropolitan Museum, the book also offers a seamless story that builds to a delightful crescendo at the opera house.  Wordless, like the mime who ultimately saves the day, this book is a silent masterpiece.  Perry Nodelman has stated, in Words about Pictures, that if picture books should have any purposes at all, one of the main purposes should be to teach something about visual literacy.  This book achieves that goal on many levels.   



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