Phoenix Picture Book Award


altEstablished by the ChLA Board in 2010, the Phoenix Picture Book Award is a companion to the original Phoenix Award and recognizes a picture book published twenty years previously that did not win a major award at that time, but that the committee has determined to be of lasting value.  The award is innovative, for unlike most picture book awards, it will honor not only the illustrator, but also the author (if they are two separate people).  Books are considered not only for the quality of their illustrations, but for the way pictures and text work together to tell a story (whether fact or fiction).  Wordless books are judged on the ability of the pictures alone to convey a story.

The Phoenix Picture Book Award is inspired by the Phoenix Award which was designed by Caldecott-winning illustrator Trina Schart Hyman. The magical Phoenix on the award statue was specifically drawn for ChLA. The design was sculpted by Diane Davis, who was trained at the Johnson Atelier and Technical Institute of Sculpture, Princeton. Each brass statue is individually cast and inscribed with the year's winner.

We are now taking nominations for book that were published in 2000 and after.

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

altCendrillon: 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

altYou 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.  


Previous Winners:


Winner:  Robert D. San Souci & Brian Pinkney for Cendrillon: A Caribbean Cinderella (Simon & Schuster, 1998)
Jacqueline Preiss Weitzman & Robin Preiss Glasser for You Can’t Take A Balloon Into the Metropolitan Museum (Dial, 1998)


Winner:Mary McKenna Siddals & Petra Mathers for Tell Me a Season (Clarion Books, 1997)
Honor: Demi for One Grain of Rice: A Mathematical Tale (Scholastic, 1997)

2016 Winner:  Molly Bang for Goose (Blue Sky Press, 1996) - 2016 ChLA Conference Speech by Molly Bang
Honor Winner: Julius Lester and Jerry Pinkney for Sam and the Tigers (Dial Books, 1996)

Winner: Sara Fanelli for My Map Book (HarperCollins, 1995)
Honor Winner: Charlotte Zolotow and Stefano Vitale for When the Wind Stops (HarperCollins, 1995)
Honor Winner: Kady MacDonald Denton for Would They Love a Lion? (Kingfisher, 1995)


Winner: Raymond Briggs for The Bear (Julia Macrae Books, 1994)
Honor Winner: Peggy Rathmann for Good Night, Gorilla (Putnam Juvenile, 1996)
Honor Winner:Anne Isaacs and Paul Zelinksy forSwamp Angel (Putnam and Dutton, 1994)


Winner: Kevin Henkes for Owen (Greenwillow, 1993)
Honor Winner: Denise Fleming for In the Small, Small Pond (Henry Holt and Co., 1993)










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