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Bao Phi wins 2018 Charlotte Zolotow Award for ‘A Different Pond’

January 12, 2018

“A Different Pond,” written by Bao Phi and illustrated by Thi Bui, is the winner of the 21st annual Charlotte Zolotow Award for outstanding writing in a picture book.

The award is given by UW-Madison’s Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC), which is part of the School of Education.

A Different Pond book cover“A Different Pond” was edited by Kristen Mohn and published in the United State in 2017 by Capstone Young Readers, a Capstone imprint. A graceful accounting of details shapes Bao Phi’s exquisitely crafted text in which a Vietnamese American boy goes on a predawn fishing outing with his dad. The beautifully weighted sentences (“I feel the bag of minnows move. They swim like silver arrows in my hand.”) describe their time together and also the experience of an immigrant child (“A kid at my school says my dad’s English sounds like a thick, dirty river. But to me his English sounds like gentle rain.”); a hard-working family’s economic hardship (“‘If you got another job why do we still have to fish for food?’ I ask.”); and bittersweet memory as the boy’s dad recalls fishing at a similar pond as a child in Vietnam with his brother, who died during the war. Running through it all is the boy’s contentment spending time with his dad, a pleasure that extends to feelings about his entire family when they gather at day’s end.

Illustrations masterfully and movingly reveal details of character, setting, and action while superbly reflecting the warmth and intimacy of the story.

The 2018 Zolotow Award committee named five Honor Books: “Baby Goes to Market,” written by Atinuke, illustrated by Angela Brooksbank, U.S. editor Allison Cole, published in the U.S. by Candlewick Press; “Buster and the Baby,” written by Amy Hest, illustrated by Polly Dunbar, edited by Sarah Ketchersid, and published by Candlewick Press; “Herbert’s First Halloween,” written by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Steven Henry, edited by Melissa Manlove, and published by Chronicle Books; “Jabari Jumps,” written and illustrated by Gaia Cornwall, edited by Katie Cunningham, and published by Candlewick Press; and “Niko Draws a Feeling,” written by Bob Raczka, illustrated by Simone Shin, edited by Anna Cavallo, and published by Carolrhoda Books, a division of Lerner Publishing.

The 2018 Zolotow Award committee also cited eight titles as Highly Commended: “All the Way to Havana,” written by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Mike Curato (Godwin Books/Henry Holt /Macmillan); “Before She Was Harriet,” written by Lesa Cline-Ransome, illustrated by James Ransome (Holiday House); “Big Cat, Little Cat,” written and illustrated by Elisha Cooper (Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan); “In the Middle of Fall,” written by Kevin Henkes, illustrated by Laura Dronzek (Greenwillow Books/HarperCollins); “Little Wolf’s First Howling,” written by Laura McGee Kvasnosky, illustrated by Laura McGee Kvasnosky and Kate Harvey McGee (Candlewick Press); “The One Day House,” written by Julia Durango, illustrated by Bianca Diaz (Charlesbridge); “Round,” written by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Taeeun Yoo (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt); and “When’s My Birthday?” written by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Christian Robinson (A Neal Porter Book/Roaring Brook Press/Macmillan).

Established in 1998, the Charlotte Zolotow Award honors the work of Charlotte Zolotow, a distinguished children's book editor for 38 years with Harper Junior Books, and author of more than 70 picture books, including such classic works as “Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present” (Harper, 1962) and “William's Doll” (Harper, 1972). Zolotow attended UW-Madison on a writing scholarship from 1933 to 1936, where she studied with Professor Helen C. White. Zolotow died in November 2013 at the age of 98.

The award is given annually for outstanding writing in a picture book for children in the birth through age 7 range and published in the United States in the preceding year.

Members of the 2018 Zolotow Award committee were: Megan Schliesman, chair (Librarian, Cooperative Children’s Book Center, Madison, Wisconsin); Crystal Brunelle (Library Media Specialist, Northern Hills Elementary School, Onalaska, Wisconsin); Linda DeCramer (Children’s Librarian, Ripon Public Library, Ripon, Wisconsin); Ben Kaker (Teacher, Crestwood Elementary School, Madison, Wisconsin); Tessa Michaelson Schmidt (Youth and Inclusive Services Consultant, Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, Madison, Wisconsin); and Madeline Tyner (Librarian, Cooperative Children’s Book Center, Madison, Wisconsin).

The Cooperative Children's Book Center is a non-circulating library for adults with a professional, career or academic interest in children's and young adult literature. The Friends of the CCBC, Inc., sponsors of the award event, is a nonprofit organization offering lectures, book sales and other benefits for members, in addition to supporting the work of the Cooperative Children’s Book Center.

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