Gryphon Award

2021 Gryphon Award

We are pleased to announce that See the Cat: Three Stories About a Dog written by David LaRochelle and illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka has won the 2021 Gryphon Award; the committee also named four honor books. The award is given annually in recognition of an English language work of fiction or non-fiction for which the primary audience is children in Kindergarten through Grade 4. The title chosen best exemplifies those qualities that successfully bridge the gap in difficulty between books for reading aloud to children and books for practiced readers. More information about the award, including submission guidelines, can be found here. Past winners and honors can be found here.

Winner

See the Cat cover imageLaRochelle, David. See the Cat: Three Stories About a Dog; illus. by Mike Wohnoutka. Penguin Random House, 2020.
The goofy, rib-nudging absurdity starts right from the ironic title in See the Cat: Three Stories about a Dog, a book in which Max the dog battles with the text that defines his world, learning its power and figuring out how to change it (inserting a “not” in the sentence “The mad snake is going to bite the dog” or threatening to walk if he’s sat on by a purple hippo as the text describes). The stories are couched in unassuming, repetitive beginning-reader language, and the fun lies in the book’s winking through its traditional disguise (abetted by Wohnoutka’s old-school friendly illustrations) to novice readers, whose sense of humor almost always outpaces their literary skills. It’s a book that draws readers’ attention to the mechanics of narrative while snickering companionably to them about the whims of storytelling.

Honor Books

Being Frog cover imageSayre, April Pulley. Being Frog; written and illus. with photographs by April Pulley Sayre. Beach Lane/Simon, 2020.
This photoessay melds scientific discipline, poetic imagination, and beautifully executed visual storytelling as it tracks the life cycle and day to day existence of the frog.

 

Donut Feed the Squirrels cover image

Song, Mika. Donut Feed the Squirrels; written and illus. by Mika Song. Random House Graphic, 2020.
Five breezy chapters constitute this easy-reader graphic novel that tracks squirrel pals Belly and Norma and their attempts to get themselves some sweet treats from a nearby donut truck.

 

Knot Cannot cover imageStone, Tiffany. Knot Cannot; illus. by Mike Lowery. Dial, 2020.
Knot wants desperately to be as cool as Snake in this playful literacy lesson; the story pulls double duty with a reassuring message about appreciating one’s own strengths while stealthily cheering on young readers with a supportive framework.

 

Cat ears for Elizabeth cover image

Vail, Rachel. Cat Ears on Elizabeth; illus. by Paige Keiser. Feiwel, 2020.
In this funny, keenly observed entry from the A Is for Elizabeth series, second grade goes sour for Elizabeth when some girls start wearing cat-ear headbands, which she covets.

 

 

This year’s award committee consists of Deborah Stevenson, editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books; Kate Quealy-Gainer, assistant editor of The Bulletin; and Elizabeth Bush, reviewer at The Bulletin, iSchool adjunct faculty member, and longtime school librarian. The award is sponsored by CCB and funded by CCB’s Gryphon Fund. Income from the fund supports the annual Gryphon Lecture as well as the Gryphon Award for children’s literature. Gifts may be made to the fund by contacting Jill Gengler in the iSchool Advancement Office at (217) 265-6252 or gengler@illinois.edu.