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The Wilder Award honors an author or illustrator whose books, published in the United States, have made, over a period of years, a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children.




2015 Medal Winner

Donald Crews is the winner of the 2015 Laura Ingalls Wilder Award honoring an author or illustrator, published in the United States, whose books have made a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children. His numerous works include “Ten Black Dots,” Greenwillow Books, a division of William Morrow & Company, Inc., 1968 and “Freight Train,” Greenwillow Books, 1978.
Photo of Donald Crews“With his ground-breaking concept books, Donald Crews respects children and their insights. He trusts young children to understand what his works offers,” Wilder Award Committee Chair Karen Nelson Hoyle said.
Crews was born in Newark N.J. to a dressmaker and railroad trackman.  He graduated from Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York City in 1959. He later married author/artist/designer Ann Jonas in1964. They have two daughters, Nina and Amy. His first book, “We Read: A to Z,” was published in 1967 and is still in print.  
Crews’ award-winning works include “Freight Train,” which was named Caldecott Honor Book in 1979 and “Truck,” which won a Caldecott Honor in 1981.
Crews has elevated books for very young children to an art form. His bold illustrations raise the ordinary into stylized representations.  The ingenious use of design and color has made his works both dynamic and accessible, especially to toddlers. Crews remains popular with young children generation after generation. He has been consistently excellent with a wide range of titles, such as “Harbor,” “Parade,” “Truck,” “Shortcut” and “Bigmama’s,” all published by Greenwillow Books.
With swift, linear patterns and colors, Crews conveys anticipation and depicts the motion and exhilaration of a passing train.  “Freight Train” introduces basic concepts through boldly colored, accurately named train cars.  He builds excitement with the ever-increasing speed of the train until only smoke is left in its wake. 
Members of the 2015 Laura Ingalls Wilder Award Committee are: Chair Karen Nelson Hoyle, Emerita, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, Minn.; Christopher A. Brown, Free Library of Philadelphia; Kathleen T. Horning, Cooperative Children's Book Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Jane B. Marino, The Nyack (N.Y.) Library; and Ellen Hunter Ruffin, deGrummond Children’s Literature Collection, University of Southern Mississippi.