Grimes, Lewis win 2003 Coretta Scott King Awards

Contact: Paige Wasson


For Immediate Release

January 27, 2003

Grimes, Lewis win 2003 Coretta Scott King Awards

Nikki Grimes, author of "Bronx Masquerade," and E.B. Lewis, illustrator of "Talkin' About Bessie: The Story of Aviator Elizabeth Coleman," are the winners of the 2003 Coretta Scott King Awards honoring African-American authors and illustrators of outstanding books for children and young adults. Janet McDonald, author of "Chill Wind," is the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent (text) Award; and Randy DuBurke, illustrator of "The Moon Ring" is the Steptoe New Talent (illustrator) Award.

The announcements were made January 27 during the American Library Association (ALA) Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia. The Coretta Scott King Awards are administered by the Coretta Scott King Task Force of the ALA's Social Responsibilities Round Table (SRRT).

"Bronx Masquerade," published by Dial Books, a division of Penguin Putnam, is a fast-paced and revealing novel that features the voices of 18 urban youths who share their innermost feelings in their open-mic poetry presentations. Set in a Bronx high school, Grimes' characters are developed through short monologues paired with self-revealing poetry.

"Grimes boldly offers a glimpse into the heart and suffering of each student, who, like many contemporary youth, struggle to discover their identity," said Award Committee Chair Fran Ware. "The book's realistic and edgy portrayal of urban youth is hopeful and positive."

Born and raised in New York City, and now living in the Los Angeles area, Grimes is an acclaimed poet, novelist and educator. Her book "Jazmin's Notebook" is a past Coretta Scott King Honor Book, and "My Blue Man" and "Come Sunday" also have received acclaim. Grimes has traveled extensively in Africa, China, Russia, Europe and Haiti conducting poetry readings and lecturing.

In "Talkin' About Bessie: The Story of Aviator Elizabeth Coleman," also written by Grimes and published by Orchard Books, an imprint of Scholastic Inc., winning illustrator E.B. Lewis places Bessie at the center of each gracefully composed painting. His precise attention to historic detail in oversized watercolor paintings parallels and extends Grimes' poetry.

"Each skillfully drawn, realistic and dramatic painting highlights Bessie's determination, excitement, pride or joy," Ware said. "Collectively, they shine light on the complexity of her life and times. The elegant sepia-toned thumbnail portraits that accompany each painting complete this satisfying package."

Lewis, who lives in Folsom, N.J., is the illustrator of more than 25 picture books. He attended Temple University Tyler School of Art, majoring in graphic design. He teaches illustration at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Many of his paintings are in the collections of the Pew Charitable Trust and First Pennsylvania Bank.

Occasionally awarded, the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award affirms new talent and offers visibility to excellence in writing and/or illustration at the beginning of a career as a published children's book creator. "Chill Wind" by McDonald is the story of Aisha, an unwed teen mother of two, who is forced to face the termination of welfare benefits. The book is published by Frances Foster Books/Farrar, Straus and Giroux. "The Moon Ring," illustrated and written by DuBurke, sends his main character, Maxine, on a wild and surreal adventure across space and time that begins with a simple wish on a magic ring. The book is published by Chronicle Books.

Two King Author Honor Books were selected: "Talkin' About Bessie: The Story of Aviator Elizabeth Coleman" by Grimes and "The Red Rose Box" by Brenda Woods, published by G.P. Putnam's Sons.

Two King Illustrator Honor Books were selected: "Rap A Tap Tap: Here's Bojangles - Think of That," illustrated and written by Leo and Diane Dillon and published by The Blue Sky Press, an imprint of Scholastic Inc.; and "Visiting Langston," illustrated by Bryan Collier, written by Willie Perdomo and published by Henry Holt and Company Books for Young Readers.

Members of the 2003 Coretta Scott King Task Force Award Jury are: Fran Ware, Chair, Montgomery County (Md.) Public Library; Deborah Burns, Chicago Public Library - Bessie Coleman branch; Patty Carleton, St. Louis (Mo.) Public Library; ayo dayo, Prince William (Va.) Public Library System; Darwin L. Henderson, University of Cincinnati (Ohio); Chrystal Carr Jeter, Cleveland (Ohio) Public Library; and Veronica L.C. Stevenson Moudamane, The Danbury (Conn.) Library.

For more information visit the
Coretta Scott King Awards Page