Curtis, Bryan win 2008 Coretta Scott King Awards

Contacts: Macey Morales/Jennifer Petersen

ALA Media Relations


For Immediate Release,

January 14, 2008

Curtis, Bryan win 2008 Coretta Scott King Awards

PHILADELPHIA - Christopher Paul Curtis, author of “Elijah of Buxton,” and Ashley Bryan, illustrator of “Let it Shine,” are the winners of the 2008 Coretta Scott King Awards honoring African American authors and illustrators of outstanding books for children and young adults. Sundee T. Frazier, author of “Brendan Buckley's Universe and Everything in It,” is the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Author Award winner.

The awards were announced today at the American Library Association's (ALA) Midwinter Meeting taking place at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, January 11-16.

“Elijah of Buxton,” published by Scholastic, tells the story of 11-year-old Elijah, known to family and friends as “frag-ile,” and the community of former slaves who build a new life in Canada. Elijah's story introduces readers to “the” Mr. Frederick Douglass, a shyster “preacher” and the ill-fated Mr. Leroy. This serious and sensitive account includes numerous laugh-out-loud moments including a toady-frog incident and an episode showing Elijah's stone-chunking skills while catching fish for dinner.

Curtis, a Michigan native, discovered his talent for writing while trying to relieve the boredom of working on the assembly line in an automobile plant in Flint, Mich.; the setting for his first two prize-winning novels. Curtis lives in Windsor, Canada, with his wife and family.

“Christopher Paul Curtis is particularly adept at capturing little-known aspects of the African American experience in Canada. Curtis' research brings alive the stories of escaped slaves.” said Award Jury Chair Carole McCollough.

Two King Author Honor Books were selected: “November Blues,” by Sharon M. Draper, published by Atheneum Books for Young Adults and “Twelve Rounds to Glory: The Story of Muhammad Ali,” written by Charles R. Smith Jr., illustrated by Bryan Collier, published by Candlewick Press.

“In 'Let it Shine,' written and illustrated by Ashley Bryan and published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers, Bryan uses bright-colored paper to create the collage figures that cover double-page spreads illustrating three selected spirituals,” said McCollough. “Bryan's meticulous attention to detail is evident in the accuracy of the musical notations provided for each song.”

Bryan is known internationally as a writer, storyteller and artist. He is the winner of numerous awards for his illustrations in children's books. After retirement from the art department of Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., Bryan now lives on one of the Cranberry Islands in Maine.

Two Illustrator Honor Books were selected: “The Secret Olivia Told Me,” by N. Joy, illustrated by Nancy Devard, published by Just Us Books, and “Jazz On A Saturday Night,” by Leo and Diane Dillon, published by Scholastic Blue Sky Press.

Occasionally awarded, the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award rewards new talent and offers visibility to a children's book creator at the beginning of their career. This year the award is presented to “Brendan Buckley's Universe and Everything in It,” written by Sundee T. Frazier and published by Delacorte Press. Ten-year-old Brendan, a Tae Kwon Do blue belt, takes a scientific approach to everything he does, asking questions and recording answers. Brendan daringly seeks answers to the conflict surrounding his biracial family and discovers a grandfather he never knew he had.

The Coretta Scott King Award is presented annually by the Coretta Scott King Committee of ALA's Ethnic Multicultural Information Exchange Round Table (EMIERT).

Members of the 2008 Coretta Scott King Book Award Jury are: Jury Chair Carole McCollough, educational consultant, Southfield, Mich.; Bettye Loggins Smith, District of Columbia Public Library, Washington; Henrietta M. Smith, University of South Florida, Tampa, Fla.; Adelaide Poniatowski Phelps, Oakland University, Rochester, Mich.; Brenda M. Hunter, Atlanta-Fulton Public Library, Atlanta; Martha Ruff, Prince George's County Memorial Library System, Oxon Hill, Md. and Denyvetta Davis, Metropolitan Library System, Oklahoma City.