Greg Pizzoli wins Geisel Award for 'The Watermelon Seed'

For Immediate Release
Mon, 01/27/2014


Communications and Marketing Office

ALA Media Relations


PHILADELPHIA — Author and illustrator Greg Pizzoli is the 2014 recipient of the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for “The Watermelon Seed” published by Disney Hyperion Books – An Imprint of Disney Book Group. The award was announced today by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), during the ALA Midwinter Meeting held Jan. 24 – 28 in Philadelphia.

The Theodor Seuss Geisel Award is given to the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished American book for beginning readers published in English in the United States during the preceding year. The award is named for the world-renowned children’s author, Theodor Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss. Award winners are recognized for their literary and artistic achievements that demonstrate creativity and imagination to engage children in reading. Award and honor book recipients will receive their awards in Las Vegas during the ALA Annual Conference in June. 

A watermelon-loving crocodile becomes distraught after swallowing a seed, believing it will grow inside of him.

Told in straight-forward, accessible vocabulary, this innovative look at a childhood fear by debut author Greg Pizzoli creates engaging three-spot color illustrations that are as fresh as a cool slice of watermelon.

Pizzoli’s “The Watermelon Seed” is innovative but with a retro quality that will embrace the emergent reader in this satisfying treat,” said Geisel Award Committee Chair Penny Peck.

Three Geisel Honor Books were named:

“Ball” written and illustrated by Mary Sullivan and published by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

A ball-obsessed pup desperately waits for his owner to return to continue their play. The earliest reader will be empowered by the one-word text melded with action-packed sequential art.

“A Big Guy Took My Ball!” written and illustrated by Mo Willems and published by Hyperion Books for Children, an imprint of Disney Book Group.

Gerald comes to Piggie’s aid when a big guy takes away the ball she found. The classic schoolyard encounter has a wry twist and satisfying resolution in Willems’ hands. Color coded speech bubbles and expressive cartoon illustrations will delight the reader.

“Penny and Her Marble” written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes and published by Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers.

Penny has second thoughts after picking up a beautiful, blue marble from her neighbor’s yard. Was it wrong to take this treasure? Penny’s moral dilemma is explored with emotional truth in four brief chapters. Henkes’ soft-hued watercolors perfectly capture Penny’s joy and agony.

The members of the 2014 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award Committee are: Chair Penny Peck, San Lorenzo, Calf.; Emily Chandler, Lawrence Branch Library, Indianapolis; Christina H. Dorr, Hilliard (Ohio) City School District; Danielle A. Shapiro, Brooklyn (N.Y.) Public Library Highlawn Branch; Joanna Lynn Tamplin, Hawks Rise Elementary, Tallahassee, Fla. Linda Ward-Callaghan, Joliet (Ill.) Public Library; and Janet Raelene Weber, Tigard (Ore.) Public Library.

ALSC is the world’s largest organization dedicated to the support and enhancement of library service to children.  With a network of more than 4,000 children’s and youth librarians, literature experts, publishers and educational faculty, ALSC is committed to creating a better future for children through libraries. To learn more about ALSC, visit their website at

For more information on the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award and other ALA Youth Media Awards, please visit