The Service of Awards

May 1st, 2009

Categories: Appreciation, Awards, Books, Thanks

Doesn’t everyone have a favorite children’s book? Mine is “Madeline” written and illustrated by Ludwig Bemelmans; my friend Judy’s: “Make Way for Ducklings.” Robert McCloskey wrote and illustrated it.


I love buying books for children and wonder if any I’ve chosen will become their favorites.


If you can’t consult a child or parents whose children are the right age and you don’t have a reliable, convenient bookstore with knowledgeable staff, it can be tricky to be sure you’re selecting an appropriate book—especially if you’re looking for newly published ones to help ensure that the child doesn’t already own a copy.


One great solution is to choose among the winners of an awards program such as the one The Christophers has conducted for 60 years. The organization recently honored the 2009 winners not only of children’s books, but adult books as well as feature films, broadcast and cable TV programs. Over six decades, they’ve tapped 1,436 authors, illustrators, screenwriters, producers and directors. It’s a relief to know that a responsible organization has vetted and praised the book you’re planning to give.


Judith Trojan directed this year’s gala. She explained, The Christophers recognize media that remind audiences and readers of all ages and faiths, and of no particular faith, of their power to make a difference in their communities and the world-at-large.” The Christophers, guided by the ancient Chinese proverb—“It’s better to light one candle than to curse the darkness” —is rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition of service to God and humanity.


This year’s children book winners are: Preschool, Close to You:  How Animals Bond (Henry Holt Books for Young Readers/Henry Holt and Company, LLC) by Kimiko Kajikawa. Ages 6-8 That Book Woman (Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing) by Heather Henson, illustrated by David Small. Ages 8-10, Clementine’s Letter (Disney-Hyperion/Disney Book Group) by Sara Pennypacker, illustrated by Marla Frazee. Ages 10-12 Shooting the Moon (Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing) by Frances O’Roark Dowell and Young Adult Sunrise Over Fallujah (Scholastic Press/Scholastic Inc.) by Walter Dean Myers. To check out all the other winners, visit


By the way: What was your favorite children’s book?

11 Responses to “The Service of Awards”

  1. Judy T Said:

    As a kid I loved to read Nancy Drew books and before that The Bobbsey Twins…. I probably would have loved Eloise if I had been exposed to her as a kid. Today, I love the Olivia books. Bingo, I see that there’s a common theme to these books. All the heroines are entrepreneurial, self-starters, creative problem-solvers and definitely not victims. Interesting.

  2. David Reich Said:

    Great idea, Jeanne.

    Thinking of my favorite children’s books, there’s so much to choose from. I remember the great Golden Books, which were so beautifully illustrated. Books like “The Little Train That Could” and “The Pokey Little Puppy.” I read them, and then I read them to my kids and now I’m reading them to my grandson — the same books!

    I also remember a series of books I found in the library when I was about 9 or 10 — “Freddy the Pig.” From 1927 to 1958, Walter Brooks wrote 26 books starring one of the great characters in American children’s literature, Freddy the Pig. They were out of print for quite a while, but they were recently republished. I just learned there’s even a Freddy the Pig Club online.

    A childhood friend who I had introduced to the books as a kid came across one in a bookstore and gave it to me a few months ago. I tried to read it, expecting to relive the stories I had enjoyed long ago. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t get into it and eventually put the book down. I’m sure the book didn’t change — it must be me.

  3. Iris Bell Said:

    My favorite place to read about and buy children’s
    books is Chinaberry. I started reading the founder’s
    paper catalogue in the mid-1980s. It felt like being a
    member of her family.
    I remember reading the first book review by
    her young son, maybe 8 years old.
    This gives you a sense of how she runs her company:

    * Chinaberry offers items to support families in raising
    their children with love, honesty and joy to be reverent,
    loving caretakers of each other and the earth.
    More about us
    * We are committed to making this world a kinder,
    gentler place, both with the products we offer and
    in the way we do business.
    Go to Customer Service
    * Because I travel a lot, I often observe some pretty
    amazing things in airports and airplanes. Many of
    these ‘amazing’ observations don’t exactly make my
    heart sing, so it was particularly refreshing to have
    an experience recently that did. I believe it helps to
    share such stories, especially considering…
    Read more on our blog
    And here’s the site:

  4. NenaghGal- Lisa McGee Said:

    I have a huge list in this category!! Let’s see, best book to buy a new baby – On The Day You Were Born by Debra Frasier. A charming book that will bring tears to any new parents eyes. For illustrations anything by Eric Carle (such as Mister Seahorse- and did you know there is an Eric Carle museum in Massachusetts? A delight for any child, parent or grandparent) or Jan Brett (On Noah’s Ark, The Owl and the Pussycat). For Easter, an old classic that is the ultimate in charm, The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes by Du Bose Heyward, Pictures by Marjorie Hack (originally printed in 1939- can get on Amazon).
    Check them out!

  5. Gina Jameson Said:

    New children’s book Draggaar Trilogy just being sold by small bookstores and a website is the perfect fantasy book for ages 7-12. My boys absolutely loved it. It’s nice to find a book the whole family can read together at night and enjoy over and over again. Check out to learn more.

  6. Artemius Blodgett Said:

    You are the one that is redering the great service in telling people like me about the Christophers!

    In an age when the volume bookstores only know how to read a bar code, one takes a real chance buying any book — not just a children’s book — written by an unknown author, and the online reviews aren’t much help. They are a little like the “New York Times” reviews, where the reviewers are so desperate to be politically correct and “with it,” that they forget to be critical.

    As my circumstances are such that I cannot afford to buy books from a knowledgeable bookseller, I have had nowhere to turn when I need to buy a tasteful birthday or Christmas present for a child. I now know to check with the Christophers. Incidentally, did you know that a book on the American War of Independence, “Founding Faith,” to which they recently awarded a prize, is the best new original study on the subject that I’ve seen in decades?

    As to my favorite children’s book, I have many from Arthur Randsome’s “Swallows and Amazons” series to Booth Tarkington’s Penrod series, to that possibly greatest of all American novels, “Huckleberry Finn.” However, my most important childhood book has to be “Treasure Island” because it was the first book that I ever read to myself.

    I must have been seven or eight and in the hospital having my tonsils out (in those days you had to go to the hospital to have them done). I was miserable after coming out from under the ether, and my mother, to distract me, started reading “Treasure Island” out loud. Then she had to leave to go back to work, but I had become so involved in the story that I picked the book up and finished it. It was not my favorite book as a boy, and it isn’t now, but after “Treasure Island,” my mother never read to me again, and I’ve never stopped reading.

  7. Erica Martell Said:

    Velveteen Rabit is one. The Giving Tree, and Jamie Lee Curtis’s Big Words for Little People.

  8. KF Said:

    Recently I was wondering about some books to buy for our 13- and 15-year-old cousins for their birthdays. I’ve found that the salespeople in the Barnes & Noble children’s department are usually very astute and helpful in making suggestions.

    Another source for matching books to the reading levels of children is the children’s section of the public library. Like almost every librarian I’ve dealt with, these children’s librarians are terrific. One should not say “all” librarians are helpful, but I’ve yet to come across one who hasn’t been. They get my vote for “good service.”

    As a child, I loved A Child’s Garden of Verses, plus the poems such as “The GIngham Dog and the Calico Cat.”

  9. Martha Takayama Said:

    In my family as children we always received books as presents. My husband and I now give them as children’s presents. My favorite, only in part because I am a Bostonian, is “Make Way for Ducklings.” by Robert McCloskey. (I still have my copy.)

    “Goddnight Moon” is a favorite for the very young, along with “Babar” and “Winnie the Pooh”.

    I hope that giving books to children helps instill in them a love of reading and respect for knowledge that will continue throughout their lives.

  10. PJS Said:

    One of the best things about our librarian is that she recommends older books as well as the newer more popular ones the kids are “into.” We get a lot of positive feedback from parents who remember reading a story/book as a child and they are tickled that we have that book–provides a good community service which in turn achieves a warm emotional bond between parent/child. And THAT turns into dollars and cents for the library!

  11. DB Said:

    I recite many of these verses to my grandsons. I leave out the pistols and shot parts. The boys love the animals and the adventure of the poetry!

    Here are just a few lines from THE TALE OF CUSTARD THE DRAGON By Ogden Nash [Copyright Linell Nash Smith and Isabel Nash Eberstadt]:

    Belinda lived in a little white house,
    With a little black kitten and a little gray mouse,
    And a little yellow dog and a little red wagon,
    And a realio, trulio, little pet dragon.
    Now the name of the little black kitten was Ink,
    And the little gray mouse, she called her Blink,
    And the little yellow dog was sharp as Mustard,
    But the dragon was a coward, and she called him Custard.

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