Monday, May 14, 2012

The Cook Prize

I was pleased and honored earlier this year to be asked to design a seal for a new award to be given out annually by the Bank Street College of Education, with support from School Library Journal: the Cook Prize. 
The Cook Prize is named in memory of two Bank Street teachers, unrelated but both with the surname Cook, Don Cook of the Graduate School of Education, and Michael Cook of the School for Children. The prize is meant to recognize and encourage excellence in picture books for children aged eight to ten that address STEM subjects: science, technology, engineering, and math. 

The inaugural prize goes to Melissa Sweet’s Balloons Over Broadway. This year’s honor books are About Hummingbirds, by Cathryn Sill and John Sill; The Honeybee Man, by Lela Nargi and Kyrsten Brooker; and Meadowlands: A Wetlands Survival Story, by Thomas F. Yezerski.
The final seal design incorporates an image of a tellurian (sometimes spelled tellurion) — a moveable model depicting the relationship between sun, moon, Earth, and Venus. I went to the image of a tellurian because I find such models beautiful; because they require skill and care to design and create; and because when done well, these relatively small objects give insight into much larger things and processes. So, too, with the picture books being recognized. 
(And, I hoped that drawing a tellurian in a professional capacity might allow me to justify buying one, maybe an early 20th century model from the Trippensee Company, and then I would be able to have that on a shelf in my apartment. Or maybe a later model with a midcentury look and a sun that lights up, and that could be good for mood lighting. It was hard to choose. In the end, however, I felt that I was able to do my work without actually owning either. This saved me somewhere between five hundred and a thousand dollars, but.)
The Cook Prize will be presented at Bank Street this week, on the morning of Thursday, May 17, along with the Irma S. and James H. Black Award. Paul Zelinsky will be there to speak in conjunction with the Irma Black Award presentation, and I’ll be there with brief remarks about the process of designing the Cook Prize seal, and to show you some ideas that you will be glad did not make it to the final design. Details are here. More about the Cook Prize is on the Bank Street Center for Children's Literature blog, here and here.
I’m glad I had the chance to play a small part in the life of this new award, which I think will be of real value. My thanks to Lisa Von Drasek at Bank Street and Jennifer M. Brown, Children's Editor at Shelf Awareness and a member of Bank Street College's Children' Book Committee, for the opportunity! 

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