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Brooklyn students win city-wide Bookmaking Competition

Winning books on exhibit at Brooklyn Public Library

May 7, 2013 From W&Y Public Relations
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The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, in partnership with the New York City Department of Education, announced on Tuesday the winners of the 27th annual city-wide Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking Competition for grades 3-12. With Brooklyn students taking home top awards, winning books and honorable mention books will be featured in the Grand Lobby at the Brooklyn Public Library Central Library (at Grand Army Plaza) from May 6-26.

At an awards ceremony to be held on May 17 at the Library, the four city-wide and 23 borough-wide winners of the Bookmaking Competition will receive medals. In addition, the city-wide winners will receive $500 each and the borough-wide winners will receive $100 each from the Foundation. 

“We are proud of all the students who worked so diligently to create picture books.  We honor their teachers and librarians who guide them, as well as their families who nurture them,” says Karen Rosner, Coordinator of Visual Arts, New York City Department of Education, and supervisor of the Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking initiative.  “The exhibition at the Brooklyn Public Library demonstrates the talent and the rich diversity that exists in the New York City public schools.”

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The Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking Competition is divided into three categories: elementary (grades 3-5), middle (grades 6-8) and high school (grades 9-12). This includes elementary, middle and high school winners from Districts 75 and 79.

In the grades 3-5 category, the city-wide winner is Surviving Hurricane Sandy, written and illustrated by Ellie Hui and co-illustrated by Vincent Chen (Grade 3), P.S. / I.S. 229, The Dyker School, Brooklyn. Hui explains, “The story is dedicated to our classmate John, who came to our school when his house got ruined by Hurricane Sandy. I wrote the story first, then my friend Vincent and I did the illustrations. Doing the book—especially drawing in perspective—was hard, but I was lucky to learn perspective. I felt proud when my teacher read our book to my class.” 

Vincent Chen says, “When my teacher told me I won, I was excited. I now think that I’m very good at drawing and want to be an artist when I grow up. I had a good time sharing ideas with Ellie. I’m going to save the prize money so that I can buy a good car when I grow up…and then an iPhone 5.” 

“We are delighted to showcase the talent of these young writers and illustrators,” says Rachel Payne, Coordinator, Early Childhood Services, Brooklyn Public Library, and one of the judges of the Competition. “They have explored topics like enduring Hurricane Sandy, finding one’s identity, and even the poetry behind the color blue using pop-ups, collage, mixed materials and more.”

In the grades 6-8 category, the city-wide winner is We Are Not Alone, by Amelia Samoylov (Grade 6), The Bay Academy for the Arts & Sciences, Brooklyn. Samoylov says: “I created We Are Not Alone based on my family’s experience during Hurricane Sandy. Our house—like many others in Sea Gate—was badly damaged. I felt helpless and scared. My book is dedicated to anyone affected by Sandy and to those who helped us. It’s meant to help people deal with their emotions…to know that they are not alone. Making the book and winning the award made me realize that I really want to write and draw more books.”

In the grades 9-12 category, the city-wide winner is Shell, by Helen Lin (Grade 11), Stuyvesant High School, Manhattan. Lin says: “Shell is a picture book about a girl trying to find her identity by purposely entering her ‘Wonderland’ so she doesn’t have to deal with her earthly problems…I drew and painted pictures of [her] journey as she tries to fit in with the society of that world by wearing a mask, until the ruler sees through the disguise and the girl realizes that she has to come back to earth and face her problems. In the end, she manages to find herself, and shed [her] ‘shell’…”

For a list of city-wide and borough-wide winners, visit

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