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Two Brooklyn students receive top honors in bookmaking competition

Winning Books, Honorable Mentions Exhibited From May 4-22 at Brooklyn Public Library

May 7, 2015 Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation announced the citywide winners of the 2015 Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking Competition: left, “The Brown M Train,” by Kevin Zeng (Grade 12, P.S. 77, Brooklyn); center, “The History Wheel of Coney Island,” by Amelia Samoylov (Grade 8, I.S. 98, The Bay Academy for the Arts and Sciences, Brooklyn); right, “When Fall Turns to Winter,” by John Lee (Grade 5, P.S. 193, Alfred J. Kennedy, Queens).
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Two Brooklyn students earned top honors in the 29th annual Ezra Jack Keats Bookmaking Competition. The Ezra Jack Keats Foundation, in partnership with the New York City Department of Education, recently announced the competition winners for grades 3-12. Citywide and borough-winning books, honorable mentions and all school-wide-winning books will be on exhibit at the Brooklyn Public Library Central Library at Grand Army Plaza through May 22.

At an awards ceremony to be held on May 15 in the Tweed Courthouse, headquarters of the New York City Department of Education, the citywide and borough winners and honorable mention recipients of the Bookmaking Competition will be given medals. In addition, the foundation will give the citywide winners $500 and the borough winners $100.

“These talented young writers and illustrators have worked hard over many months to bring their ideas and creative spirit to life through their books,” said Deborah Pope, executive director of the foundation. “It was at public school that Ezra first received recognition for his talent, which encouraged him to pursue his dreams. Our hope is that this award will inspire these young people to follow their dreams, too.”

News for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond

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).  

Kevin Zeng, a 12th grader at P.S. 77 in Brooklyn, was the citywide winner for grades 9-12. He says he made his book, “The Brown M Train,” as “a protest. I want the MTA to reinstate the brown M train. Now I have to ride the R train, which is too slow and too crowded. I love to draw, so using colored pencils, I spent three months drawing pictures for my book and making a case for bringing the M train back. I presented my book to the president of the MTA. I’ve also started a petition that already has 506 signatures on it. I’m not going to give up until the brown M train is back in service,” Zeng said.

Amelia Samoylov, an 8th-grader at I.S. 98 (The Bay Academy for the Arts and Sciences) in Brooklyn, was a citywide winner for grades 6-7 for her book, “The History Wheel of Coney Island.” “My home — Coney Island — is such a special place and so close to my heart that I wanted to learn about its rich history and share it with others. Because the Ferris wheel is such a big part of Coney Island, I created a large, movable one that became the centerpiece of my book,” said Samoylov.

John Lee, a fifth-grader at P.S. 193 (Alfred J. Kennedy) in Queens, was a citywide winner for grades 3-5 for his book “When Fall Turns to Winter.”  

 Student books are created under the supervision of a teacher and/or librarian. The judging panel is comprised of New York-based librarians, artists, teachers and others involved in promoting diversity in children’s literature. The panel focuses on the quality of writing, illustrations and presentation.  

For a complete list of city-wide and borough winners, visit 2015 Bookmaking Competition Winners at the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation website (


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