“Who knew you could make brilliant early readers from philosophy and quantum theory?” said Stevenson. “Drew Daywalt, that’s who. He and artist Olivier Tallec take the familiar beginning-reader odd couple (in this case, a lively monkey and a—no lie—slice of cake) to new places such as Schrödinger’s cat and set theory. The books are witty and ingenious in cutting directly to the concepts via the controlled vocabulary in ways that kids will immediately grasp, making the titles entertaining brain teasers as well as satisfying novice reads. Tallec’s playful, elastic figures have a theatrical dash as they grapple with the question of fort possession and the visibility of cats in closed boxes.”
2020 Honor Books
The Very Impatient Caterpillar (Scholastic) written and illustrated by Ross Burach, is a highly readable (and slyly scientific) early reader; the charmingly goofy protagonist, a young caterpillar exasperated by metamorphosis, will keep kids laughing, while the speech-bubbles and controlled vocabulary will support their own reading transformation.
¡Vamos!: Let’s Go to the Market! (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) written and illustrated by Raúl the Third, follows Lobo and Bernabé as they make their deliveries through the hustle and bustle of the mercado; the stylized artwork, featuring plenty of opportunities for novice readers to flex their skills in both English and Spanish, make this an absolute gem.
Lion of the Sky: Haiku for All Seasons (Millbrook) written by Laura Purdie Salas and illustrated by Mercè López, offers a unique take on the haiku format in Salas’ “riddle-ku” poems; coupled with López’s evocative illustrations, this offers readers a chance to hone their literacy skills and their riddle-solving chops.
See our Gryphon Award Archive page for all past award winners and honor books since the award was first granted in 2004.
About the Gryphon Award
Origin and Purpose
The Gryphon Award of $1,000 is given annually in recognition of an English language work of fiction or non-fiction for which the primary audience is children in Kindergarten through Grade 4. The title chosen best exemplifies those qualities that successfully bridge the gap in difficulty between books for reading aloud to children and books for practiced readers.
The Gryphon Award was conceived as a way to focus attention on an area of literature for youth that, despite being crucial to the successful transition of new readers to independent lifelong readers, does not get the critical recognition it deserves.
The award is sponsored by the Center for Children’s Books at the School of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
The award committee consists of 4-6 members drawn from the youth services faculty of the School of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the editorial staff of the Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, local public and school librarians, and the library and education community at large.
Announcement of the Gryphon Award
The award winner and honor books are announced each year on February 1 or the closest Monday following.
Terms, Criteria, and Entry
Selection criteria for the Gryphon Award include but are not limited to:
- Excellence of presentation for target audience
- Distinctive literary quality and appropriateness of style
- For non-fiction, the presentation of information including accuracy, clarity, and organization
- Exceptional integration of text, illustration, and design
Eligibility and Terms
- Books to be considered for this award must be published in the calendar year preceding the presentation of the award.
- The award is given for a single publication, not for the body of an author/illustrator’s work.
- The work must be notable and contribute to the world of children’s literature.
- Only original works written for children will be considered.
- Textbooks will not be considered.
- Books should be written for an audience of children grades K-4.
- English language works of fiction and non-fiction are eligible.
- The book must be a self-contained entity, not dependent on other media (i.e., sound or film equipment) for its enjoyment.
- In the event of a dispute as to eligibility, the committee will decide whether a book is eligible.
Publishers may submit English language books with scheduled first-run publication dates between January 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020. Entries may be submitted as finished proofs, bound galleys, and bound manuscripts. We are also currently accepting digital e-galleys submissions. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on digital submissions.
To enter, please send two (2) copies of each submission to:
The Center for Children’s Books
501 E. Daniel Street
Champaign, IL 61820
Attn: Gryphon Award Committee
Submissions must be postmarked by December 1, 2020.
Additional titles may be nominated for consideration by members of the Gryphon Award Committee.