Lab students become literary critics for annual Sutherland awards
Gordon Parks Assembly Hall shook with the shouts and applause of excited students, stamping, and clapping as the nominees for this year’s Sutherland Awards were read out. With an enthusiasm usually reserved for BTS concerts, readers from grades 3–6 gathered on April 20 to crown a new class of winners for the 2022 Zena Sutherland Award for Excellence in Children's Literature.
The award, named after acclaimed children’s literature critic Zena Sutherland, is unique in that it is a truly student-organized honor. The Sutherland Committee, a group of thirteen sixth-graders, started by reading through sixteen books compiled by Lab librarians Tad Andracki, Irene Fahrenwald, Jamelle St.Clair, Lee McLain, Elisa Gall, and Amy Atkinson. Through much discussion and deliberation, the committee narrowed the list to five final nominees. Then, they presented the books to Lower School students, who voted on their favorites in three categories.
The ceremony also featured presentations by Suzanne Buckingham Slade and Cozbi A. Cabrera, the author and illustrator of Exquisite: The Life and Poetry of Gwendolyn Brooks, last year’s winner for the Best Text award. Slade and Cabrera detailed their processes for researching the life of the famous poet in order to construct their award-winning book. From reading archival documents to finding photographs of historic furniture, both creators detailed the hard work and joy involved in their creative pursuits.
At the end of the ceremony, Slade and Cabrera announced the 2022 winners of the Sutherland Awards:
Best Text: Change Sings: A Children's Anthem, written by Amanda Gormon, illustrated by Loren Long
Best Illustrations: Red, written and illustrated by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
Best Overall: Mel Fell, written and illustrated by Corey R. Tabor